INSIGHTS

Countering Counterfeit Consumer Goods Proving Authenticity with Blockchain And Material Fingerprint Technology

Published 2018-11-22

With technology at our hands from the “Internet of Things” and “Blockchain” we still struggle to tackle counterfeit goods.  In today’s digital world, materials and assets that were previously unreachable are available from countless online marketplaces. But are they genuine? 
Unless a customer purchases an item at a reputable store, they can’t guarantee it’s the real thing.  Almost anything can be cloned - an exact replica with tags and logos to match. How do we know if an item on an e-commerce site is counterfeit?  Even if it isn’t, how can we be sure it hasn’t been stolen and resold over the Internet?  This is costing the luxury consumer goods industry billions every year and law enforcement are fighting an uphill battle.  
What if the consumer herself could distinguish between an authentic item and a counterfeit item just using a mobile phone? What if honest second-hand e-commerce sites could prove that they are only selling authentic objects, and the buyer did not have to worry? What if this technology could be applied to art, bags, clothes, etc.?

An explosion of tagging and scanning technologies are available to protect and authenticate goods: QR codes, NFC & RFID chips, BLE and others.  Many rely on expensive scanning technologies or complex, new business processes.  Scanning equipment isn’t readily available outside of the production line or store and not to the consumer. Tagging and scanning don’t often traverse boundaries between corporations, reseller and consumers. The challenge is the transition between the physical and digital worlds, and making the tagging truly seamless between production, resellers, consumers, second-hand e-commerce sites etc.

United Vanning and our partners have solved this problem.  We create unique, unambiguous “fingerprints” detectable using a standard mobile camera with standard tagging technologies.  A blockchain tracks ownership and responsibility for the item as it travels through production, supply chain, warehouse, retailers, consumers, e-commerce sites and second-hand purchases.

The "fingerprints" themselves can be embedded in plastics, polymers, coatings, paint, cloth, and paper.  This solution can also tag items already in the consumer space, after authentication by a trusted party. High-value items can be tagged for insurance purposes in a way only the insurance company knows about.

For the consumer goods manufacturer, it is key to integrate the flow of information with production, inventory and supply chain systems with the blockchain. Retailers can connect to the blockchain to register the purchase.  Consumers can validate the authenticity with the blockchain using a mobile app. They can send their blockchain receipt to insurance companies who can also validate via the blockchain. Consumers could also provide the blockchain “certificate” when selling their valuables on e-commerce sites. This will give an end-to-end view of how items flow from manufacturers through the supply chain to retailers and finally to consumers, and on the second-hand market. Law enforcement can validate the last legal purchaser of an item and easily detect counterfeit goods.

United Vanning is in a unique position to provide the technology, blockchain platform and consumer mobile application in end-to-end solutions for manufacturers, retailers, e-commerce sites and insurance companies. Using the Digital Business Platform from Software AG , United Vanning connects people, devices, data and systems for process automation, API and device management, analytics visualisation for intelligent decisions and actions.

Item records mirror actual ownership, legitimate change of ownership, movement and location…

  • When a valuable item is stolen, the true registered owner can prove ownership
  • Luxury goods manufacturers can track geographically how their goods travel the world at each change of hands.
  • Tagging of items already in the consumer space after authentication by a trusted party will help counter insurance fraud and track down stolen goods
  • Police can validate the last legitimate owner of an item in real-time, and easily identify counterfeit products
  • Insurance companies can tag particularly valuable items
  • Retailers can incorporate consumer purchase registration into loyalty schemes
  • Item authentication and ownership can be validated by consumers when buying on second-hand e-commerce sites using a regular mobile phone
  • Unlock a wealth of information about your products in the second-hand market
  • Combine with IoT to surface contextual data about items throughout the supply chain at the point of reading
  • Unique identification of individual items and purchasers ensures exact fault reporting and personalised remedy processes
  • No dependency on tag readers

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Innovative Tools And Asset Tracking for Utilities

Published 2018-01-03

Moving beyond “Where’s my stuff”? 

