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Meat Traceability in the Food Supply Chain: Getting to Know Your Protein

Today’s consumers demand transparency, particularly when it comes to the meat they consume. They want more information about how and where the livestock was raised and processed — not just from a nutritional standpoint, but also with regard to food safety practices, animal care practices, environmental impact, and worker safety. Put simply, they want meat traceability.

Consumers are making an emotional connection to the foods they buy and consume; they want to feel good about where their money is going and what they are putting into their bodies. While this trend has been growing over the past several years, it has gained significant traction recently. Add the pandemic into the mix, and you’ve got an even greater demand for transparency amid an environment driven by heightened health and financial concerns.

The supply chain saw significant disruption during the pandemic, as high infection rates in processing plants led to a marked curtail in operations in pork, beef, and poultry plants—and in some cases, plant closures. In fact, roughly 65 percent of meat processing plants experienced outbreaks and 20 percent were forced to temporarily suspend operations, which, in a consolidated meat industry, had a ripple effect across the country. As the outbreaks played out publicly, consumers grew even warier of the origins of their meats.

Adding more complexity to the issue, bad weather over the past year meant smaller corn and soybean harvests, making it harder and more expensive for cattle, hog, and poultry farmers to feed their herds. The last time the industry saw such high grain prices was during the 2012 U.S. drought.

As meat supplies diminished, consumer demand grew, with more people stuck inside and forced to cook and eat at home. The result: price inflation at the grocery stores, making it more expensive for consumers to feed their families. As they pay more for the foods that nourish their families and read headlines about the pandemic’s effects on the food supply chain, their demand for transparency has only become greater.

Meat traceability is more essential than ever

As we usher in a new era in food safety, meat traceability is no longer a “nice-to-have” — it’s essential. With increasing consumer demand for more information about where their protein is coming from, clear documentation from the farm to the end product is a must.

The Global Food Traceability Center defines traceability as the “ability to access any or all information relating to a food under consideration, throughout its entire life cycle, by means of recorded identifications.” This goes beyond the information itself; it’s about linking the information throughout the supply chain and ensuring coordinated processes and end-to-end meat traceability.

The good news is that tech-enabled meat traceability doesn’t have to be complicated, and its benefits are vast and powerful. From increased meat quality, improved food safety, and fewer product recalls to better inventory tracking and superior customer service, traceability delivers a range of benefits that go far beyond simply responding to consumers’ demand for information. With visibility across the entire supply chain, manufacturers can document and link the production, processing, and distribution chain of their protein products, which results in greater organizational efficiencies, reduced market and operational risks, a stronger competitive advantage, and a better brand image.

Final thoughts

While challenges continue to emerge amid a rapidly evolving global landscape, brands have an opportunity to tell a story that evokes a positive emotion and inspires a purchase. Consumers want to know that their meats were produced ethically and safely, and, of course, pose no risk to themselves or their families. As more and more people scan labels and packages for information about where their food came from and how it was made, transparency will play an increasingly crucial role in a meat producer’s brand image. It really comes down to trust: If consumers don’t trust your brand, they’ll be more than happy to buy another company’s product. Meat traceability satiates a consumer’s need for information, which builds trust with your brand.

From farm to table, rfxcel’s food supply chain solutions have you covered. Our award-winning Traceability System (rTS) is the basis of a modernized, digital supply chain with fully customizable and scalable solutions that yield complete end-to-end meat traceability. It is the foundation of a digital supply chain and a successful food recall management system that operates with surgical precision.

Offering the most complete and flexible raw materials and meat traceability solution for food and beverage, we’ll help you to optimize your supply chain operations while catering to the consumers’ increasing demand for information about the meats they consume.

rfxcel Enters into Acquisition Agreement with Antares Vision Group

The combination of rfxcel’s industry-leading traceability software platform and Antares Vision’s solutions for intelligent track and trace will create significant value for customers.

Reno, Nevada, Feb. 19, 2021 (EINPRESSWIRE). rfxcel, a global leader in digital supply chain traceability solutions, today announced that it had entered into an acquisition agreement with Italy’s Antares Vision Group, a leading global provider of intelligent track and trace, inspection, and smart data management solutions for the life sciences and food and beverage sectors.

rfxcel CEO Glenn Abood said the agreement marked the start of an expansive era for the company he co-founded with Chief Strategy Officer Jack Tarkoff in 2003. “This is an exciting new chapter for rfxcel,” he said, “a time for the company and our customers to look to the future.

