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The L1-L5 Solution Providers, Explained

Jargon. For better or for worse, it’s a fact of life — more so for people like us who work in the highly technical field of supply chain management. From ANSI to XML, an alphabet soup of shop talk can rain down upon us without warning, often leaving us scratching our heads (or at least searching online). L1-L5 solution provider? What does that mean?

And if we say rfxcel is an L4 and L5 solution provider, what does that mean? With as little jargon as possible, let’s find out. (Hint: It has nothing to do with alleviating back pain.)

What does the “L” stand for in L1-L5 solution provider?

The “L” in “L1-L5 solution provider” stands for “level,” as in the level of serialization in a supply chain. To put a finer point on it, it means the level of serialization and information management in a supply chain. And if you hadn’t guessed, there are five levels:

  • Level 1: Device
  • Level 2: Packaging
  • Level 3: Site
  • Level 4: Enterprise
  • Level 5: Network

The list above progresses from the smallest or most localized level, the L1 device level, to the most expansive and all-encompassing level, the L5 network level. Generally, L1, L2, and L3 are grouped together because they’re happening where products are created and packaged; L4 and L5 are paired together in the realm where those products enter the greater supply chain to make their way to their final destinations.

When talking about L1-L5, let’s work backwards from largest to smallest. This way, we can “zoom in on” the details and put everything in a more vivid context.

Level 5: Network

L5 is where rfxcel has its roots and where we built our reputation for supply chain excellence. The network level is where all serialization and regulatory data is managed, including with your trading partners, regulatory authorities and their repositories, and customers. It ensures you’re communicating with partners and complying with regulations.

Level 4: Enterprise

rfxcel’s roots also run deep in L4, which manages and verifies all your serialization and regulatory data/compliance reporting before sending it to L5. It also generates your serial numbers and manages all your business processes. When you design your solutions for L1, L2, and L3, you must decide how they will integrate with your L4 solution.

Level 3: Site

This is where we enter your actual manufacturing facilities and processes. L3 manages the line systems (i.e., L2) at your site to ensure that they are working optimally. L3 is optional; if present, it serves as the “middle man” between L4 and L2, requesting serial numbers from the former and allocating them to the latter.  L3 will also verify the L2 data before it is submitted to L4.

Level 2: Packaging

L2 systems control the L1 hardware and manage the serial numbers which are printed and applied on packages by L1 devices. L2 systems will communicate with the L4 (or L3,f present) to send/receive serial numbers as needed.

Level 1: Device

L1 comprises devices on a packaging line that enable serial numbers to be affixed to packaging and products, such as barcode printers, label printers, and labelers. It also includes cameras and scanners used for quality control, such as visual inspections of products and labeling.

rfxcel is an L4 and L5 solution provider that integrates with L2 and L3

As we said above, we’ve built a reputation for excellence for L4 and L5, the enterprise and network levels. This is our business: Creating innovative software solutions that optimize key supply chain requirements and functions — from the nuts and bolts of serialization and regulatory compliance to environmental monitoring and data analytics — and bring true end-to-end track and trace capabilities to any supply chain.

Our solutions ensure you’re communicating with all your trading partners, all regulatory bodies and their repositories, and your customers. We’ll help keep your lines running smoothly. We’ll yield rich, actionable data that you can use to improve your operations, connect with your customers, and build consumer trust and brand reputation.

We create one uniform, harmonized supply chain that takes care of everything from unit-level serialization and global compliance network needs to closing the last mile all the way to the person buying your product.

Final thoughts

All levels are important. They rely on one another to make things work. When you’re planning a serialization solution, you have to think very carefully about how they’ll interact and communicate.

rfxcel makes sure your data is accurate, travels quickly between and among levels, and meets the requirements of your partners and government authorities — no matter what systems you have in place now or will get in the future. Interconnectivity and interoperability are the cornerstones of all our implementations.

If you have questions about L1-L5, are looking to build a solution, or are considering switching solution providers, contact us today to talk with one of our supply chain experts and see what our award-winning rfxcel Traceability System can do.

Supply Chain Visibility Can Fight Fraud in the Time of COVID-19

Earlier this month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) posted an update about actions it’s taking to keep fraudulent COVID-19 treatments off the market. The examples of fraud the Agency gave illustrate why all industries — not just the pharmaceutical industry — need to embrace supply chain visibility. Let’s take a look at what the FDA said and why supply chain visibility is a panacea for the problem.