In today’s digital world, equipment, plant, staff and vehicles that were previously unreachable are now connected.  The “Internet of Things” is driving a proliferation of infrastructure, technologies and new approaches which can be exploited for tracking and exploiting business-critical assets in the field.

Moving beyond just locating and identifying assets, drawing valuable insights from the data they provide is essential.  A data-driven, end-to-end perspective and solution is critical to transform these dispersed assets into a unified information system that will reduce costs and build better business outcomes.

An explosion of tagging and tracking technologies are available now to: track the location of staff, machinery, tools, equipment, industrial plant, or vehicle assets.   You can choose from a menu of: QR codes, NFC, RFID, BLE, iBeacon, GPS.  Tags can report on locations: as they are touched, or scanned, from a short distance, in response to passing beacons or with the regularity you specify over a variety of networks.  They can report on their movement, health and on whether the machinery they’re attached to is switched on, moving, broken etc.  But these are just point capabilities and individual pieces of information.  They need to be brought together as an integrated whole to deliver more than the sum of their parts…

United Vanning have proven experience and technology know-how in delivering solutions and real business value within a data-driven integration platform.

In partnership with Software AG, and using their Digital Business Platform, United Vanning have delivered several innovative solutions to the Utilities industries.

Tools And Asset Tracking Innovation

Bringing data together brings the fuzzy view of missing, unknown and lost assets into focus.  One utility company estimated a hire cost saving in excess of £0.5m would result from increased asset utilisation combined with better informed hire and procurement decisions. 

A solution United Vanning recently delivered provides:

It delivered benefits across the following dimensions:

Mobile

  • A field force mobile application that is mobile platform independent, securing the vital flexibility to change
  • Allows staff to self-serve with updates regarding their assets, condition information, fault reporting
  • Search the enterprise inventory for tool availability and request its assignment

User Interfaces

  • Light touch maintenance workflows that guide staff through the required tasks in a modern browser-based portal
  • Automated notifications of required activities with user task management
  • Administration screens allowing visibility and where it’s wanted control over tools transfers, maintenance, costing data

Plant and Equipment Repository

  • A managed database that is the source of truth for tools and asset data
  • Automatically updates based on changes in the field, faults / repairs, changes to staffing
  • Master data management to ensure accuracy and data alignment
  • Accurate traceability and reporting of maintenance and replacement costs

MI

  • Real-time dashboards with interactive charts and the ability to drill-down e.g. on tools and asset compliance in the field and across the estate
  • Detailed MI reports monitoring the performance of processes e.g. audits in the field and publishing data for onward consumption e.g. tools and asset health in the organisation

This with NO dependence on the purchase of tags and tag readers -  These bring additional processes for tagging and additional maintenance overheads for the readers themselves. 

Asset records mirror actual asset ownership…

  • More efficient tools and asset maintenance cycles 
  • Visualisation of available equipment on a map display search by proximity to location
  • Further innovative solution add-ons e.g. Pelipod secure unattended distribution
  • Intelligent tools and asset scheduling and utilisation reducing wear and tear
  • Targeting predictive maintenance based on analytics ratings of equipment failures
  • Automatic work order scheduling based on equipment & location requirements
  • Automated validation of engineers’ competence to use transferred tools + alarms
  • Reduced travel, vehicle loading and carbon footprint

For more information about United Vanning and how our expertise can help you, visit: www.unitedvanning.com

Software AG offers the world’s first Digital Business Platform for Utilities.  Rapidly build and deploy digital utility applications for better decisions with streaming analytics, telemetry and M2M, and respond faster to shifting regulations.  To learn more visit: www.softwareag.com

Supply Chain and Field Service Innovation for Utilities

Published 2017-05-23

Customers are expecting better and better services. The time of service technicians is becoming more and more valuable. Our roads are becoming increasingly congested. The need for safe delivery and tracking of tools and materials is essential to efficient planning and control. Leading utility companies continue to invest to address these critical considerations and realise these efficiencies.