“Becoming part of Antares Vision Group will give us new ways to strengthen our relationships with our customers and provide them with enhanced solutions as they do their important work in the life sciences, food and beverage, consumer goods, and government industries. Plus,” Abood continued, “the integration of our companies’ capabilities will enable us to drive into new markets and geographies as the undisputed leader in supply chain track and trace solutions. It really is a ‘win-win’ for our global teams and our customers.”

The Antares Vision Group will leverage rfxcel’s capabilities and signature rfxcel Traceability System (rTS) software suite to help customers accelerate their transition toward digital and sustainable supply chains characterized by full transparency and visibility. Together, the companies will provide a full stack, end-to-end digital supply chain solution that will optimize and streamline customers’ operations while providing complete end-to-end visibility, from product ingredients and raw materials to the end customer experience.

rTS is a digital supply chain visibility platform comprising up to eight discrete solutions that work in concert to harmonize, optimize, automate, and monitor virtually every aspect of supply chain operations, including serialization, regulatory compliance, Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled monitoring, and raw materials and finished goods traceability. rfxcel also offers a Mobile Traceability app that extends the power of rTS to users at every node of the supply chain, from remote fields and warehouses to retail outlets.

Emidio Zorzella, chairman and CEO of Antares Vision, said he and co-founder Massimo Bonardi were “delighted” about the agreement with rfxcel. “Demand for traceability and serialized products and services has increased significantly over the last few years,” he said, “and this transaction accelerates our ability to offer best-in-class propositions in all our key reference sectors, life science and food and beverage. We look forward to welcoming the management and employees of rfxcel to the Antares Vision Group and working together to serve our customers across the world.”

Abood added that both companies shared the same goals and Antares Vision would help rfxcel accelerate its plans. “The rfxcel management team is delighted to join with Antares Vision to offer customers the most complete end-to-end solution for track and trace on the market today.”

For more information about the acquisition agreement or the companies’ solutions, contact Herb Wong, rfxcel’s vice president of marketing and strategic initiatives, at hwong@rfxcel.com or 925-824-0300.

About rfxcel

Founded in 2003, rfxcel provides leading-edge software solutions to help companies build and manage their digital supply chain, lower costs, and protect their products and brand reputations. Blue-chip organizations in the life sciences (pharmaceuticals and medical devices), food and beverage, worldwide government, and consumer goods industries trust rfxcel’s signature Traceability System (rTS) to power end-to-end supply chain solutions in key areas such as track and trace, environmental monitoring, regulatory compliance, serialization, and visibility. The company is headquartered in the United States and has offices in the United Kingdom, the EU, Latin America, Russia, India, Japan, the Middle East, and the Asia-Pacific region.

About Antares Vision

Listed since April 2019 on the AIM Italia market of the Italian Stock Exchange, Antares Vision Group guarantees the protection of products, people and brands through inspection systems for quality control, track and trace solutions for anti-counterfeiting and supply chain transparency, smart data management tools for maximized efficiency and digitalization of the supply chain, from the point of production to the end consumer. The Antares Vision Group is active in the life science sector, including the pharmaceutical, medical device, and hospital segments, as well as in other industries, including, primarily, food and beverage, cosmetics, and in consumer-packaged goods. The Group reaches over 60 countries worldwide with complete and flexible solutions, hardware, and software, with related services: it has five offices in Italy (Brescia, Parma, Piacenza, Latina and Vicenza), 15 foreign branches (Germany [2], France [2], USA [3], Latin America [2], India, Russia, Hong Kong, China, Croatia, and Serbia), three Innovation and Research Centers (Italy) and a worldwide network of more than 40 partners. With the 20 years of experience in vision technologies of the two founding partners, the Antares Vision Group is the supplier of 10 of the 20 leading pharmaceutical companies in the world (by turnover), with more than 25,000 inspection systems, which ensure everyday product safety and quality, 6,500 quality controls, and more than 3,500 serialization modules on lines installed all over the world. With the aim of continuing and supporting the growth and development strategy, during 2019, Antares Vision finalized participation agreements with T2 Software, a Brazilian company specialized in smart data management solutions, and Orobix, an Italian company leader in artificial intelligence services, and acquired 100 percent of FT System, leader in control and inspection in the beverage sector. In 2020, Antares Vision acquired 82.83 percent of Tradeticity, a Croatian company specialized in software management of traceability and serialization processes, 100 percent of Convel, an Italian company specialized in automated inspection machines for the pharmaceutical industry, the assets of Adents High Tech International, a French company specialized in software for serialization and traceability, and 100 percent of Applied Vision, a global leader in inspection systems for glass and metal containers in food and beverage. In 2019, Emidio Zorzella and Massimo Bonardi won the Ernst & Young “Entrepreneur of the Year” award for innovation. For more info: www.antaresvision.com.

