According to Wikipedia „Serialization is the process of translating a data structure or object state into a format that can be stored (for example, in a file or memory data buffer) or transmitted (for example, across a computer network) and reconstructed later (possibly in a different computer environment).“

But let’s keep it simple:

Every single product is marked with an individual code.

Why you should do this? The answer is traceability.

Let’s take a look at approaches from different industries:

Pharma manufacturers are already obliged by law to ensure the traceability of their products. But those who have recognized the opportunity, use the marking for good far beyond its actual purpose. In modern hospitals, for example, medications can not only be traced seamlessly back to the manufacturer: thanks to the individual codes on vials and tablet packaging, it is possible to record exactly who received how much of what, when and from whom.

We will experience a similar development in the medical device industry in the coming years with the „Medical Device Regulation“ that introduces the „Unique Device Identification“ coming into effect starting 2021.

The vaccination market, which is currently expecting a one-off growth, is very vulnerable to counterfeiting and will need counterfeit protection through serialization.

However, even in industries that are not required by law to serialize their products, manufacturers and consumers benefit from the individual code on each product.

Market leaders in cosmetics, food, chemicals, luxury goods, cannabis, electronics, tires and beverages have implemented serialization solutions to protect their brand, product and customers. For some, batch coding – like printing a batch number and an expiration date – might even be a sufficient solution for now but once you have invested in the right equipment, it will be easier to upgrade to „real“ serialization later. It’s the evolutional journey of product identification. Depending on your existing packaging machinery, you might even just implement an integration-kit for retrofitting serialization.

Thanks to global standards, the traceability works worldwide. Only recently, in October 2020, even China, which traditionally likes to use its own systems, agreed to use the GS1 standard.

We will be happy to advise you

Key drivers and benefits of product traceability

  • Mitigate the risks of product counterfeiting. Assigning a unique serial number to each product enables product authentication at the point of sale or by the consumer via smartphone app.

  • Increase consumer loyalty. Modern consumers demand indepth visibility of a product’s origin. By ensuring product safety and traceability, you enhance your brand image by showing customers that you care about the authenticity of your products.

  • Prevent product diversion and illegal trade. Manufacturers lose millions due to parallel imports and reimportation. A reliable Track & Trace system helps to monitor the movement of products throughout the whole supply chain.

  • Improve product recall management. With a Track & Trace system, manufacturers save valuable time and costs when it comes to product recalls, withdrawals and reverse logistics. Leveraging unitbased traceability allows companies to quickly locate and withdraw single units instead of full batches.

  • Sharpen your reporting, forecasting and planning. Product traceability enables the collection and analysis of production, warehousing and supply chain data.

  • Achieve global compliance. When exporting products to multiple regions, you must adhere to country-specific labelling and traceability regulations on imported goods, all of which have varying levels of granularity. By implementing a flexible Track & Trace system, you will expose your company to new markets and growth opportunities, thus future-proofing your operations.


Volker Ditscher

Director Global Sales Track & Trace WIPOTEC-OCS