In an ever increasingly connected world utilities expect to be able to know where all the supplies, materials and tools are at any point in time. Reducing waste in time and materials is critical, as well as reducing the impact of inefficient supply chains on the environment. United Vanning Consulting and Pelipod address all the above with their unique, innovative supply chain solution in combination with unparalleled capabilities for process execution, analysis, visualisation and integration from Software AG that will truly transform the field service operations of utilities:

  • Cut out an entire leg of the journey for field service technicians decreasing the time they spend acting as their own couriers.
  • No need to collect parcels, saving on engineer’s time and vehicle running cost
  • Eliminates the need for expensive or manned intermediate or transit delivery locations
  • Acts as a 24/7 forward stock location so reducing inventory held in engineer’s vans.
  • Supports Just In Time inventory management
  • Right First Time deliveries reduces the cost
  • Reducing mileage, CO2 emissions and pollution
  • Allows deliveries to be made at traffic-free times including the “shoulders” of the working day

Introducing Pelipod, the world’s most advanced, Internet connected, low cost unattended parcel box for utilities. With Pelipod, utilities can now create distributed point delivery networks replacing the need for locker banks or store depots. Pelipod shortens and simplifies your supply chain enabling your staff to be more productive and efficient.

Through Software AG’s Digital Business Platform utilities will be able to integrate the Pelipod portal to their back end systems with complete process execution and visibility ensuring:

  • Connecting work orders in the ERP system with deliveries
  • Real-time notifications to field service technicians
  • Display the Pelipod delivery network in their GIS systems
  • Optimise the delivery points in relations to field service work force and replacement/maintenance programs
  • Dynamic delivery network repositioning the Pelipod Boxes as requirements change
  • Integrate with HR systems to automatically control access to boxes and track who delivers and who receives
  • Audit tracking of assets and who has possession of tools and materials
  • Provides clear auditing that each engineer has the right materials at the right times to do their assigned jobs

How is all this established, what is needed and how is it implemented? Ultimately it boils down to the business case for using the Pelipod solution and Software AG’s Digital Business Platform to improved business processes: lowering the cost of field service operations, increasing customer satisfaction while reducing the impact on the environment throughout.

Invariably this means joining up the individual processes using the Digital Business Platform, connecting with the business systems such as ERP, CRM, Asset Management, Warehouse Management, Field service, Scheduling, GIS etc.  Delivering the value this gives dictates the nature of the integration and the requirements of the platform.

United Vanning Consulting helps companies characterise and capitalise on opportunities based on a structured approach

United Vanning Consulting provides the technology and integration knowhow as well as the process insight to assist from discovery through to implementation. On top of these capabilities in our engagements we give our customers access to our partner ecosystem for world leading technology, data science, predictive modelling, machine learning, device connectivity, digital platform integration and data management.

End-to-end solution implementation

For more information about United Vanning Consulting or to explore how our expertise can help you, please contact us at www.unitedvanning.com/en/contact

Software AG offers the world’s first Digital Business Platform for Utilities. Recognized as a leader by the industry’s top analyst firms, Software AG helps you combine existing systems on premises and in the cloud into a single platform to optimize your environment and delight your citizens. With Software AG, you can rapidly build and deploy digital utility applications to improve customer services delivery. Get maximum value from big data, make better decisions with streaming analytics, achieve more with telemetry and M2M, and respond faster to shifting regulations and threats with intelligent governance, risk and compliance. Visit www.softwareag.com to learn more.

Pelipod represents a complete breakthrough in the cost, convenience and functionality in the delivery of spares, samples and other products. Pelipod is a smart, connected, secure, unattended parcel box that can manage all your deliveries as well as working with your reverse logistics process. For more information please visit: www.pelipod.com

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