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GS1 Group Completes Early Phase of E-Pedigree Model

The organization's 2015 Readiness Program includes 50 companies in the pharmaceutical supply chain simulating the movement of products from a manufacturer to a drug store, as well as the electronic data that is captured, stored and shared along the way.
By Claire Swedberg
For example, a drug company could use the basic simulated supply chain to map out its own typical transit scenario, including its own packing and shipping processes, and then watch the items (signified by a small dot on the screen) move through the supply chain, thereby identifying problems that could arise. As the items move through the simulated supply chain, their ID numbers populate another screen to indicate each action completed. The model also enables users to build in their own likely events, such as overages, shortages, or counterfeit or diverted product, and then watch the effects of such an occurrence further down the supply chain.

As the group developed the forward logistics portion of its model development, it tried to resolve a variety of questions. For instance, at what point is a product considered received—when it physically arrives, or when the e-pedigree data is updated? And what should a wholesaler do if a drug arrives ahead of the pedigree data that spells out where that item is going, and where it had been? The group is considering suggesting the development of a staging area at these locations, where such goods could be stored pending data in the EPCIS system.

The group is now focusing on how exceptions that can slow down the process—such as a missing item within a case—will be managed. "We have completed quite a bit of work on defining exceptions," Celeste states. Exceptions would include anything that could slow or halt the progress of a product through the supply chain. "Through the 2015 Readiness Program, we are uncovering these exceptions and planning for them." Some examples of possible exceptions would be a case that the pedigree indicates contains 12 bottles, but that is found to have only 11 upon opening, or a case that is supposed to have 10 bottles but is actually found to have 12. Another example would be RFID tags or bar codes on bottles that are unreadable by a member of the supply chain. The group will attempt to suggest ways in which these exceptions can best be managed, without slowing the progress of products through the supply chain.

The Healthcare US Secure Supply Chain Task Force initially had both GS1 and non-GS1 members, though non-members must pay a fee to join. Since the task force organized, however, all non-members have become members as well.

By 2015, Celeste says, each supply chain partner will need to decide on a data-capturing strategy, such as where data should be captured and how it should be shared, to determine, for example, which business step is represented when that information is captured through an RFID read or bar-code scan.

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