Imagine if there was one thing you could do to battle counterfeiting, improve consumer safety, control inventory, optimise the supply chain processes and build brand trust.
Actually, there is – it’s called serialisation.
For most sectors, serialisation has flown under the radar for years. But the rise of counterfeiting and food fraud means the process of putting a unique mark on products has become increasingly popular with Australian manufacturers.
Whether you’re new to the concept or are seriously considering serialisation, there are few essential things every Australian manufacturer should know.
First, some basics:
Serialisation involves assigning and marking each product or product component with a unique identifier.
What is serialisation?
So, marking isn’t done at a batch level, but a product level.
A serialisation code can be as detailed as you need – aside from the unique identifier for each individual product, it can also include the Global Trade Identification Number (GTIN), SKU, product description, batch number and more.
This all sounds quite simple, but done properly, serialisation has the potential to unlock huge benefits around traceability and transparency in the supply chain.
Now you know the basics, here are five things every manufacturer should know about serialisation:
1. All serialisation starts with good coding
Serialisation starts with one simple physical code applied to the product packaging. This means you need to take time to work out which code you need, where it should go and any changes you will need to make in your line.
The best approach is towork with your coding and labelling partner to determine the code’s location and permanency, and how to apply the code to your product using the right technology. Work with a technology partner such as Matthews who has expertise in serialisation code and can provide serialisation-ready devices and solutions.
2. Serialisation is an imperative for processors who want to export to China and other overseas markets
Goods heading overseas are subject to more checks than ever before. Mostly, this comes down to the threat of terrorism. But the news about Australia’s contamination issues also has a big role to play.
So if you want to export overseas, you need to invest in processes that deliver confidence in traceability and authentication – processes such as serialisation.
This is especially the case for China. Increased regulation of the nutritionals (infant formula) market by the Chinese Government means Australian companies need to go through an audit process to gain registration before selling their product in China.
Want to export to China? Serialisation 101 is for you.
As a solution, Camperdown Dairy used QR codes for serialisation.This allowed Chinese consumers to quickly check the authenticity and provenance of its products using their smartphones. In other words, to track the product from cow to can. Camperdown CEO Gavin Evans talks about the solution in this video below.
3. Serialisation can help you achieve full track and trace through the supply chain
Many manufacturers will stop at consumer-unit serialisation, which means you put a unique number on the unit using a data carrier, such as data bar, 2D code, or numeric code.
But by serialising your secondary unit and tertiary units too, you can achieve full track and trace through the supply chain.
Essentially, this means that as the product changes hands along the supply chain, your serialisation software partner (who generates the codes) can track and trace the item’s custodial history through integration with the brand’s and the distributor’s stock-control system.
Information is then available for each unique item, and you can see who owns the product as well as the retail location of that owner.
4. Serialisation can help build consumer trust
One of the top advantages of serialisation is its ability to help brands engage with consumers directly. By scanning a code using their smartphone, consumers can find out information about your environmental sustainability, animal welfare, customer loyalty rewards and other marketing offers.
This is a huge step in building consumer trust – especially among the next generation of consumers (Gen Z) who were “born digital”.
5. Serialisation needs complete collaboration
IT is a major enabler for serialisation, but more important is collaboration. Serialisation has a ripple effect on lots of business functions, including the production line, packaging and IT. All need to collaborate and work in sync with a clear vision of the end goal. The best approach is to establish a cross-functional team.
It’s not just inside the organisation – serialisation implementation requires collaboration with both upstream and downstream trading partners too. Without this, you won’t enable traceability of products in the supply chain.
Over to you
Serialisation might sound overwhelming, but it’s all in the execution. Success comes down to knowing the essentials and working with a specialist partner for the rest.
If you’re thinking about serialisation, speak to our experts. We can talk you through previous projects and how it can work for your unique business.
Image credit: iStock/ LuckyStep48