What Is Serialization, and How Does It Relate to Track and Trace?

  • by Tim Craigmyle, Senior Managing Consultant, IBM Global Business Services
  • May 8, 2013
Serialization and track and trace are hot topics in the supply chain landscape today, but few industries are affected as deeply or as imminently as the pharmaceutical industry. See what serialization and trace and trace are, how to apply them in pharmaceutical operations, and what solutions SAP offers in support of serialization and track and trace.
Key Concept

Serialization is a process used to identify a particular unit or example of a material, whether it is a single bottle of a prescription pharmaceutical or a case of bottles. It usually refers to the smallest saleable unit of a material. Track and trace refers to the ability to track the physical movement and location of a specific material, using that serialization of material to provide visibility at a granular level.

Serialization of materials has long been a part of many industries. It is used to identify components, finished goods, returnable containers, and repair parts. While serialization is not required for track and trace functionality, it enables a significant benefit in terms of accuracy and ability to identify a specific item. This is critical in drug safety and also adds efficiency in the returns process.

Although I focus on serialization in the pharmaceutical industry, which is the subject of new regulation and compliance directives in the global marketplace, other industries also rely on serialization. They include the medical device industry, which is closely related, aerospace and defense, automotive, and high tech, all of which benefit from the ability to track a single component, whether it is a fan blade in a jet engine or a prosthetic hip replacement.

Tim Craigmyle

Tim Craigmyle has been involved in supply chain systems for more than 15 years. He is serving as a senior managing consultant for IBM Global Business Services, an externally focused role assisting clients that are initiating supply chain improvements primarily in distribution and warehousing solutions to help solve their business challenges, focusing on the SAP Eco-system.

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