rfxcel Welcomes Lincoln Manning as Chief Revenue Officer

Reno, Nevada, Sept. 17, 2020. rfxcel, the global leader in digital supply chain traceability solutions, today announced that Lincoln Manning has joined its executive team as chief revenue officer. Mr. Manning will be responsible for all aspects of revenue generation, including worldwide sales, ecosystem partnerships, sales operations, and systems engineering for the company’s verticals, which include the life sciences (pharmaceuticals and medical devices), food and beverage, government, and consumer goods.

“We are glad to have Lincoln on our team,” said rfxcel CEO and Co-Founder Glenn Abood. “He brings a wealth of experience from diverse industries that he’ll be able to leverage across rfxcel. We are particularly excited about his devotion to and excellence in anticipating what customers need and doing what it takes to ensure they succeed. This is one of our corporate values.

“Lincoln also has a track record of building and strengthening sales teams. Our sales teams are solid in every market, but Lincoln will take them to the next level, helping us maintain our leadership where we’re already established and build our presence where we’re still growing.”

Prior to joining rfxcel, Mr. Manning held executive-level positions at software and digital marketing companies. He led sales, marketing, and customer success teams to increase revenue, reinvent business ecosystems, navigate post-merger corporate change, and reset reseller channels.

“There couldn’t be a more perfect time to be joining rfxcel,” Mr. Manning said. “Our mission of keeping the supply chain safe in key verticals is more important today than ever. I believe rfxcel is uniquely positioned globally to ensure products are safely delivered to patients and consumers, because of our agility and ability to respond to customer needs in today’s ever-changing environment.”

Mr. Abood co-founded rfxcel with Chief Strategy Officer Jack Tarkoff in 2003, so Mr. Manning joins the company as it celebrates 17 years of supply chain innovations and growth. Recent successes include conducting major pharma pilots for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Brazilian government; tripling the size of its team in Russia and being named an official software and integration partner of the Center for Research in Perspective Technologies (CRPT), which operates Russia’s National Track and Trace Digital System (Chestny ZNAK); releasing the latest version of its award-winning rfxcel Traceability Solution; increasing its presence in the Middle East; and being named 2020 Software Company of the Year by Nevada’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology (NCET).

“Lincoln’s joining us at a busy time,” Abood said. “We’re keeping our customers’ supply chains running during the pandemic, improving our products and developing new solutions, and expanding our operations globally. Lincoln will be a huge asset as we continue to secure and optimize the pharma, food and beverage, government, and consumer goods supply chains. By strengthening our commitment to our customers, he’ll strengthen rfxcel. We’re all excited to have him on the team.”

For more information about rfxcel’s solutions, contact Herb Wong, vice president of marketing and strategic initiatives, at hwong@rfxcel.com or 925-824-0300.

 

About rfxcel

Founded in 2003, rfxcel provides leading-edge software solutions to help companies build and manage every aspect of a digital supply chain, lower costs, and protect their products and brand reputations. Blue-chip organizations in the life sciences (pharmaceuticals and medical devices), food and beverage, worldwide government, and consumer goods industries trust rfxcel’s signature Traceability System (rTS) to power end-to-end supply chain solutions in key areas such as track and trace, environmental monitoring, regulatory compliance, serialization, and visibility. The company is headquartered in the United States and has offices in the United Kingdom, the EU, Latin America, Russia, India, Japan, the Middle East, and the Asia-Pacific region.

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.

Why We Need Wine Industry Track and Trace, Part 1

It was tempting to write about wine industry track and trace as a film noir (or a film pinot noir, as it were). There would be clandestine grape-stomping, midnight rendezvous in terraced vineyards, rogue chemists, cases stuffed with euros and dollars, sting operations and FBI raids, people taken away in handcuffs. In the closing scene, the one-time victim would celebrate triumph over those who did them wrong.

