In Europe, General Motors sells its vehicles in more than 40 markets. The company’s European automotive brands are Cadillac, Corvette, Saab, HUMMER, Opel, Vauxhall, and Chevrolet.
GM Europe (GME) has a global network of thousands of suppliers that produce and distribute auto aftermarket parts to service its European product lines. GME’s suppliers funnel spare parts to distribution centres and warehouses before reaching dealers and shops for sales and service.
Charles Mann, Brand Protection Manager at GM Europe, heads a joint project team to secure the European supply chain against counterfeits. The team includes members from Logistics, Operations, and Brand Protection, and is responsible for coverage across Central, Eastern, and Western Europe.
The goal of GME’s brand protection program is to authenticate an annual volume of 100 million parts coming from GME’s vast supplier network as “Genuine GM Parts”. A solution is required that would enable field operators, dealers, servicing agents, investigators, and enforcement officials to quickly and easily spot genuine parts from fake ones.
GM Europe began working with OpSec Security to launch a brand protection program to cover its parts in the auto-aftermarket. GME wanted to take proactive measures to prevent counterfeits from infiltrating its supply chain. Additionally, GME wanted greater visibility into its parts shipments across its supplier network.
OpSec designed a solution to meet three key requirements – parts identification, anti-counterfeiting, and order tracking.
OpSec developed a security label that consolidated variable GM parts data with anti-counterfeiting technology and serialization for itemized tracking. The novel solution design met the three-fold requirements in a single label construction. As a result, the label was easy to integrate into the supply chain process.
Suppliers are required to apply the security label on all parts shipments. The quantities of labels ordered are checked against the shipment of parts that each supplier is contracted to manufacture.
A customized ordering system records the sequential numbering on each label and tracks information about the supplier, part, origin, and destination. The database allows GME to track the parts manufactured and shipped by each supplier. The program currently covers over 95% of GM Europe’s auto parts suppliers.
Since initial introduction, OpSec has regularly re-engineered the security label to include the latest security technology features. The latest update to the brand protection program incorporate new advanced security technologies and a secure web portal for online ordering. GME estimated a saving of €500K on label production costs over 5 years.
The security device on the auto parts label is an Optically Variable Device (OVD) originated with advanced optical technology. The OVD contains multiple layers of overt and covert security. Overt features are seen easily with the naked eye, and allow for quick verification of product authenticity by all parties along the supply chain. The “on/off” feature shows the appearance of distinct images from different viewing angles. Covert features provide an advanced level of security, and are only revealed to field investigators and enforcement officials. The multi-layer strategy discloses covert security features only to relevant parties.
Supply Chain Visibility
Unique serialization on each label permits tracking of parts along the supply chain. Serial numbers are recorded in a secure online database, which can be accessed to trace the territory, supplier, shipment date, part type, and other product information. The tracking capability gives GME greater visibility into the precise volumes of replacement car parts entering the marketplace.
GME’s security label enables all the parties across its supply chain network to easily confirm the authenticity of original parts. GME is able to ensure only authentic goods are delivered and sold to authorized dealers.
Since the inception of the brand protection program, GME has yet to find a counterfeit part infiltrating its supply chain with a genuine label. The online tracking component gives GME visibility into their complex supply chain operations. The ability to track parts back to each supplier puts security checks in place that deter grey market diversion. GME has also controlled the infiltration of counterfeits within legitimate channels and given its suppliers the ability to operate in a market nearly free of illegal competition.