May 17, 2020

No one-size-fits-all for anti-counterfeiting in the supply chain, by Ingenia Technology

Supply Chain Digital
Supply Chain
supply chain news
Freddie Pierce
3 min
Brands looking to maintain greater control
Written by Andrew Gilbert (pictured, right), Business Development Director, Ingenia Technology Anti-counterfeiting and anti-diversion solutions are i...

Written by Andrew Gilbert (pictured, right), Business Development Director, Ingenia Technology



Anti-counterfeiting and anti-diversion solutions are imperative for high-end luxury brands looking to deliver a first-class experience to their customers. These brands must use the most sophisticated technologies available to protect against counterfeiting and diversion attempts. This is an increasingly complex challenge, especially as brandsin the high-value luxury goods space place more emphasis on protecting and authenticating individual items as opposed to product batches.

Luxury brands are also increasingly looking to maintain greater control over the whole customer buying experience of luxury products. For luxury brands, the purchasing environment is almost as important as the product being bought, with both needing consideration when protecting the brand as a whole.

Consumers are increasingly using online retailers to buy all types of products, including luxury cosmetics, fragrances and clothing. This is a particular challenge for luxury brands because these outlets are often more easily infiltrated by counterfeit and diverted products. As a result the desire to prevent diversion within supply chains and to maintain control of the customer experience, is adding to the complexity of brand protection and security strategies.

As brands look to increase control over their supply chains and production lines, demand is rising for solutions that can be integrated into product lines and warehouses easily – so that anti-counterfeiting and anti-diversion technologies become a seamless part of the manufacturing and packaging process.

A multi-layered approach - choosing the right technologies

However, ensuring that brands are protected by maximum security against counterfeiting and diversion at every level in the supply chain is a major challenge for high-end and luxury product manufacturers.

There is a huge range of security technologies available to brands - from simple overt solutions like barcodes and holograms, to more sophisticated covert techniques. Choosing the right technologies as part of a multi-layered, anti-counterfeiting and anti-diversion strategy is a challenge in itself, translating that strategy into an practical, integrated security solution that can be easily deployed in the manufacturing and packaging process adds yet another layer of complexity.


Additional challenges for high-value low-volume products

Despite the challenge of getting these strategies right, it might be easy to assume that ultimately most brands would require largely similar anti-counterfeiting and anti-diversion approaches - regardless of the sector in which the individual organisation operates.

However, many of the luxury brands producing high-value products in relatively low volumes, such as high-end cosmetics, fragrances, art, leather goods, eye-wear and alcohol, rely on processes that are still largely finished and packed by hand. This presents a fundamentally different set of brand protection requirements when compared to organisations with high-volume, automated production lines.

Superficially it may seem that it would be difficult to incorporate new security and anti-counterfeiting technologies into a hand-packing environment. However, for those high-end brands where the final stage of packaging is done manually, there are new technologies becoming available that will allow them to simply authenticate their products at the point of manufacture or packing.

This ability of luxury brands to incorporate new scanning technologies as part of the hand-packing process actually presents a significant opportunity for them to implement the latest highly secure covert technologies in a way that suits their products and processes.

No one-size-fits-all

The fundamental differences between a high-volume automated production line and a low-volume hand-packing environment mean that an all-encompassing security solution is unlikely to be directly applicable to both ends of the spectrum.

For technology providers such as Ingenia, it is important to bear this in mind and ensure that security technologies can be implemented for manual production lines as well as highly automated production facilities. There is a major opportunity for technology vendors and system integrators to provide anti-counterfeiting and anti-diversion solutions that deliver a variety of complementary technologies that can still be tailored and implemented in a flexible manner.

When it comes to providing the highest levels of security and brand protection there really is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution.

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Jun 11, 2021

NTT DATA Services, Remodelling Supply Chains for Resilience

6 min
Joey Dean, Managing Director of healthcare consulting at NTT DATA Services, shares remodelling strategies for more resilient supply chains

Joey Dean, the man with the coolest name ever and Managing Director in the healthcare consulting practice for NTT DATA and is focused on delivering workplace transformation and enabling the future workforce for healthcare providers. Dean also leads client innovation programs to enhance service delivery and business outcomes for clients.

The pandemic has shifted priorities and created opportunities to do things differently, and companies are now looking to build more resilient supply chains, none needed more urgently than those within the healthcare system. Dean shares with us how he feels they can get there.

A Multi-Vendor Sourcing Approach

“Healthcare systems cannot afford delays in the supply chain when there are lives at stake. Healthcare procurement teams are looking at multi-vendor sourcing strategies, stockpiling more inventory, and ways to use data and AI to have a predictive view into the future and drive greater efficiency.

“The priority should be to shore up procurement channels and re-evaluate inventory management norms, i.e. stockpiling for assurance. Health systems should take the opportunity to renegotiate with their current vendors and broaden the supplier channel. Through those efforts, work with suppliers that have greater geographic diversity and transparency around manufacturing data, process, and continuity plans,” says Dean.

