Companies are always under pressure to ensure products arrive to the end consumer in the same state they left the manufacturer. In some industries, such as food, healthcare or chemicals, this is more than a nice to have, however.
Supply chain operators are expected to adhere to regulatory requirements to ensure standards are maintained during transit. Despite this importance though, many operators say it’s a struggle to remain compliant.
According to a survey by packaging company Labelmaster, 51% of those shipping and handling dangerous or hazardous goods say they find it a challenge to keep up to date with the latest regulations.
In addition, 72% of professionals handling these goods wished supply chain partners were as compliant as their company – which suggests there are concerns around third-party involvement.
As global supply chains are broad and complicated in their nature, with a multitude of third-parties, it’s easy to understand why staying on top of compliance can be difficult for some operators. This isn’t helped by the fact that opinions on what constitutes best practice for storing and handling goods, can vary from region to region.
External factors can also force alterations on a local, national or international basis, and will impact how companies trade across borders. In some cases, immediate adjustments might need to be made.
Take, for example, the new EU regulation which is coming into play in the pharmaceuticals industry. The Falsified Medicines Directive intends to ensure authenticity and traceability of individual medicines in the supply chain through stricter serialisation rules.
In this case, failure to adhere to new policies would result in an inability to trade, as a missing serialisation code could prevent products from being traced. In other cases, compliance-related errors could lead to fines, carrier delays and even damage to products.
Undoubtedly, maintaining compliance across a global landscape will always be a challenge. There are, however, steps organisations can take to ensure they are building strong compliance processes. These will enable any suppliers or third-parties to continue working within the regulations, no matter the extent of the change.
1) Better document management
Simplifying supply chain management involves effective administration. This provides organisations with the ability to respond quickly to any regulatory demands.
Food distributors, for example, will need a long list of certificates, licenses and contracts from their suppliers to confirm compliance. With an easily accessible database to manage this documentation, organisations can be confident that their partners have all boxes ticked – regardless of an individual country’s requirements.
2 2) Greater transparency
It’s essential that organisations are able to find out where products are sourced from, and if anything has happened to them while in transit. If, for example, a batch of medicine has been damaged or even tampered with, we need to be aware of this and be able to respond.
Using a track and trace system provides greater oversight whilst goods make their way through various phases of the supply chain. It also enables communication across all levels – from the supplier of raw materials to the distributor of the end products. So, if there is an issue, this can be spotted ahead of time.
As much as these solutions offer organisations an advantage, they are only part of the answer. Remaining compliant also involves keeping up to date with global situations and understanding the impact these might have on a supply chain.
The easiest way to ensure this is by working with reliable supply chain partners, who have extensive knowledge and experience in handling compliance issues