Bernd Vosseler has 20 years industry experience across R&D, operations and consulting. He currently works as Head of Project Consulting and Services at Pharmacontrol Electronic, a serialization systems and aggregation solutions provider who are part of the Mettler Toledo Group.
How did you get started in manufacturing & supply chain?
My Company is providing track and trace solutions, initially and mainly for the pharmaceutical industry, but also entering into other industries. What brought me there was my experience in R&D for a brand protection, and an education as a Six Sigma black-belt.
You are Head of Project Consulting and Services at Pharmacontrol Electronic. What is your focus there and what interesting projects have you been involved with recently?
My Team is providing consulting, Training and GMP compliant Project documentation. While Track & Trace is established in the pharmaceutical industry due to legal regulations, we now see many exciting projects of customers in non regulated industries, who understand the benefits they can gather from this technology.
What impact has Covid had on your operations?
Moving from office to home office was easy. All travel stopped immediately, of course, but we were able to perform our consulting workshops as remote meetings. The most challenging part was transforming our trainings into a remote format. We have set up an e-classroom, trying to replace all the hands-on part and the face-to-face interaction by video and screen sharing as good as possible.
You are an expert in traceability systems such as GS1 standards. What trends around traceability do you see coming in the next few years?
Where governments don’t drive Track & Trace via regulation, brand owners do by their own interest. Main motivations are avoiding counterfeits, tampering and grey trade. Another trend we see slowly evolving is supply chain performance management: starting with simple visualisation of goods movements, to predicting stock levels and alerting if they become critical, to simulating different logistics strategies and their robustness towards external impact like disasters.
What trends do you see emerging in manufacturing & supply chain in the coming years?
A prominent one I see is “surgical” product recalls – imagine you fill a million cans of baked beans every day, and you notice that last week there were 5 minutes, when sealing didn’t properly work, so your product will degrade. You know the serial numbers of the 5000 cans produced during that time. You can track the 20 supermarkets they have been shipped to, you can take the affected, serialized shipper cartons of the shelf, and where they have been opened, the single cans that were inside them. And by scanning each of them, you have evidence that they have all been put out of the market. Thus you can focus on removing exactly the right few cans from the right few stores, rather than having to recall a week’s production or so.
Supply chain has been undergoing a digital transformation in recent years. What areas do you see as having fully embraced this change and which lagging behind?
I see no area that is not in transformation – nobody is “done” yet, but it looks like the pharma, electronics, FSMP (Foods for Special medical Purpose) and tobacco industries are rather ahead than behind.
What unsolved operational or business problems do you perceive in the industry?
Anti-Counterfeiting still being a main driver for traceability, I see that involving the consumer in using a Track & Trace app for authenticating a product would be extremely effective. At the same time, brands are extremely hesitant of warning their customers about counterfeits – they fear that insecure customers would just move to brands who don’t scare them with that risk. And retail isn’t interested either in involving consumers, because consumer authentication strengthens trust in the brand, not in the channel. This is the big obstacle for taking consumers on board.