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RFID technology improves supply chain transparency

Gain real-time visibility over distribution processes to optimise customer service, improve product security and asset tracking, and enhance response to unprecedented threats

Murata ID Solutions has helped life science giant Bayer’s Italian division, Bayer S.p.A., leverage radio frequency identification (RFID) tracking in the first large-scale application of the technology in the pharmaceutical supply chain. 

The project has enabled Bayer to gain real-time visibility over its distribution processes to optimise customer service, improve product security and asset tracking, and enhance response to unprecedented threats. 

“Integrity is vital in the pharmaceutical sector, and Bayer wanted to ensure that the same level of transparency extends from its state-of-the-art manufacturing processes to the whole supply chain,” said Francesco Fantoni Guerci, CEO of Murata ID Solutions. “RFID technology presented an ideal solution to the problem, as it enables the cost-efficient tracking of large volumes of products and assets with very high accuracy. As we provide all the technology needed, we were able to deliver the project as a turnkey solution in a very quick timeframe.”

Murata ID Solutions’ system consists of four parts: consultancy, RFID labels, RFID readers and stations, and id-Bridge Middleware and Dashboard needed to collect the RFID data and turn it into actionable insight. The project commenced in late 2019, and it was fully operational by spring 2020.

The benefits of the new level of visibility were evident immediately: Bayer now tracks both products and the sustainable GreenPallets used to transport them. Previously, the company received a daily report on which shipments had left the Logistics Service Provider’s (LSP) warehouses and which had been received by customers. They could not track these deliveries in real time nor did they have visibility of the shipments’ transit in transportation hubs and subsidiaries. 

The RFID technology has enabled the company to operate in a more proactive way. 

Each box of products and every GreenPallet is RFID-scanned up to 15 times in all distribution partners’ warehouses, hubs and subsidiaries throughout the distribution process, providing real-time visibility of every stage in the supply chain.

The data is immediately visible on the id-Bridge dashboard, which turns it into an actionable insight such as an alert so that Bayer can address any issues immediately. In addition to enabling quick action, the data is used to monitor performance, track KPIs, and guide response to customer queries.

Due to the results of the initial feasibility study, Bayer’s Logistic and Transportation partners agreed to invest in the system. They recognised how it would improve their operations by enabling more accurate tracking and management, and easy reporting and handover between the various stages of the delivery process.

Commenting on the success of the pioneering project, Michele Palumbo, Head of Supply Chain Management Italy, Bayer S.p.A., said: “When Murata suggested a solution based on RFID technology, we embraced it as a natural extension of our ongoing digital initiatives. We now have the visibility we need to optimise our distribution processes and drive performance. What’s more, having seen the value Murata’s RFID technology added to our operations during the recent pandemic, we know that our supply chain has the resilience and flexibility needed to mitigate any risks arising from unprecedented events.”

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