Ron Volpe
Senior Vice President International Markets
PSQR
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View from the Top

Governmental Regulations Required to Strengthen Traceability

By Miriam Bello | Mon, 04/25/2022 - 15:54

Q: How has PSQR evolved into what it is today?

A: We are a global GS1/EPCIS standard-based traceability software company based in Copenhagen, Denmark. We originally began working focusing on tobacco as part of the EU’s Tobacco Products Directive (TPD), which requires tobacco manufacturers to track their products at the sale unit level, from the factory to the consumer. At the time, PSQR was part of a company called FractureCode, which specializes in serialization, aggregation and machine integration. Four years ago, FractureCode's software division was spun off as PSQR. During the past four years, we have expanded PSQR’s reach outside of the EU and outside of the tobacco industry, while continuing to handle 50 percent of the tobacco market in the EU. Beyond tobacco, we also work in the industries of food and beverages, pharmaceuticals, healthcare/hospitals and apparel/textiles, among others.

Q: What are the main differences among the services that you offer? 

A: SAGA is our flagship product, enabling our customers to track any product at any level of granularity based on the digital capture of key event data across the value chain. At its core, SAGA is a Supply Chain Event repository that is able to handle mass amounts of data, at very high speeds in very complex settings and presently handles over 25 billion items annually. SAGA solutions are completely customizable based on a unique build, following the requirements of each particular customer and their relevant supply chain.

Our product EPCIS (Electronic Product Code Information Services) is key enabling trading partners to share information about the physical movement and status of products as they travel throughout the supply chain, from business to business and ultimately to consumers. It helps answer the “what, where, when and why” questions to meet operational, consumer and regulatory demands for accurate and detailed product information. A key advantage of EPCIS is that it allows diverse applications to create and share visibility event data, both within and across enterprises, something blockchain-based solutions often struggle to do.

Inveni is a tailored solution for the EU tobacco industry based on the parameters set by its governmental bodies. Our experience in tobacco, in the EU and globally, is extensive and transferable to any tobacco business globally.

For seafood, we are building a solution based on Global Dialogue on Seafood Traceability (GDST) standards, which include a critical tracking event (CTE) and a key data element (KDE). GDST follows six large CTEs within that supply chain and between 10 to 20 KDEs for each CTE.

Q: What does your SagaScan App offer to customers?

A: SagaScan is an easily downloadable and customizable app for scanning and capturing supply chain data with handheld devices. It is used as a product, event or code scanner and works seamlessly with PSQR's SAGA repository and supporting modules.

Q: Are PSQR’s modules complementary or independent?

A: PSQR Modules are often inspired by a specific client, industry need or fulfill a specific technical function to optimize track and trace processes. They are readily available, generic and can be applied across industries. For example, SAGA MESH enables companies to track and share data up and down a network of supply chains, VILA (Virtual Item Level Aggregation) allows for products and events to be tracked through digital twins and CRPT enables companies to comply, connect and exchange data with the Russian chestny znak system. This module is in full compliance with all international and local regulations in place due to the Ukrainian crisis.

Q: What are your plans within the Mexican market?

A: Mexico is a significant target market for us. It is clear that industry, consumers, and the government in Mexico would like to see greater supply chain transparency. Bananas, pharmaceuticals, cattle, hospitals and seafood, are all projects we have underway in Mexico.

With respect to seafood, we think Mexico presents an amazing opportunity in both aquaculture and wild caught seafood. In terms of aquaculture, we recently announced a partnership with a company called Sea Warden based in Los Angeles that is using satellite technology to capture information about shrimp farms. In turn, this information is plugged into a broader end-to-end solution using SAGA.

In terms of wild caught, we are deploying in April a solution for a seafood company in Iceland that is supplying seafood into Asia and the EU. In terms of seafood, we utilize the GDST (Global Dialogue on Seafood Traceability) standards. We are actively looking for seafood companies in Mexico to speak with.

Q: How can traceability add value to the health sector?

A: Globally, the proliferation of falsified medications is very significant and can only be solved through serialized, end-to-end traceability. While Africa has the direst situation with an estimated 70 percent of medications considered to be fake, the Americas is second in prevalence of falsified medications. Lack of regulation restricts traceability and affects society. An analysis by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine for the WHO estimates that over 122,000 children under the age of five died each year because of sub-standard anti-malarial drugs in sub-Saharan Africa.

Pharmaceutical companies, in the absence of comprehensive legislation, perform the traceability that they feel is necessary but they do not do it consistently. To revert this, the US is expected to pass the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) legislation in the next couple of years, which will change the game. The EU has passed similar legislation.

Illicit medical devices and even medical supplies abound as well. The right answer in healthcare in the long run is an integrated approach that includes medicines, medical devices and medical supplies, and one that goes from manufacturer to the patient. PSQR is working on this vision in both the EU and the US presently.

Q: What is the future of the traceability industry?

A: Traceability is hot. Consumers overwhelmingly want to know the provenance of their goods, where it was made, how it was made and how it got to them. Companies see the value of traceability as a technology that provides them with the information they need to run their supply chains effectively. Governments are feeling pressure to enact legislation that protects the health and safety of their citizens and fulfills their social contract. We can expect to see more and more legislation and regulations in this regard and other industries.

Traceability also relates to interoperability. This is one of the biggest challenges to any traceability network, one that GS1’s EPCIS 1.0 and EPCIS 2.0 aims to solve, and it is the reason PSQR is built on this standard. Common languages are critical to ensure that full traceability is possible.

The traceability industry has been consolidating over the past 12 months. Mergers, acquisitions, partnerships, plug-ins or ecosystems of complementary technologies are forming at a greater pace than at any time in the traceability industry’s history.

PSQR is excited to work with Mexican companies to deliver on the promise of traceability.

 

PSQR, headquartered in Denmark, specializes in scalable track and trace software development.

Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Senior Journalist and Industry Analyst