This much drama for wine industry track and trace? Yes, though it’s about much more than the serious work of fighting counterfeits and illicit trade. It’s about using technology to build provenance, streamline operations, and satisfy customers.

Part 1 of our two-part story covers the basics of wine industry track and trace. Part 2 will get into specifics. Let’s start our investigation.

Seriously, why do we need wine industry track and trace?

Not all supply chains are created equal. For example, if you read our Seafood Transparency Trilogy, you know a large, geographically diverse, and fragmented supply chain poses many challenges.

Plus, some products are more complex than others, which means they have more complex supply chains. From raw materials/ingredients to what consumers expect (or demand), supply chains vary wildly depending on what’s being made, where it’s being delivered, and even “the culture” of the product.

As you might have guessed, wine has a complicated supply chain. GS1, in its 2009 Wine Supply Chain Traceability Guideline, said, “The wine supply chain has always been complex and fragmented and with more distant suppliers and ever-more demanding customers, the unique characteristics of this supply chain bring challenges to implementing an effective traceability system.”

If you wanted to get technical, you could argue that there are actually two wine supply chains.

First, there’s a supply chain for “table wine” or “mass market wine.” Depending on where you live, you’ll find these in your local grocery store, in a wine/spirits shop, or in a state-owned store (an “ABC Store,” “package store,” or “state store”). This supply chain has many actors and the product changes hands many times. The product itself changes dramatically as it moves from raw materials to a finished good. Stakeholders typically have access to technology, including track and trace technology.

The second supply chain is for “fine wines,” which are produced in much smaller quantities than table wines. Though these vintages are sold in “regular” wine shops, they’re often reserved for boutique settings frequented by aficionados with deep pockets (or at least bigger budgets they’ve set aside for their passion). The steps of production and distribution may be very localized, resulting in a supply chain with far fewer actors than for mass-produced wine. For example, a winery in Burgundy, France, might do everything from growing the grapes and bottling to distributing pallets, cartons, or cases to local retailers. Because of their size, they may not have access to the latest track and trace technology.

So, why do we need wine industry track and trace? Here are the key reasons:

  • It’s a complex, fragmented supply chain.
  • There are diverse ingredients and raw materials, ranging from fertilizers and water to bottles, corks, and caps — and, of course, grapes.
  • Wine is heavily regulated.
  • Consumers of all stripes want the full provenance for what they’re drinking.

Wine industry track and trace will improve operations for all, ensure compliance with regulations, and satisfy consumer demand for detailed information and transparency.

Two other reasons for wine industry track and trace

Like other industries, wine has business and professional organizations for its supply chain stakeholders. There are trade publications and trade shows. It does big promotions. It has all the trappings of a large, important industry.

Unlike other industries, however, wine has a following. It is more than a product. Wine is a global culture unto itself. And this means there are aspects to its history and very existence that have ramifications for the supply chain.

For starters, there’s a thriving counterfeit market and illicit trade. Granted, this isn’t unique to wine, but the intricacies of the production process and the many facets of supply and demand make it an especially daunting problem. These stories from 2020 give an idea of its scope:

Furthermore, there’s a thriving, passionate collectors’ scene around the world. There’s a huge private trade, in-person and online clubs, mega-exclusive events and dinners, and auctions with nosebleed prices. And there’s lots of money changing hands. A desirable bottle of wine can cost as much as a car. Or a house. The 2019 auction market alone was valued at more than $520 million.

As a cautionary tale that combines the scourge of counterfeiting with the rarefied air of the highest echelons of the wine elite, there’s the fascinating case of Rudy Kurniawan. If you don’t know the story, start here. You might want to grab a glass of wine — just make sure you know where it really came from.

So, counterfeiting and illicit trade are major problems, including in collectors’ circles, where today’s wines are tomorrow’s pricey classics. Provenance, therefore, is vitally important across the supply chain, which is another compelling reason for wine industry track and trace.

Final thoughts

In our faux noir introduction, we said the victim triumphed in the end. What we meant was that wine industry track and trace protects everyone in the supply chain, from winemakers and their trading partners to everyday consumers and auction houses.

