- Asset tracking and management solutions
- Goods-in-transit visibility solutions
- Solutions based on highly granular supply chain visibility
- Solutions based on document-level supply chain visibility
In the report, Lawrie and colleagues identified a half-dozen vendors in each category, some of whom -- epcSolutions, Exterprise, IBM, SAP and Savi Technology -- have products in multiple categories and thus overlap in functionality. The key, of course, is to identify which products fit a given company's needs, but all still represent today, as the report says, "visibility [which] benefits buyers and sellers in complex value chains while reducing wasteful fluctuations in logistics capacity utilization."
Everyone derives benefits in that scenario: the ship is unloaded faster, the logistics carrier waits a shorter time, and the customer gets the shipment faster, Johnson says.
In pharmaceutics, security is a big issue, according to Ian Rosenblum, associate director for IT at Weston, Mass.-based Biogen Idec. "Counterfeit products endanger patients, but also diminish revenue," he says, noting that he's seen reports that as much as 40% of pharmaceutical products in developing countries may be counterfeit. "The entire industry is concerned about it, and we're starting to see global regulations aimed at preventing it."
Counterfeit products endanger patients and diminish revenue. The entire industry is concerned about it. Ian Rosenblum, Biogen Idec
The result is a marked increase in traceability and serialization mechanisms. Traceability at Biogen Idec involves using two-dimensional data matrix bar codes (similar to QR codes) to label packaging. While these barcodes require line of sight, Rosenblum says, they bring additional functionality: You can read each code, create a new label for the case, scan the cases, and create a label that's associated with everything on the pallet. (RFID isn't feasible, he adds, because "with biologic products, we have to make sure the RFID waves don't affect their efficacy.")