What is a Supply Chain?
As global trade becomes more interconnected, the flow of goods from manufacturer to consumer—a process known as a supply chain—is becoming much more complex and increasingly harder to monitor. Track and trace solutions such as Identem’s ensure that a business’ supply chain is fully integrated and transparent to prevent the penetration of counterfeit goods and achieve end-to-end product authenticity.
Identem has outlined the basic structure of a supply chain below to help consumers better understand how they receive their products and how it ties into track and trace solutions.
Suppliers play a crucial role as the starting point in a supply chain, as they make the production of products possible in the first place. They provide manufacturers with natural produce like fruits and vegetables to raw materials such as metals, timber and wool. While many may think that the starting point of track and trace mechanisms, serialization, begins with the finished product, many businesses apply barcodes and security labels to their raw products, so that they can verify that they come from safe, trusted and sustainable sources.
As the second point in a supply chain, manufacturers produce and assemble either whole products or parts of a product that are eventually put together by a different manufacturer. Whether they produce computers, luxury bags or medication, it is inside their factories and warehouses where businesses can use Identem to tag individual products with unique identification codes in the form of 2D barcodes, QR codes, 3D holograms and RFID tags, in combination with security labels. It is at this point in the supply chain where product information is stored onto a database—in Identem’s case, a secure, cloud-based online platform.
The data stored inside the product labels include more than just the sale price. Information such as the factory in which the product was made, date of manufacture, batch number and more can be recorded. As this information is now stored on a secure online database, they can be scanned along checkpoints and tracked as distributors transport them to their designated retailer or directly to the consumer.
The assignment of unique serial codes and subsequent information storage on the online database is crucial, because distributors will be able to weed out counterfeit goods, as the online platform will be able to detect mismatching serial codes and product information once scanned.
Consumers form the end point of the supply chain and are just as crucial to the track and trace mechanism as any other supply chain component. For instance, consumers can use Identem’s track and trace application to authenticate their products and that they came from a trusted retailer and not from a counterfeiter.