Consumer vulnerability, scammers, and unproven and potentially dangerous products

The FDA’s update addressed “the extremely concerning actions by companies and individuals that are exploiting or taking advantage of widespread fear among consumers during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

This statement reveals one reason fraud exists: consumer vulnerability. When people are confronted with a problem, especially one they feel they cannot control (such as a pandemic), some may tend to seek solutions without pausing to think them through. Peddlers of fake and substandard products are always ready to exploit this situation.

Which brings us to the scammers, many of whom use the internet to sell their bogus goods. Today, the FDA says, unscrupulous actors are claiming their products “mitigate, prevent, treat, diagnose, or cure COVID-19.” With the pandemic dominating headlines and weighing heavily on people’s minds, these quacks are only more than happy to offer unproven and potentially dangerous products.

What is the FDA doing, exactly?

The Agency has launched Operation Quack Hack to find and stop scammers. It’s located scores of phony products online, including fraudulent drugs, COVID-19 testing kits, and personal protective equipment. The FDA has issued 42 warning letters to companies making false COVID-19 claims and has sent hundreds of abuse complaints to domain name registrars and internet marketplaces, most of which have voluntarily removed the offending product pages.

One of the warning letters went to an organization selling fraudulent chlorine dioxide products as a COVID-19 treatment. When it refused to cease and desist sales of its so-called Miracle Mineral Solution, or “MMS,” a federal court issued a preliminary injunction requiring it to immediately stop distributing the product. The FDA characterizes chlorine dioxide as the equivalent of industrial bleach and since 2010 has been warning consumers about MMS and other products with names such as Master Mineral Solution, Chlorine Dioxide Protocol, and Water Purification Solution (WPS).

The FDA also intercepted and investigated a case of mislabeled COVID-19 “treatment kits” that someone was trying to import into the United States. Also, an FDA investigation led to a U.S. Department of Justice criminal complaint against a British man “who sought to profit from [the] pandemic and jeopardize public health.”

How supply chain visibility can fight fraud

Visibility means using data to gain insight into how a supply chain is functioning and to take steps to make it run more efficiently. The goal is to see everything.

A company must have systems that can gather and report data from one end of the supply chain to the other. Data should be as “rich” as possible; today, that means a digital supply chain with real-time access to unit-level data about everything from ingredients to temperature.

Here’s a rundown of how supply chain visibility can fight fraud. We’re using the pharma industry in our example, but the tenets apply to any product in any industry.

    • You know the origin of your ingredients. Supply chain visibility allows a manufacturer to verify that all the ingredients of a drug are legitimate. It can track every ingredient up until the time they’re combined to make the drug.
    • You can follow the drug’s every move: Part 1. After the drug has been manufactured, bottled, and packed into cases, you can see everywhere those cases go after they leave the plant — warehouses, stores, pharmacies, hospitals, etc. — and you can track their movements in real time. With supply chain visibility, you can anticipate traffic bottlenecks and reroute the delivery vehicle, keeping the shipment on time. You’ll also know if the delivery vehicle has been diverted from its prescribed route, which could indicate theft.
    • You know if the drug has been harmed or compromised. Supply chain visibility means you’ll be alerted if there’s a problem with the shipment. For example, if there’s been a change in temperature, light, or humidity that can affect the drug’s efficacy, or if the cases have been dropped or jolted in a way that might have damaged the bottles, packets, or vials inside. And we’ve already mentioned route diversion and theft.
    • You can follow the drug’s every move: Part 2. When the cases are separated (e.g., taken off a pallet), you can follow each one; when a case is opened, supply chain visibility lets you follow the individual bottles or packets all the way to check-out at the cash register or stocking at a pharmacy or hospital.

Final thoughts

Supply chain visibility creates an “airtight” supply chain that leaves virtually no room for unproven, potentially dangerous, fake, or otherwise fraudulent products to sneak in. And if such a product does appear, supply chain visibility means you can remove it faster. After all, when you can see everything, it’s easier to spot imposters and get rid of them.

rfxcel can provide supply chain visibility in any industry. Our signature rfxcel Traceability System (rTS) is a full-stack visibility and track and trace platform that comprises solutions that empower end-to-end supply chain visibility, including:

    • rfxcel Integrated Monitoring (rIM) is an award-winning solution that uses Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled devices to provide real-time data about 12+ environmental conditions (e.g., location, temperature, shock) of products anywhere in the world.
    • rfxcel MobileTraceability brings the power of an rTS digital supply chain to your smartphone, tablet, or other mobile device.

As FDA Associate Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs Dr. Judy McMeekin said, “It is imperative that we continue our efforts to find and prevent the sale and distribution of products that may be harmful to the public health.” Supply chain visibility is the way to do this. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.