Simulating the Serialized Chain

GS1 Healthcare US is helping companies prepare for serialization with the 2015 Readiness Program. Using simulation software in the program, participants model a serialized production environment that sheds insights on real-world implementation issues.

Reference models agreed upon by participants will provide insights on benefits derived from a fully implemented supply chain and help resolve major issues prior to implementation with trading partners, GS1 US says.

The first phase of the program---Basics Forward Logistics---was wrapping up this month. Additional consecutive three-month-long phases will cover Additional Forward Logistics on drop shipments, repackaging and kitting, Reverse Logistics, and Exception Processing.

Upon completion of a phase, participants receive the reference model, along with key learnings derived from the exercise. The models can be related to companies' own processes as they implement coding and prepare to test their systems with trading partners, says Bob Celeste, director, healthcare, GS1 US.

Interested parties can contact Celeste at

“The simulation shows how serialized product and information flows through the supply chain. A company can see how many discrete decisions have to be made in order to put this in place in real life,” Celeste says.

“Companies can also see how policy decisions will affect operations long before making expensive process and documentation changes. This will inform brand protection and regulatory compliance decisions as well as determine the benefit of new trading partner agreements made possible by serialized visibility information,” Celeste says.

“We came up with a model that everyone is happy with. It may not conform exactly to how a company would implement [their program], but it can be related to their own system,” he adds.

The software models the business steps initiated, products' movement and disposition at each point in time, and the EPCIS event that occurred with the transaction. Realistic processing times are also modeled.

A user can freeze time and click on an item or process to see the EPCIS XML that was executed for each event. “You can view the process as a whole, or drill in to see what occurred at any given point. So, we are not only showing product and information movement, but [also] formatting that into the standard EPCIS XML. If you can get your (real-life solution) to produce that XML, you are in good shape,” Celeste says.

Participants get a run-time version of the model with a database that holds all the EPCIS events generated.

In the Basics Forward Logistics phase, the product becomes traceable in the simulation after the package is labeled with a unique ID. It is traced to an inventory area where the packs are aggregated before going into a case, then through to pallet packaging.

“In later simulations, we will be including API manufacturers, contract packagers, and contract manufacturers,” Celeste says.
The model developed for Basics Forward Logistics includes certain prescribed steps in product handling. For example, a process was established for addressing California's law that says product can't be received unless it is serialized and with a pedigree.
“The receiving area might be out on the dock, or elsewhere. We included a staging or prereceiving area [that draws] a clear line between the staging area and the receiving area. As an example, an item in the staging area for more than an hour needs to go into an undocumented quarantine area where it is treated differently from items going into stock,” Celeste says.

Quarantine areas are also figured in at various points, such as for handling exceptions.

“We are finding out all the ways that things can go wrong. There are 30 different basic exceptions that can occur, and thousands of variations on those, that would be very expensive to work through in an actual pilot or implementation.

“The exceptions are really dead ends. We are trying to formulate a way to resolve them via business-to-business electronic means,” Celeste says.

This article was included in the April 8 issue of PMP News's ePackage Newsletter. To sign up for future e-newsletters, click here.

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