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Pharmaceutical Manufacturing and Packing Sourcer

New Dimensions in Supply Chain Security

Until RFID becomes cheaper and easier to implement, 2D barcodes are an often-overlooked solution. Dan Bodnar at Intermec compares the options

The ability to track and trace pharmaceutical products throughout their entire lifecycle is becoming more and more essential. This has, of course, always been important for preventing mistakes such as dispensing the wrong medication or products that are past their expiry date. However, in today’s world of counterfeit medications sold over the black market, theft of medications for sale or use as narcotics, and increasing regulations to prevent these things from happening, tracking and tracing has become paramount; and it is becoming evermore important that this can be carried out quickly and efficiently.

Many people in the supply chain industry believe that radio frequency identification (RFID) is moving closer by the day to replacing barcodes as the main method of data capture, especially where high value goods such as pharmaceuticals are involved. While this assumption does have some validity, the reality is that it will be a long time before barcodes are extinct, and RFID implementation, while progressing, is still going to take a long time before it is pervasive throughout everyday life. There is an intermediary product though, which can do much more than linear barcodes, while taking radically less time and money to implement and maintain than RFID – 2D barcodes.

The barcode was originally conceived in the US to facilitate the identification of products in the supermarket and railroad industries by eliminating manual key entry. Barcodes consist of a series of alternating bars and spaces printed or stamped on parts, containers, labels or other media, representing encoded information that can be read by electronic readers for accurate data input to computer systems. One of the advantages of using barcodes over normal language characters is that they can be easily scanned and read by a computer, whereas characters cannot.


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Dan Bodnar is Director of Product Marketing for Intermec’s RFID and Data Capture Products, where he is responsible for product strategy for data collection technologies and products. Prior to his 10-year tenure with Intermec, he held various marketing, business development and engineering positions with General Electric, Tektronix and Esterline Technologies. Dan has specific experience with factory automation, industrial power distribution equipment, electronic test and measurement equipment, and OEM components for the industrial manufacturing, heathcare and aerospace industries. Dan holds several US patents related to RFID technology, a MBA from the University of Washington and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Washington State University.
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