Above and Beyond Product Security

April 30, 2019

Above and Beyond Product Security

Why an ERP Solution Alone Isn’t Enough

By Jim Huysentruyt

In the modern manufacturing environment, an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system is a must-have in order to successfully scale and optimize operations. As a business process tool built to empower organizations with integrated applications to automate and manage their operational processes, the ERP plays a central role in organizational back office functions—ranging from technology, to services, to human resources, and more.

In short, the ERP has long been the bread-and-butter business software supporting most manufacturing operations. And yet, despite the ERP’s pervasiveness, reports show that less than half of companies are satisfied with their ERP implementation. The fact remains that while ERPs are necessary systems for complex organizations, they are not the only system required to thrive in today’s modern manufacturing reality. It is therefore important to understand what an ERP is designed to do, and what it is not.

Let’s take a closer look at the driving and at times conflicting, forces between ERP implementations. When asked why an organization implemented an ERP system, top responses were to improve business performance (64%), to position the company for success (57%), and to reduce working capital (57%). Such responses make sense as ERPs are designed to support these kinds of broad objectives. Things get trickier, however, when organizations require more focused functionality like universal supply chain traceability and product security, for example.

For organizations with specialized requirements for product security and transparency, an ERP system alone has several shortcomings, including:

A Jack of All Trades, Master of None

ERP systems are designed to boil the ocean, integrating financial, supply chain, manufacturing, and HR functions. While baseline traceability may be included, ERPs do not have the dedicated focus on product security required in today’s advanced regulatory and threat landscape. For organizations operating in highly-regulated sectors or industries prone to sweeping and costly recalls, an ERP system alone simply does not provide the comprehensive product-level insight necessary to uphold standards for safety and compliance and streamline recall resolution. Rather, such organizations require an additional layer that augments the existing ERP system with the advanced traceability technology they require.

Security is an Afterthought

Security is among the top concerns cited regarding ERP adoption. Still, most ERP systems rely on single authentication for users and operators across business functions. With the lion’s share of product diversions coming from inside the factory, true product security requires more. Conversely, a Blockchain-enabled database creates a single, incorruptible record of activity inside the factory and across the entire supply chain. This allows organizations to isolate intentional and inadvertent product compromises to the exact time, location, and login—empowering rapid and targeted resolution before single points of compromise become lasting patterns with destructive consequences.

Lives Inside Enterprise Walls

While the ERP may touch every part of the enterprise, it seldom thrives outside factory doors. On the other hand, true product security requires complete, consistent traceability from raw material through the last mile of the supply chain—into the hands of the consumer. For organizations that require product-level traceability by every stakeholder in the supply chain, it’s vital to augment the ERP with a product security solution that can serialize raw materials, products, and batches at every stage of production, then store highly-detailed insights for easy access down the line.

Limited to the Digital Dimension

The ERP operates via a Cloud, SaaS, or on-premise network model. Such is also true of product security technology. However, in addition to the core technology, a true product security solution encompasses tamper-proof tags and labels, which are affixed to each component and product in circulation. These identifiers prevent tampering through a combination of covert, overt, and forensic security features that are nearly impossible to replicate by counterfeiters, preserving brand integrity no matter how vast or complex the supply chain.

Enhancing ERP with Product Security Technology

For organizations with robust product security requirements, the key to maximizing an ERP investment is enhancing it with specialized product traceability technology that is purpose-built for the highest levels of security, scalability, and insight. At Ashton Potter, our ProLinc™ SaaS-based technology solution is designed to seamlessly augment and extend existing ERP solutions—introducing vital track and trace capabilities without adding any additional operational burdens to the organization. Furthermore, ProLinc works seamlessly with our high security printing capabilities, which provide serialized, tamper-proof security labels at the component, product, and batch level to secure every product in your supply chain.

Our product security solution extends existing business intelligence tools to contextualize product insights with other sources of data to make insights actionable. Ultimately, ProLinc integrates seamlessly into a facility’s ERP, streamlining implementation and optimizing operational processes to accelerate time to ROI.

Is your ERP system only winning half the battle? Discover how Ashton Potter can fill in the product security gaps.