Is Safe Global Transport More Likely with Supply-Chain Data?

When considering ways to prepare pharmaceuticals, biologics, and medical devices for transportation, we frequently turn to packaging solutions that can protect products from physical transportation hazards like shock and vibration. We also often seek to provide temperature control to ensure continuity throughout the cold chain. Such approaches work to protect products from known threats throughout the global supply chain.

But what about data control? Could data on product location, custody, and status make for a safer supply chain?  Or could a lack of data jeopardize product safety, especially that of the most sensitive of pharmaceuticals, biologics, or medical devices?
At the upcoming AIM Expo in Chicago, held November 1-3, experts will be looking at the role data can play in the supply chain. For instance, in the AIDC Workshop: “The Foundation of Visibility,” hosted by GS1 US, speakers will be linking the concepts of auto ID technology and supply-chain visibility.

In “Why AIDC Alone Does NOT Equal Visibility,” Grant Hunter, GS1 US/EPCglobal US, plans to explain that supply-chain visibility requires a company to “be able to uniquely identify, capture, and share data about the movement and location of goods and assets, and have the information understood by everyone along the supply chain.”

Ken Traub, GS1 US/EPCglobal US, will explain how GS1’s EPCIS networking and data-sharing standards can help users identify the “context” of bar code, RFID, and other auto ID reads.

Finally, in “The Value of Visibility,” Bob Celeste of GS1 US will present the concept of “using AIDC to enable supply chain visibility, that is, the ability to see the location of your products and assets (and know their state) as they move from point to point.”

Automatic identification technologies hold significant potential for identifying pharmaceutical, biological, and medical device items throughout the global supply chain. Many of these healthcare products are high-value cargo, often with high sensitivities, so developing standardized systems to communicate their location and status will be critical for ensuring quality patient care around the world. Supply-chain partners will need common platforms to communicate, regardless of location. Given the diversity of all the companies that meet along the supply chain, especially a global supply chain, the proposition of visibility is a challenging one, but nonetheless a worthy one.

I am excited to see auto ID professionals link the concepts of item identification to global asset location and status. Considerable effort is needed to execute item-level identification, so why not maximize its utility throughout your global supply chains?

Daphne Allen

For details about AIM Expo 2010, visit

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