But here ensues the never-ending battle of domestic vs global supply chains. As I see it, domestic sourcing limits the high-risk exposure related to offshore sourcing— Canada’s issue with importing the vaccine is a good example of that. So, of course, I had to ask, for lifesaving products, is building domestic capabilities an option that is being considered?

“Domestic supply chains are sparse or have a high dependence on overseas centres for parts and raw materials. There are measures being discussed from a legislative perspective to drive more domestic sourcing, and there will need to be a concerted effort by Western countries through a mix of investments and financial incentives,” Dean explains.

Wielding Big Tech for Better Outcomes

So, that’s a long way off. In the meantime, leveraging technology is another way to mitigate the risks that lie within global supply chains while decreasing costs and improving quality. Dean expands on the potential of blockchain and AI in the industry

“Blockchain is particularly interesting in creating more transparency and visibility across all supply chain activities. Organisations can create a decentralised record of all transactions to track assets from production to delivery or use by end-user. This increased supply chain transparency provides more visibility to both buyers and suppliers to resolve disputes and build more trusting relationships. Another benefit is that the validation of data is more efficient to prioritise time on the delivery of goods and services to reduce cost and improve quality. 

“Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML) is another area where there’s incredible value in processing massive amounts of data to aggregate and normalise the data to produce proactive recommendations on actions to improve the speed and cost-efficiency of the supply chain.”

Evolving Procurement Models 

From asking more of suppliers to beefing up stocks, Dean believes procurement models should be remodelled to favour resilience, mitigate risk and ensure the needs of the customer are kept in view. 

“The bottom line is that healthcare systems are expecting more from their suppliers. While transactional approaches focused solely on price and transactions have been the norm, collaborative relationships, where the buyer and supplier establish mutual objectives and outcomes, drives a trusting and transparent relationship. Healthcare systems are also looking to multi-vendor strategies to mitigate risk, so it is imperative for suppliers to stand out and embrace evolving procurement models.

“Healthcare systems are looking at partners that can establish domestic centres for supplies to mitigate the risks of having ‘all of their eggs’ in overseas locations. Suppliers should look to perform a strategic evaluation review that includes a distribution network analysis and distribution footprint review to understand cost, service, flexibility, and risks. Included in that strategy should be a “voice of the customer” assessment to understand current pain points and needs of customers.”

“Healthcare supply chain leaders are re-evaluating the Just In Time (JIT) model with supplies delivered on a regular basis. The approach does not require an investment in infrastructure but leaves organisations open to risk of disruption. Having domestic centres and warehousing from suppliers gives healthcare systems the ability to have inventory on hand without having to invest in their own infrastructure. Also, in the spirit of transparency, having predictive views into inventory levels can help enable better decision making from both sides.”

But, again, I had to ask, what about the risks and associated costs that come with higher inventory levels, such as expired product if there isn’t fast enough turnover, tying up cash flow, warehousing and inventory management costs?

“In the current supply chain environment, it is advisable for buyers to carry an in-house inventory on a just-in-time basis, while suppliers take a just-in-case approach, preserving capacity for surges, retaining safety stock, and building rapid replenishment channels for restock. But the risk of expired product is very real. This could be curbed with better data intelligence and improved technology that could forecast surges and predictively automate future supply needs. In this way, ordering would be more data-driven and rationalised to align with anticipated surges. Further adoption of data and intelligence and will be crucial for modernised buying in the new normal.

The Challenges

These are tough tasks, so I asked Dean to speak to some of the challenges. Luckily, he’s a patient guy with a lot to say.

On managing stakeholders and ensuring alignment on priorities and objectives, Dean says, “In order for managing stakeholders to stay aligned on priorities, they’ll need more transparency and collaborative win-win business relationships in which both healthcare systems and medical device manufacturers are equally committed to each other’s success. On the healthcare side, they need to understand where parts and products are manufactured to perform more predictive data and analytics for forecasting and planning efforts. And the manufacturers should offer more data transparency which will result in better planning and forecasting to navigate the ebbs and flows and enable better decision-making by healthcare systems.

Due to the sensitive nature of the information being requested, the effort to increase visibility is typically met with a lot of reluctance and push back. Dean essentially puts the onus back on suppliers to get with the times. “Traditionally, the relationships between buyers and suppliers are transactional, based only on the transaction between the two parties: what is the supplier providing, at what cost, and for what length of time. The relationship begins and ends there. The tide is shifting, and buyers expect more from their suppliers, especially given what the pandemic exposed around the fragility of the supply chain. The suppliers that get ahead of this will not only reap the benefits of improved relationships, but they will be able to take action on insights derived from greater visibility to manage risks more effectively.”

He offers a final tip. “A first step in enabling a supply chain data exchange is to make sure partners and buyers are aware of the conditions throughout the supply chain based on real-time data to enable predictive views into delays and disruptions. With well understand data sets, both parties can respond more effectively and work together when disruptions occur.”

As for where supply chain is heading, Dean says, “Moving forward, we’ll continue to see a shift toward Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and advanced analytics to optimise the supply chain. The pandemic, as it has done in many other industries, will accelerate the move to digital, with the benefits of improving efficiency, visibility, and error rate. AI can consume enormous amounts of data to drive real-time pattern detection and mitigate risk from global disruptive events.”


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