Serialisation is a tried and tested trick in the supply chain book, with rewards that flow from the manufacturer right through to the consumer. So why aren’t more businesses taking advantage of it? In our next two blogs, we’ll focus on the why’s and how’s of serialisation in the supply chain.
Serialisation is perhaps one of the simplest supply chain concepts to get your head around; it is the process of assigning and marking each product or product component with a unique identifier. Typically, this happens during the manufacturing process, through using specialised marking technologies. Execution, however, is another matter (which we will get into in part 2).
Why is this important? Because it is one of the most effective ways to improve traceability and provide manufacturers/brand owners with the data they need to respond quickly and effectively to risks in the supply chain.
Take the pharmaceutical industry, for example, where serialisation has become a must-have to combat counterfeiters. Over the years, counterfeit pharmaceutical products have posed an increasing risk to patient safety, as well as resulting in lost revenue and brand damage for drug manufacturers. By introducing unique identification for each and every pack of pharmaceuticals, manufacturers are able to unlock traceability in the drug supply chain and ensure a higher level of authenticity. This tightens the supply chain’s security, making it much more challenging for counterfeiters to intrude. The result is significantly improved patient safety and brand integrity.
But it’s not only in the healthcare industry that serialisation can have such results. After all, protecting consumer safety and brand integrity are priorities in practically every industry, from food processing to car manufacturing. (You may find this article interesting on how you can mitigate risk and build brand trust, and see why it’s a top 5 trend for contract packers to be aware of.) Scan the QR code to the right for a demonstration.
Here are the key benefits of serialisation:
Better transparency: In most supply chains, products change ownership a number of times, and the more complex and global the supply chain becomes, the more difficult it is to obtain real-time transparency. That’s where serialisation comes in. Much of the information that companies currently collect to track products is not enough to provide real transparency. A serialisation code can be as deep and detailed as the manufacturer or trading partner requires – it might include the Global Trade Identification Number (GTIN), product description, stock-keeping unit (SKU), lot or batch number, expiration date, and more. As such, serialisation gives the finite visibility that manufacturers and retailers are striving for.
Fights counterfeiting: Counterfeiting is a real health risk in the food and heath industries, and can cause irreparable damage to a company’s bottom line. However, serialisation effectively puts the supply chain in lock-down and makes it more difficult (and less financially viable) for counterfeiters to enter the supply chain – simply because it’s difficult for counterfeiters to duplicate valid codes. This helps minimise the risk to consumers and improves consumer safety.
Minimises recalls: With greater granularity of data, serialisation helps with timely recalls, returns, withdrawals and rebates, while simultaneously shrinking loss recovery.
Protects the brand: Serialisation gives suppliers and retailers the ability to detect and manage counterfeit product threats, thereby protecting the integrity of real brands. Also, by speeding up recalls and withdrawals, a brand’s reputation is protected.
Builds consumer trust: Following from the above, serialisation gives companies the ability to build and enhance consumer trust through product verification or authentication. Consumer trust is the holy grail for any business and will ultimately empower you to drive customer loyalty long into the future.
Controls inventory and shipping accuracy: With serialisation, manufacturers can capture all the necessary information as a product moves through the supply chain to the consumer. With improved supply chain visibility, you can see the exact item and quantities delivered at each point in the chain. This gives better insight (and therefor control) into raw materials ordering, process scheduling and shipping accuracy. It also gives a better understanding of the impact of any disruptions through the supply chain, so processes can be optimised to improve efficiencies and control costs.
Trace returns: Serialisation enables you to detect returns that were not originally sold to the customer.
Stay tuned for our next blog where we’ll reveal the steps to successfully implement serialisation in your business. Can’t wait until then? Contact us and speak to one of our specialists today.
You may also be interested in this blog on how QR codes are being used in serialisation to prevent counterfeiting in wine and counterfeiting in fresh produce.