I interviewed Neil Thall who discussed Serialization and The Benefits for Brand Protection, Anti-counterfeiting, Anti-diversion and Consumer Protection.
Hello, Neil. I look forward to hearing your views today on the topic of serialization and the benefits for brand protection, anticounterfeiting, antidiversion, and consumer protection. Can you start by providing a brief background of yourself?
Yes, my name is Neil Thall. I’m CEO of Acsis Technology in Marlton, New Jersey. We provide serialization software for consumer goods and pharmaceuticals. My own personal background is that I’ve been in software and supply chain for many years; been in and run several companies in this arena; and my background is basically retail, custom-goods manufacturing, and pharmaceuticals.
Thank you. Can you talk about what is serialization?
Serialization, from a very neural perspective, is a manner of putting serial numbers on individual items. For example, in pharmaceuticals it would be putting serial numbers on bottles or on packaging. Then it can be at an aggregate level in terms of serializing at the carton level. For other products, it would be serialization on unique items or on their packaging for purposes of unique identification of the item. There are governmental mandates in the United States and around the world, in various countries, that require serialization individual product marking. Now there are new restriction that are for universal devices: Category 1, 2, and 3 in medical devices. That’s a very limited version of what serialization is. The broader version might be called enterprise serialization; so then we’re able to track and trace those individual items through the entire supply chain for many purposes, and I guess that we’re going to be talking about those. The purpose of serialization is not just marking; it’s what you do with those marks that’s really significant.
And what are the benefits?
Benefits of serialization are being able to track and trace items from raw material through to the, eventually, it’s to the consumer; for purposes of brand protection; anticounterfeiting; antidiversion; and just being able to know, for a manufacturer, for example, to be able to know where there products are at any time. It’s very significant in many countries in terms of the ability to actually track and trace those items.
How can companies realize these benefits?
Many companies right now are so focused on just putting serial numbers on items that they’re not looking at the broader benefits of serialization. They really need an overall plan together with their partners of how they’re going to use and what they’re going to do with those serial numbers. There are several companies that just put serial numbers on bottles, for example, in pharmaceuticals, and that allows them to meet governmental mandates both in the United States and in various European and Asian countries. However, they need to look at the broader aspects of what do they do with those serial numbers, how do they track them. They need to, when they install systems, look for systems that have the more broad capabilities to actually track those items through distribution and out to their trading partners. That is why they need that overall strategy: to make sure they’ve got that. Otherwise, they install systems that are of limited use; they will need to replace or significantly augment those. In the pharmaceutical arena, you may be aware that there’s something called validation and validation is very stringent and meets, in many cases, governmental requirements. If they make changes to that software for eventual use of the serial numbers for e-pedigree Track and Trace. They then would potentially need to do more expensive validation. They should be looking at all of that right now in terms of what they install so they can do it once and do it properly and do it with systems that are capable of being expanded. Specifically, I’m talking about systems that will handle warehousing and distribution and tracking those serialized items through a distribution center.
Returns are another significant benefit when serializing because returned items are frequently sold at various different prices depending upon where they are sold, to whom they’re sold, quantity, discounts, and those kinds of things. Many times when there are returns, there’s no way for a company to know exactly what was charged for any particular item. A lot of money’s lost in those returns by giving the customer a credit at an average cost, for example. With serialization, the manufacturer can find out exactly what was charged for any particular item and then give whatever return is appropriate based upon that original price.
Thanks, Neil. Did we cover all the points you wanted to make?
I think we did. I’m glad to speak with anyone. My information is firstname.lastname@example.org; glad to speak with anyone about that. I now that it can bet confusing because of the governmental mandates, because of the overall strategy that’s needed. We have a lot of experience here in doing this, and I’m glad to either speak with people directly or put them in touch with the right people in our company.
Thank you; it was a pleasure.
About Neil Thall
CEO at Acsis, Inc.