Special Edition: Track & Trace

Digitalization and serialization gaining momentum - Kezzler

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Kezzler and SGS are to jointly market technology that can authenticate, track and trace products and engage with consumers.

Kezzler said its technology gives each product a unique code which is generated using an algorithm that provides military grade encryption. It enables brands to give products their own unique digital DNA.

Hold-ups and inefficiencies can be recorded, including the time products spend in warehouse and transit.

The agreement will co-market serialization, tracking and tracing services for SGS customers in fast moving consumer goods, food and food safety, pharmaceuticals, as well as alcohol and other beverages.

“Together with Kezzler we will provide services that are fully compliant with regulatory requirements on supply chains’ control, respond to industry demands and satisfy consumer needs,” said Roger Kamgaing, EVP for Governments and Institutions at SGS.

Transparency at an item level

Thomas Körmendi, CEO of Kezzler, said digitalization of products is gaining tremendous momentum.

“What Kezzler’s technology does is enable companies to provide transparency at an item level because it gives each product a unique and interactive digital code. The ability to do this through mass scale serialization is a game-changer for the food industry where transparency and granularity is essential,” he told us.

“It was specifically designed to avoid the problems that database systems have in maintaining speed when working at high volumes.

“During the GFSI we had some conversations and it was apparent there was an opportunity in food safety for serialization and digitalization of packaging. Our partners think it is coming.”

He added the hope was to have the first product from the partnership on the market ‘soon’.

Körmendi said similar work includes the SmartLabel in the US which was initiated by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and Food Marketing Institute (FMI) with GS1.

Consumers can get additional details by scanning a barcode or doing an online search to reach a landing page with information including nutritional information, ingredients, allergens, third-party certifications, usage instructions and company/brand information.

It is used by firms such as ConAgra Foods, Campbell Soup Company, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Nestle, Hershey, J.M. Smucker Company, Kellogg Company, General Mills and McCormick & Company.

Körmendi said some pharmaceutical products in Europe must be serialized by 2019 and in the US manufacturers have until November 2017.

“The belief is regulation such as this is to come in food but to what extent we don’t know and it would take a while for every food product to be serialized.

“Traceability and transparency advantages include managing recalls to limit them and not waste food as well as communicating accurate information quickly to consumers.

“[For non-packed products] I could imagine in supermarkets where you weigh loose items and get a sticker we could do something there but the driver is the packaging industry and pre-packed food.”

Kezzler can generate one billion unique and randomized codes that can be used with multiple standard data carriers every 46 seconds. Code generation and verification happens in milliseconds.

Sector opportunities

Körmendi said there are opportunities across multiple sectors.

Where SGS customers want to adopt serialization and track and trace then they can now have the confidence that Kezzler’s technology will enable them to implement a system that is fully compliant with regulatory requirements on supply chain control,” he said.

“This technology can help brands protect and authenticate their offering, while at the same time assisting regulators and authorities to fight illegal trade and non-compliance.

“Given the multi-functional nature of these codes the opportunity exists for brands to also take this beyond track and trace and product authentication to use the same code to fulfill market research and consumer engagement functions at the same time.

“There are other track and trace technologies, but not inexpensive and easy to use solutions that can handle mass volumes. Due to our encrypted algorithm, we are the only one that can handle billions of products and communicate with brands and consumer in real time.”

Körmendi gave an example of a beverage company when asked how it would work.

“Through digital mass encryption they can identify in real-time when shipments go astray or are over-exposed to conditions such as heat that may compromise the quality or safety of the product,” he said.

“When problems with a product are identified the company can scan items to trace back to the point of failure and identify products from the exact batch to recall them, minimising the recall. Through the same code, consumers can authenticate the products before purchase by scanning the code using a smartphone.”

Kezzler offers brands the option to pre-serialise products through partnerships with packaging firms such as Amcor.

The firms have developed a joint pre-serialization product, MaXQ, whereby a unique code integrated into the packaging is activated at a later stage via the cloud.

MaXQ is available across Amcor’s flexible and rigid plastic packaging and builds on ‘static’ QR codes.

This means there is no additional time needed during the production phase and serialization can take place without slowing down operations.

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