Hidden Risks of Supply Chain Loopholes
Intelligent packaging, digital barcodes and product authentication have been widely discussed by packaging professionals for years now. Yet their implementation has been rather slow, as they are treated mainly as “nice to have” attributes. However, logistical issues and the associated spike in counterfeiting and illegal trade facilitated by the COVID-19 crisis will likely lead to a 180-degree change in priorities.
Criminals producing and distributing counterfeit or manipulated products have been quick to exploit the coronavirus pandemic. According to the recent investigation by Europol, counterfeiters have quickly shifted their product focus to satisfy the current market demand for certain types of pharmaceuticals, medical devices, hygiene products and foods, which they actively distribute through various online platforms. Although, at first sight, such incidents have nothing to do with manufacturers of original products, these companies can suffer huge damage to their reputation as a result of the distribution of counterfeit products under their brand name. On top of that, counterfeit goods dilute the market, which inevitably leads to substantial losses in revenue for the manufacturers of the original products. So ensuring supply chain transparency and product protection is becoming even more critical in uncertain times.
While considering different anti-counterfeiting technologies, the question many packaging professionals are asking is: is there a viable technological solution that can reliably protect their products and consumers, while fulfilling the specific requirements of their use cases? WIPOTEC-OCS provides the answers.
Video: Traceable Quality System
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Product protection enhances brand value
The German manufacturer of high-tech weighing, inspection and Track & Trace solutions is convinced that today’s consumers prefer products and brands they can trust. Breaking their confidence once is more than enough to cause a long-term slump in sales. WIPOTEC-OCS has set itself a mission to help manufacturers across different industries fulfil consumer expectations with regard to uncompromised product safety and authenticity. With its range of innovative serialisation and traceability solutions, called Traceable Quality System (TQS), the company has already equipped more than 3,000 packaging lines in manufacturing and packaging facilities worldwide.
Serialisation is probably the most pragmatic and practical way to secure products against counterfeiting and manipulation by assigning each product a globally unique serial number. One of the most significant advantages of serialisation and Track & Trace is that these technologies are not an emerging trend. Their viability has been already proven by their successful implementation in the pharmaceutical industry in the EU, the US and many other countries around the world. Companies from other sectors, particularly food and beverages, medical devices and consumer goods, are now also adopting the technology of their own accord.
“We are seeing a clear trend towards implementing Track & Trace in all areas of our daily life, from agricultural products to baby milk powder.”
- Volker Ditscher, Director of Global Sales at WIPOTEC-OCS
Technology in a nutshell
By encoding unique serial numbers and additional product information in barcodes, technology enables intelligent packaging. Thanks to the technology and digital barcodes, consumers are empowered to prove the product’s authenticity simply by scanning a barcode on the product packaging with their smartphone. This process gives consumers more confidence in product and brand quality, while at the same time companies benefit from increased customer engagement and loyalty.
But the possibilities don’t stop there. By aggregating and assigning serial numbers to further levels of packaging, from a shipping case up to a pallet, manufacturers can achieve full product traceability, supply chain transparency and warehouse optimisation, since barcodes and serial numbers will contain information about all the products in a shipping case or on a pallet. Last, but not least, the technology solves core challenges, such as supply chain visibility, reduced operational costs, and protection of products from counterfeiting. Hence, these solutions can be used in the application of fTrace in the food industry, or for adherence to the CRISTAL guidelines for agrochemical products.
One key feature that is highly appreciated by WIPOTEC-OCS’s industry customers is the high level of flexibility, customisation and interoperability of the TQS solutions, which range from fully automated stand-alone machines to highly customised OEM solutions. Industry manufacturers and packaging companies can obtain a viable solution for nearly any use case and application.
Founded more than three decades ago as a manufacturer of innovative weighing and inspection technology, WIPOTEC has further evolved to become one of the internationally recognised leaders in Track & Trace and serialisation technology. TQS solutions were initially developed to solve the burning challenges plaguing the pharmaceutical industry for many decades – product counterfeiting and supply chain loopholes. In the course of ten years, Track & Trace and serialisation solutions have seen notable success with pharmaceutical companies and are now being deployed in more than 100 countries across every continent. The German innovator has now embarked on a fresh course and set itself on a mission to help manufacturers and contract packagers across different industries to fight counterfeiting, illegal trade and supply chain inefficiencies. The company is present in more than 90 countries worldwide through branches and distribution partners.
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