Producers can prove the provenance of their ingredients and final products. They can create a story about their wines, connect with consumers, and build and safeguard their brand reputation. Distributors and retailers can maintain the chain of ownership and help ensure only genuine products make it to market, all while streamlining and automating logistics. Consumers can know more about the wines they buy, such as where the grapes were grown, when they were harvested, and if they were treated with pesticides. For fine wines that may become collectors’ items, provenance can be “passed down” as a bottle or case or entire cellar ages, providing much-needed proof that a wine is what it’s label says it is.

As the leader in track and trace technology, rfxcel can help. Our award-winning rfxcel Traceability System is perfectly suited for wine industry track and trace. For example, our Raw Materials Traceability and Finished Goods Traceability solutions create the entire product provenance with detailed data about every aspect of production. Our Integrated Monitoring solution rides along with products as they move through the supply chain, protecting them from environmental excursions, diversion, and theft. With our MobileTraceability app, you can see and control your supply chain from virtually anywhere in the world.

Talk with one of our supply chain experts today to learn more about what we can do. And check back soon for Part 2 of our wine industry track and trace series.

How a Digital Consumer Goods Supply Chain Builds Brand Reputation & Trust

Everybody knows people don’t shop like they used to. Today, consumers demand detailed information about the goods they purchase and expect to interact with products far beyond the point of sale. To make this happen, companies have to build a sharable product provenance and create a product experience. And they can do this with a digital consumer goods supply chain. Let’s see how.

What is a digital consumer goods supply chain?

First, let’s establish that when we talk about a digital consumer goods supply chain, we’re really talking about a digital supply chain for consumer goods.

What do we mean by this? Well, though a digital supply chain can most definitely be designed to serve the specific and unique needs of any industry — consumer goods, for example — in and of itself, it doesn’t discern or care about what industry it’s working for. It’s an important distinction, because any industry can (and should) have digital supply chain.

So, a digital consumer goods supply chain is exactly that: a digital supply chain for consumer goods. It has all the wonderful, powerful, customizable, data-centric capabilities of a digital supply chain “pointed at” the specific and unique needs of a consumer goods company. That can mean an apparel company, a company that makes fast-moving consumer goods, or a laundry detergent concern.

To break it down with industry lingo, a digital consumer goods supply chain will optimize operations for the four types of consumer goods: convenience products, shopping products, specialty products, and unsought products.

Using a digital supply chain to secure brand reputation and trust

Benjamin Franklin said, “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.”

Franklin (probably) wasn’t thinking about the ability of a digital consumer goods supply chain to deliver end-to-end visibility and transparency, or its unique ability to engage people almost everywhere they go, before and after a sale. But if we could explain to Ben what all this means, he would (definitely) agree that a digital consumer goods supply chain was the key to securing brand reputation and trust.

Here’s how.

End-to-end visibility

End-to-end visibility in a digital consumer goods supply chain creates a full, traceable provenance for every product. You can add critical tracking events and key data elements at any point in your supply chain. For example, add a photo of a product as it leaves the factory or integrate a quality inspection to enrich the data associated with the product. Consumers can access this information and confirm that your product is what you say it is. This burnishes your reputation and builds trust with the people who buy your products or are thinking about buying your products.

And let’s not forget the other benefits of end-to-end visibility. (In fact, all the things we’re talking about have additional benefits for consumer goods companies.) If you can see every part of your digital consumer goods supply chain from one end to the other, you’ll be able to manage operations more efficiently, including dealing with recalls and other crisis situations. You’ll make it harder for counterfeits and fakes to reach consumers. You’ll consolidate data to improve processes, outcomes, and product quality. And you’ll be empowered to make better decisions based on that data.

End-to-end transparency

Transparency is a kind of “full disclosure” about what happens in your supply chain. For example, were the ingredients sourced in sustainable manner? Are all actors in your supply chain adhering to regulations and other pertinent laws?

And consumers want transparency. According to one recent study, a staggering 81 percent of food shoppers say transparency is important or extremely important to them — and if they don’t get it, they’re more than happy to buy another brand.

In a digital consumer goods supply chain, consumers can verify that you employ sustainable practices to make and deliver your products. They can get information that shows exactly where and how their shoes or clothing were manufactured. And if they can see that you’re doing everything “right,” your reputation will grow and they’ll trust you more (and maybe even tell their friends about you.)

Engage people almost everywhere they go

The customer is always right — but today that means more than merely ensuring they’re happy with your goods and services. Now it means you’re nurturing a committed relationship. Therefore, when we talk about engagement in a digital consumer goods supply chain, we’re talking about bringing the supply chain directly to consumers. Sharing details (not just visibility and transparency, by the way) and bringing people into the “world” of your brand.

