Product serialization involves assigning a unique identifier or serial number to each individual unit or item to enable its traceability and authentication throughout the supply chain. The serialization process typically follows several key steps:
1. Generating Serial Numbers: The first step is to generate a series of unique serial numbers that will be assigned to each product unit. These numbers can be alphanumeric codes or barcodes, depending on the chosen identification system. The numbers need to be generated in a controlled and secure manner to ensure uniqueness and prevent duplication. Systech UniTrace solution generates and manages serial numbers. This solution provides numbers and track and trace the numbers through the supply chain.
2. Applying Serial Numbers: Once the serial numbers are generated, they are applied to the product packaging or labels. This can be done using various methods, including printing directly on the packaging, attaching barcode labels, or using RFID tags. The serial number should be easily visible and scannable for easy identification and data capture. Ultimate Solutions uses proven OEMs for printing and managing labels. Some of which are Wolke, Markem-Imaje, Zebra, and Domino printers are widely used as well as Bartender and EasyLabel labeling software.
3. Capturing Data: Along with the serial number, relevant data about the product is captured and associated with each unit. This may include information such as the manufacturing date, batch number, expiration date, and any other required details. The data capture can be done manually or through automated systems, depending on the level of integration and technology available. Examples of technologies used by Ultimate Solutions are Baumer and Allied Vision cameras. Also, Ultimate Solutions is working closely with Systech and Cognex in the integration of Cognex cameras. Zebra scanners can be used also for capture and associated data.
4. Recording in a Database: The captured data, including the serial number and associated information, is recorded in a centralized database or system. This database serves as a repository for all serialized product information and enables easy access, search, and retrieval of data when needed. The database can be cloud-based or on-premises, depending on the organization’s infrastructure and data management preferences. Systech Guardian product is used as a Database repository.
5. Integration with Supply Chain Systems: The serialized product information needs to be integrated with the existing supply chain systems, including inventory management, logistics, and distribution systems. This integration allows for real-time visibility and tracking of the product’s movement at various stages of the supply chain. It enables stakeholders to access accurate and up-to-date information about the product’s location, status, and other relevant details. Systech UniTrace solution enables integration with existing supply chain systems and real-time tracking. Guardian is also able to integrate with third-party solutions like ATTP, Tracelink, etc.
6. Verification and Authentication: Throughout the supply chain, stakeholders can verify and authenticate the serialized products by scanning or reading the serial numbers. This can be done using handheld scanners, mobile devices, or automated scanning systems. By comparing the scanned serial number with the database records, stakeholders can validate the authenticity and integrity of the product. Systech UniSecure uses unique imperfections during the printing process to authenticate serialized products from counterfeit and diversion.
7. Traceability and Reporting: Serialized products enable enhanced traceability, allowing stakeholders to trace the product’s journey from the manufacturer to the end consumer. In the event of quality issues, recalls, or suspected counterfeit products, the serialization data can be used to identify and track affected units quickly, minimizing risks and facilitating targeted actions. The serialization system should provide robust reporting capabilities, generating reports on product movement, stock levels, and other relevant metrics. Systech wide range of products from Line Level, Site Level and Enterprise Level (Level 2 to Level 4 can generate reports and/or trace products in every step of the process up to consumers’ hands.
8. Compliance with Regulations: Serialization is often driven by regulatory requirements, particularly in industries such as pharmaceuticals and consumer goods. Compliance with regulations is crucial to meet legal obligations and maintain the integrity of the supply chain. Organizations need to ensure that their serialization process aligns with the specific regulations of their industry and region. Ultimate Solutions and partners are always up to date on regulations, the Drug Supply Chain Security Act, and testing new technologies for future regulations.
9. Ongoing Management and Maintenance: Serialized product data requires ongoing management and maintenance to ensure its accuracy and integrity. This includes regular database updates, addressing data discrepancies, and maintaining the serialization infrastructure. Additionally, organizations need to train and educate their employees about serialization processes, scanning procedures, and the importance of maintaining data integrity. Ultimate Solutions has an extensive training academy to stay up to date on training and new technologies for future implementations.
Product serialization plays a vital role in supply chain management by enabling product traceability, authentication, and enhanced control. By implementing an effective serialization system, organizations can improve inventory management, detect, and prevent counterfeiting, streamline logistics, and ensure compliance with regulations.