Serialisation: How to Turn a Burden into a Benefit?
By Robert Jan van der Horst, IT Director, DSM Sinochem Pharmaceuticals
Serialisation will for sure bring benefits to the Pharma Industry. It will deliver brand protection and it will help combat against counterfeiting. Next to that, the entire supply chain (from manufacturer to pharmacist) will become fully tracked and traceable so that pharmacists can always verify the authenticity of the product before handing over to the end-consumers.
But the implementation of Serialisation is not a simple software update, it will be a major operation in the adaptation of software systems, manufacturing equipment, inspection equipment, communication networks, messaging with government bodies, endpoint devices at the pharmacist, and you name it.
This article will focus only on the so-called level 4 systems, the core ERP system in the company. All companies active in the production of medicinal products will have to decide how they will fit the Serialisation solution in their IT landscape. I want to share with you what we have discovered during the selection process and hopefully this is good input for those companies that haven’t decided yet.
The End-markets Drive the Speed:
• Depending on the end markets where the company is active, Serialisation is already or soon going to be a legal requirement (e.g. Turkey, China, USA).
• These markets can only be served when the packaging is properly serialized, hence companies should already be fully prepared. EU is coming in 2019. New markets are emerging in Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, Russia and Brazil but still without clear requirements.
The Existing IT Landscape, Business Processes and IT strategy Set the Tone:
• Centralised landscape and processes: Solutions are needed
• Scattered landscape and non-harmonised processes: Cloud remains a more appropriate solution.
• In any case, a solution has to be found in combination with a network. This is essential for the communication to customers, CMOs and the Medicine Verification Institutes.
• Network-to-Network is the future setup, irrelevant to the chosen solution. Not point-to-point because that will lead to an unmanageable and costly IT jungle.
The Own System Validation Efforts Depend Fully on the Chosen Solution:
• If a solution is found in combination with the own ERP system, the validation effort is just the same as every new implementation or large change. But the advantage of having the Serialisation solution attached to the own ERP system is that the company continues mastering its own validation roadmap and speed.
“Depending on the end markets where the company is active, Serialisation is already or soon going to be a legal requirement”
• If a solution is found in the cloud due to a scattered IT landscape and/ or business processes, the validation effort can be less, but the release calendar of the vendor has to be strictly followed. The SaaS provider will simply implement its next release and not wait for one customer that is not ready with the re-validation. QA/validation team must be able to manage this calendar.
Don’t Forget the Internal Cost:
• In order to make the business case, the vendor(s) have to submit the quotation(s). But the sum of all quotations is only part of the input of the business case.
• Depending on the chosen solution, more or less people are involved in running the serialisation process. And for the one-time set up, significant work on interfaces must be included.
Timely Engage your Customers and CMOs:
• As your own customers and CMOs are simply struggling with the same, it is highly recommended to take the lead in Serialisation and market the leadership that you show as a competitive advantage.
Prepare for Success:
• Start on time and as early as possible. There will surely be setbacks and hurdles to take. And ultimately how the solution will look like is an unknown territory.
The success of serialisation for your company is in the simplicity and practicality of applying the above stated recommendations.
Founded in 1870, DSM Sinochem Pharmaceuticals (DSP) is proficient in sustainable antibiotics, next generation statins and anti-fungals. Headquartered in Singapore, the group has operations in China, India, Egypt, the Netherlands, Spain, the US and Mexico.