The most effective way to do this is to use mobile traceability technology, which of course is all digital. It puts the supply chain right into the consumer’s hands. For example, using their mobile device, a person scans a 2D Data Matrix code on your product and is taken to a website full of relevant content, special offers, and so on. If you sell shoes, it may be a video of a famous athlete wearing your latest model. If you sell food items, it could be recipes or information about where the ingredients came from. It can be anything you want, really, from coupons to information about your sustainability and environmental efforts.

By taking advantage of mobile traceability, you’ll build your brand reputation and trust by presenting visibility and traceability information in a clear, compelling manner; enabling consumers to share a pre- and post-sale experience with your product; and fostering a lifelong relationship with your brand.

Final thoughts

If you don’t have a digital consumer goods supply chain, you aren’t maximizing your potential for building your brand reputation and consumer trust. Plus, you’re missing out on its many other benefits, including:

  • Monitoring and protecting your products 24/7
  • Mitigating risk and supply chain blind spots
  • Combatting counterfeits, fakes, and theft
  • Automating your workflow
  • Eliminating paper records
  • Future-proofing your operations

If you don’t have a digital supply chain, it’s all right. rfxcel was made for this moment. Our digital supply chain solutions, anchored by our award-winning rfxcel Traceability System, feature leading-edge products like our rfxcel Integrated Monitoring solution and MobileTraceability app for supply chain traceability and visibility. Our teams of experts can help you create a digital consumer goods supply chain that builds your brand reputation and consumer trust while delivering all the other benefits we’ve discussed above. Contact us today to find out more.

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India Pharma News: FDA Recalls, COVID-19 Vaccine & Ideas Summit 2020

The last time we checked in on the India pharma supply chain, the country had announced restrictions on the export of active pharmaceutical ingredients and medicines, launched its national iVEDA portal for drug authentication and track and trace, and changed a deadline for regulations concerning drug exports.

There have been some India pharma headlines in the last week or two, so let’s do a summer roundup.

FDA Recall of India Pharma Products

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Indian government work together on pharma supply chain issues. From January 28–30, 2020, for example, a joint action called Operation Broadsword prevented approximately 500 shipments of illegal and unapproved prescription drugs and medical devices from reaching U.S. consumers.

Now, two Indian pharma companies are voluntarily recalling lots of Metformin Hydrochloride Extended-Release Tablets because FDA analysis revealed they could contain nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), a known carcinogen, above the acceptable limit. The recall affects both 500mg and 1000mg tablets. Metformin is commonly used to treat type 2 diabetes. A complete list of all metformin products being recalled is available on the FDA website.

There are two other FDA recalls affecting Indian pharma companies. About 1,500 bottles of Clozapine are being recalled after 50mg tablets were found in bottles of 100mg tablets, and one lot of Aripiprazole tablets are being recalled because bottles labeled as containing 30 2mg tablets actually contain 100 5mg tablets. Clozapine is used to treat mood/mental disorders and Aripiprazole is used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

India pharma company anticipates COVID-19 vaccine early next year

The chairman of Ahmedabad-based Zydus Cadila says he expects phase 1 and phase 2 studies of its novel coronavirus vaccine to be completed in three months. It is currently testing the vaccine, ZyCoV-D, for safety and efficacy. It will be compared with placebo.

As reported in the Hindu Times, Chairman Pankaj Patel said the vaccine could be ready in “about seven or a little more than seven months … provided the data is encouraging and the vaccine is proven to be effective during the trials.” He said Cadila might be able to produce up to 100 million doses a year.

Zydus Cadila is also planning to produce remdesivir, which is being used worldwide to treat COVID-19. Patel the company could produce up to 400,000 doses of the medicine in the first month after it wins regulatory approval to manufacture it in India.

India Ideas Summit 2020

The United States India Business Council (USIBC) is holding its 45th annual meeting next week. Together with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, it will host the Ideas Summit, also an annual event, from July 21-22. It will be a virtual gathering, naturally.

This year’s theme is “Building a Better Future.” Looking to a “post-COVID world,” diplomats, scholars, senior business executives, think tanks, and other thought leaders will discuss topics ranging from geopolitics and equitable growth to the future of healthcare and digitization and technology trends.

