Evaluation of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology as a tracking instrument in the supply chain of pharmaceutical products with a case study at ZLB Behring GmbH

Fischer, Thorsten (2005) Evaluation of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology as a tracking instrument in the supply chain of pharmaceutical products with a case study at ZLB Behring GmbH. [Dissertation (University of Nottingham only)] (Unpublished)

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Abstract

The pharmaceutical industry is commonly referenced as one of the first adopters using RFID technology in a large scale to gain operational efficiencies in the supply chain and to protect its products against counterfeiting. It seems that the initial hype around RFID has moved from the retail sector (e.g. Wal-Mart) to the pharmaceutical and health care industry.

The dissertation investigated whether RFID will revolutionize the world of drug manufacturers or whether these are over-hyped propagated technology initiatives failing its expectations. A qualitative research is performed to assess the potential of RFID technology in the pharmaceutical industry.

To provide an instant industry perspective a survey research was performed to explore the adoption status and perceptions towards RFID among pharmaceutical manufacturers. The survey showed that current activities of drug manufacturers are low, many barriers for using RFID today are seen and drug manufacturers have problems to identify the suggested strong business case. In addition, RFID technology is likely to see a coexistence with barcode as counterfeiting measure and the suggested item-level tagging is expected to be achieved earliest by the end of 2010 in partial rollouts. Penetration and speed of adoption within the pharmaceutical industry is much lower than stated by earlier research.

A detailed case study at ZLB Behring GmbH investigated the challenges and complexities of a specific company to assess RFID technology for its business environment. First, low-cost semi-passive RF-enabled logger systems were assessed to provide a good opportunity for a new end-to-end cool chain management strategy. A major challenge was identified in supply chain stakeholders' collaboration capabilities. Second, contrasting RFID and barcode based concepts for semi-finished product authentication, showed that the adoption of RFID technology on item-level is unlikely today and will be challenged by low ongoing costs and the technological maturity of barcode based solutions. None of the two potential RFID applications for the two business problems could show technological maturity. From the observations within the six week internship was drawn that beyond compliance, it is unlikely that the company will adopt RFID technology in its infancy on its products but probably monitors further developments carefully to be prepared for a mandatory tagging of its products shipped to the U.S.A.

The executed research provided a contrasting picture towards the common understanding that 'the oldest new technology'would revolutionize the world of the pharmaceutical industry. Before RFID technology will see prime time at drug manufacturers, solutions will be challenged by questions of technological maturity, privacy issues, global standardisation and harmonisation, benefits and companies' capability of collaboration between stakeholders of such systems.

Item Type: Dissertation (University of Nottingham only)
Keywords: Radio Frequency Identification, RFID, pharmaceutical industry, drug manufacturers, supply chain, track and trace, counterfeiting, supply chain security, warehouse management, inventory management, manufacturing, clinical trials management, perceptions, adoption, survey research, case study, cool chain management, product authentication, technological maturity, privacy issues, global standardisation and harmonisation, benefits, collaboration
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 06 Jan 2006
Last Modified: 24 Oct 2016 01:40
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/20059

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