Product Security Spotlight | Insight

October 12, 2018

Product Security Spotlight | Insight

By Kelly Smith

In this blog series, we’ll cover four key tenets of total product security and traceability. This week, we’ll be focusing on insight.

In 2012, the Borgata Hotel Casino in Atlantic City lost $9.6 million due to a manufacturing defect in playing cards. In 2018, a class action suit against Remington for a defective trigger linked to dozens of deaths and hundreds of serious injuries required Remington to replace the defective triggers of up to 7.5 million firearms for free. More recently, an outbreak of E. coli led to a widespread recall of romaine lettuce, an event that made headlines and sent shockwaves through consumer confidence.

These examples, and the thousands of similar cases that occur each year, underscore the importance of upholding product integrity at every stage of the manufacturing process—and the dire consequences when a compromise occurs. Yet, upholding product integrity is no small feat. It requires a systematic framework for accessing the highly detailed data necessary to understand the entire product lifecycle for every component, product, and batch in circulation. In some cases, data insights into the product lifecycle make prevention possible. In others, they significantly mitigate the cost and complexity of a recall. In all cases, however, they are critical to brands simultaneously protecting consumers and profitability.

Let’s take a closer look.

Component-Level Insight

A consumer good isn’t simply one item; rather, it is the sum of a myriad of individual components. As manufacturing complexity continues to rise, the everyday products we use include more numerous and sophisticated subcomponents than ever. In fact, even an early generation iPhone included 34 individual component parts, sourced from eight countries on three continents. This number has continued to increase in more recent iPhone generations.

For the manufacturer, component complexity introduces new complexity to the product integrity equation. In order to assure the quality and integrity of their end goods, today’s manufacturers must extend traceability to each of their subcontractors and the subcomponents they produce. If traceability begins only once a good is complete, it is missing an essential part of the product security equation.

Product-Level Insight

Once a product’s components are each verified, the product security challenge isn’t over. Today’s products make their way through an increasingly global and complex supply chain, reaching end users all over the world. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to make sure each good that leaves the factory is authentic. In fact, compromise often occurs outside the factory itself, in the form of falsified goods or credible counterfeits. A 2015 Industry Today report on the global counterfeiting market cited a pandemic affecting multiple sectors, from faulty designer goods to online pharmaceuticals. In fact, the report estimated up to one third of online pharmaceuticals are counterfeits, impacting up to one million consumers each year.

In today’s advanced threat landscape, protecting product integrity requires manufacturers to circumvent attempts to falsify goods and pass off counterfeits as bona fide products. Combatting such efforts requires manufacturers to be able to identify and verify the authenticity of goods beyond the factory, and to make this validation irreplicable amongst faulty goods. In summary, two keys to product-level insight are integrity, using physical labels that cannot be compromised, and longevity, tracing the product wherever it is, for as long as it is in circulation.

Manufacturers can allow end users and resellers to verify authenticity themselves by empowering them to scan products and serve up a detailed genealogy in real time. Such efforts not only assure customers of product integrity, but also enable manufacturers to pinpoint gray market diversion points when authentic products are scanned in unapproved venues.

In today’s advanced threat landscape,

protecting product integrity requires manufacturers to circumvent attempts to falsify goods

and pass off counterfeits as bona fide products.

Batch-Level Insight

A recall is a manufacturer’s worst nightmare. However, in the event that one occurs, minimizing the degradation to brand image and revenue requires manufacturers to be able to rapidly and precisely isolate every product affected—no matter where it is, or when it was originally produced.

As a result, insight must extend to the batch-level. By assigning unique labels to production batches and storing this information in perpetuity in a Blockchain-enabled database, manufacturers can quickly isolate and resolve recalls in the unfortunate event of their occurrence. Better still, batch-level tracking can allow manufacturers to identify products that fail to meet parameters on the factory floor, so they can be systematically eliminated before they reach the market.

ProLinc: A Single Scan, a World of Insights

The detail and validity of insights is only one part of the equation, however. In addition, it is of paramount importance that key stakeholders in the value chain be able to securely access product-related insights on-demand. Data access is a critical prerequisite to taking the kind of proactive, targeted actions required to protect product integrity in today’s threat landscape.

At Ashton Potter, we are upholding product integrity across all levels of production through ProLinc, a data-driven solution for complete product security. ProLinc assigns individualized identities to every component, product, and batch throughout your factory and beyond, storing a highly detailed record of each in its Blockchain-enabled database. It’s an advanced solution, suited for the needs of today’s most integrity-conscious manufacturers.

Ready to place product integrity at the forefront of your operation? Contact Ashton Potter today to discover how ProLinc can integrate seamlessly into your existing manufacturing environment, and stay tuned for the next post in our Product Security Spotlight, which will focus on security.

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