They will also focus on global supply chains. This month, the USIBC released a white paper entitled “Positioning India to Capture Global Supply Chains & Grow Economic Opportunity.” The 22-page paper is of interest to anyone who follows supply chains and recognizes India’s position in global markets. It touches on the work of the USIBC Task Force on Supply Chain Standards and Practices and how the country is working to attract new supply chains. Read the white paper here.

Final thoughts

India will undoubtedly continue to cultivate its position in the global pharmaceutical industry. It’s actively modernizing its supply chain. For example, in April it replaced its Drugs Authentication and Verification Application (DAVA) with the Integrated Validation of Exports of Drugs from India and its Authentication (iVEDA) portal.

We’ve worked in the India pharma market for many years and understand its complexities, challenges, and benefits. Our signature rfxcel Traceability System (rTS) and rfxcel Compliance Management (rCM) solution have helped our customers keep up with India’s regulations and remain competitive.

Contact us today to see how we can maximize your impact in India.

rfxcel Continues Winning Streak in Russian Serialization, Track and Trace

Once again, Russia’s Center for Research in Perspective Technologies (CRPT) has named rfxcel an official partner, this time for software and integration for dairy, bottled water, footwear, wheelchairs, tires, perfumes, bicycles, and light industry. We’re pretty excited about this. We had already been named an official software, integration, and tested solutions partner for medications. Our team in Moscow has worked hard to make us the leader in Russian serialization and track and trace for all industries; you should contact them if you have any questions about doing business in Russia.

The CRPT is a public-private partnership that manages Russia’s National Track and Trace Digital System, known as Chestny ZNAK. Our rfxcel Traceability System (rTS) works seamlessly with the system, including a Russian-language user interface that makes integration and startup much quicker.

Let’s take a quick look at what’s going on with the dairy and bottled water industries in Russia, and why we’re leading in Russian serialization and track and trace.

The CRPT and Russian Serialization/ChestnyZNAK “Experiments”

The CRPT follows best practices by conducting “experiments” — what we would call pilots — for products before the officially enter the ChestnyZNAK system. The pilot for dairy ran from July 15, 2019, to February 29, 2020; for bottled water, the pilot began April 1, 2030, and is scheduled to end March 1, 2021.

A pilot for bicycles wrapped at the end of May 2020, and a current one for wheelchairs is  expected to end June 1, 2021. Pilots for children’s goods (e.g., baby food, clothing, toys, and games) and medical devices will apparently be announced soon.

Requirements for Dairy and Bottled Water

Russia’s supply chain regulations are notoriously strict. This is one reason being named an official CRPT partner is a feather in our cap: We’ve demonstrated that our solutions, particularly our signature rfxcel Traceability System (rTS) and Compliance Management (rCM), can meet the requirements and ensure companies stay compliant.

We’re currently working on some other materials about the regulations for dairy and bottled water (and tires and other products), so check back soon to see those. In the meantime, however, here’s some basic information to tide you over.

Dairy

All products must be labeled with a DataMatrix code. The code must contain the following:

  • The goods code (14 numerical digits)
  • An individual serial number (13 digits) generated by the CRPT or a company’s economic agent
  • A verification key provided by the CRPT (4 digits)

According to the language in the regulations, companies may include an expiration date (6 characters for non-perishables, 10 for perishables), but that is not mandatory.

Product packaging mush have a 15×15 mm space for the codes. If a product has a cap, such milk in a PET bottle, the material and surface texture must be able to accommodate printing (e.g., ink or laser).

Bottled water

The regulations recognize six categories of bottled water. In addition to three unexplained “other” categories, these include:

  • Waters, including natural or artificial mineral, carbonated, free from sugar or other sweetening or flavoring substances. (The regulations also mention “ice and snow” under this category.)
  • Mineral and carbonated waters, including natural mineral waters:
  • Non-carbonated waters

The DataMatrix code must contain the same information as the codes for dairy. And like dairy, companies have the option to include other information, such as an expiration date or a minimum retail price.

Final thoughts

Our success with the CRPT is due to a lot of hard work and our commitment to designing the best solutions for Russian serialization, track and trace, aggregation, and compliance.

When Chestny ZNAK was enacted into law on December 29, 2017, we began honing our operations in Russia. About this time last year, we reported that we had doubled the size of our team in Russia; since then, it’s tripled in size. We’re one of very few supply chain solution providers with active implementations in Russia, and we’re working with more and more companies as our reputation grows.

