On Tuesday, LSPedia held its latest 2X Connect webinar, the series focused on establishing the critical data connections between trading partners required by the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA). Our CEO Riya Cao and VP of Services Rose Campasano were joined by Cardinal Health’s David Mikesell, EPCIS Support Lead.
The panelists started off by addressing the vital – and sometimes misunderstood – element of point-to-point connections. Under DSCSA, each trading partner must have an individual data connection to exchange EPCIS files with each other trading partner; so, if you have 50 partners, upstream or downstream, you have 50 separate connections. Each of these connections requires a multi-step process from initialization through testing into production status, including numerous rounds of communication. As such, a point-to-point connection can take weeks or even months, and afterward, it can be difficult to maintain.
However, this aspect is trivialized if you can leverage provider-to-provider connections instead. Rather than dealing with each connection individually, you can work through a provider that has pre-formed, tested, and working connections with other providers who then complete the connection to your trading partners. This is a core strength of LSPedia’s platform, as we’ve spent years not only working with other providers, but developing and refining our methodology to combine security and speed, all toward removing what can be a significant barrier to easy, normalized DSCSA compliance.
Using secure and encrypted AS2 technology, LSPedia’s Exchange can enable connections to be formed in a single day. Just put your solution provider in touch with LSPedia, and ask them to form a provider-to-provider connection. You’ll also need a Global Location Number (GLN) or Serialized Global Location Number (SGLN) to get started; if you don’t have one, visit GS1 at gs1us.org.
Contact email@example.com to initiate the connection process.
Another essential component of successful data exchange is exceptions management: the ability to quickly identify and correct transaction data errors (including any case of mismatch with the physical shipment as delivered). Exceptions management is rapidly becoming a core capability for supply chain operations in the pharmaceutical industry, as the shift to EPCIS and item-level traceability have, taken together, created both an enormous swell of new files being exchanged, as well as a massive increase in the complexity of those files.
Indeed, DSCSA’s Enhanced Security provisions require companies to have the ability to find exceptions and resolve them in a timely manner for items to be received into inventory. While an exception goes unresolved, the products involved must go into quarantine, unable to be moved or sold. The most common exceptions include malformed XML, chronology issues, missing master data, missing business data, duplicates, or even older versions of EPCIS. Showstopping exceptions can become costly very quickly: In addition to not having the product you were counting on, you also won’t have all the staff you were counting on, because someone has to take the time to fix troublesome errors instead of focusing on their core responsibilities. (And if their job is already to handle errors, you can free them up to delve into bigger problems and improvements.)
It's worth mentioning here that the failure rate for EPCIS files, as of October 2023, is 10.41 percent – one in ten files exchanged. More EPCIS data is being exchanged than ever before, and accordingly, there are more poor-quality files to fix than ever before. Though that may be an alarming figure, resolution times have improved sharply. This is due in no small part to LSPedia’s Investigator module, the gold standard for exceptions management. Investigator sends automatic alerts when exceptions occur, provides guided error resolution, and can quickly reload or resend updated EPCIS files.
Essentially, it’s built to give you as much of a time advantage as possible when there’s a problem – which only becomes more important when you consider that the impact of an exception only gets greater the longer it goes undetected and the further down the supply chain it moves. A product-to-data mismatch can become extremely difficult and time-consuming if it’s detected after the shipment is received. Mikesell noted that while it’s difficult for trading partners to know what problems will arise when they move from the test environment to live production, Cardinal Health was able to cut resolution times by using Investigator, characterizing it as a “force field” or a “bouncer” to keep bad data out.
Additionally, don’t underestimate the opportunity presented by Investigator. In addition to mitigating risks, the module provides accurate and timely data for demand forecasting, enabling better inventory planning and optimization. This has additional positive effects: reduced stockouts, improved inventory, and easier communication with customers and partners.
“Before Investigator, if a file failed, we wouldn't be able to scan and receive it. It’d cause confusion, a lot of back and forth. Email monitored by humans isn't as efficient as Investigator – humans may not get to your issue for days. Our old system would halt on the first error, so if you had any more, imagine how much more time it could take.” – David Mikesell, EPCIS Support Lead, Cardinal Health
Thanks to everyone who made this 2X Connect webinar a success! If you’d like to learn more about forming connections with your trading partners, write to firstname.lastname@example.org. And to learn more about the tools that support successful EPCIS data exchanges and insights, send your questions to email@example.com.