Our continued success with the CRPT, ChestnyZNAK, and Russian serialization boils down to the quality of our solutions and the knowledge and skill of our people, who have expertise in key areas of supply chain management and technology. They all speak Russian, of course, and they know the regulations inside and out. They understand how to meet our customers’ needs while ensuring they’re fully compliant with Russian serialization, aggregation, and supply chain compliance requirements.

Contact us today learn more about how rfxcel can help you with Russian serialization and the ChestnyZNAK regulations. And be sure to ask about our other track and trace and compliance solutions. Sure, we’re the leader in Russian serialization, aggregation, track and trace, and supply chain compliance solutions, but we can optimize any supply chain anywhere in the world. Ask us how!

Saudi Pharma Compliance: New Aggregation Deadline & More

Things have been relatively quiet with Saudi pharma compliance. The country’s Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) established the Drug Track and Trace System (RSD) to track all human registered drugs that are manufactured in Saudi Arabia or imported. Regulations that took effect in January 2019 have changed how the Saudi drug supply chain operates.

The RDS is a standardized identification system that tracks drugs from the manufacturer to the patient. It adopts GS1 standards and applies to all pharmaceutical products on the Saudi market, including over-the-counter (OTC) medicines. According to GS1, the SFDA is working on similar requirements for medical devices and cosmetics.

The SFDA’s goal is to create a safer and more efficient pharmaceutical supply chain. To succeed in the Saudi market, companies that produce, distribute, and dispense pharmaceuticals must fully understand and comply with the regulations. Let’s take a look at what’s been happening.

New Aggregation Deadline

Aggregation has been a sticking point in the Saudi pharma compliance requirements, with many delays for enactment. Here’s a quick timeline:

  • July 2019: The SFDA published guidelines for barcodes that included details for packaging hierarchies. This included barcoding, serialization, and pallet-level aggregation.
  • August 2019: The SFDA published a reminder about an upcoming October aggregation deadline.
  • December 2019: The SFDA moved the aggregation deadline to March 31, 2020.
  • April 2020: The SFDA moved the aggregation deadline to June 30, 2020.
  • June 28, 2020: The SFDA once again moved the aggregation deadline, this time till August 20, 2020.

So, as of today, companies have a little more than a month to comply with the aggregation requirements. This means they’ll have to prepare their packaging lines, coordinate with their trading partners, and have systems that can capture and report data to the RSD.

Overview of Saudi Pharma Compliance

Here’s quick rundown of what’s required for Saudi pharma compliance.

Data Matrix barcodes

Saudi regulations stipulate that all drugs must be marked with a GS1 Data Matrix barcode that contains, at minimum, a 14-digit Global Trade Identification Number (GTIN-14), a serial number, the expiry date, and the batch/lot number. This information must also be printed on labels. All transactions for drug packages must be reported to the RSD, and all manufacturers licensed by the SFDA must acquire a Global Location Number (GLN).

Saudi Drug Code

Every registered drug in the Saudi market is assigned a Saudi Drug Code (SDC) that contains four variables: a fixed prefix, the year, a letter to identify the type of drug, and a serial number (e.g., SFDA12D001). The SDC will eventually replace the current code.

Global Location Numbers

From March 2018, companies had to register the locations of their factories and warehouses using their Global Location Numbers (GLNs).

RSD Stakeholder Management and Operation Portals

Companies use the Stakeholder Management Portal for initial registration in the RSD. The Stakeholder Operation Portal is where companies and their stakeholders report movements of drugs inside the supply chain. This ensures that information about all shipments are reported to Saudi  authorities.

According to the SFDA website, after a company has integrated its system with the RSD, all drug movements will be recorded automatically; companies/stakeholders won’t have to log in to the Stakeholder Operation Portal manually or register transactions manually.

Final thoughts

Saudi pharma compliance is complex. Manufacturers, warehouses, and pharmacies have a lot to think about. Though the date for implementing aggregation requirements has changed a few times, you should assume the August 20 deadline will hold firm.

The time to start preparing is now. rfxcel can help you be ready for all Saudi pharma compliance requirements. Our signature rfxcel Traceability Platform (rTS) can help you keep track of all the products in your supply chain and ensure you’re complying with all SFDA requirements — or regulations in any country.

Contact us for more information. Our supply chain experts are ready to help!

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.