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. The company’s capability to deliver its impressive collection of brands was put at risk when counterfeit parts began to find their way in GME’s supply chain. GME’s multiplex of supply networks contained blind spots which became too costly and time-consuming for GME to effectively fix on their own. GME reached out to OpSec Security, a global leader in brand protection, and optical authentication.
OpSec was able to provide the solution. 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 that would give field operators, dealers, servicing agents, investigators, and enforcement officials the power to spot genuine parts from fake ones quickly and easily.
OpSec as the Solution
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. To accomplish this, OpSec provided GME visibility into its parts shipments across its supplier network.
OpSec designed a solution to meet the requirements GME desired– their solution gave GME the power to enable parts identification, provide anti-counterfeiting technology, and make order tracking possible at any stage.
OpSec’s security label not only consolidated variable GM parts data with anti-counterfeiting technology but also provided serialization for itemized tracking. The novel solution design met the requirement in a single label construction. As a result, the label was easily integrated into the supply chain process.
For full integration to be possible, GME’s suppliers are required to apply the security label on all parts shipments. The quantities of labels ordered can be checked against the shipment of parts that each supplier is contracted to manufacture. Pairing the two allowed parts to be seen at every stop, at any given moment.
OpSec’s personalized holographic labels seamlessly integrate into a customized ordering system that 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.
An Enhanced Program
Since initial introduction, OpSec has regularly re-engineered GME’s security label to include improved security features and more efficient and sustainable material usage. The brand protection program was updated to incorporate new advanced security technologies and a secure web portal for online ordering. GME estimated a saving of €500K (nearly $600k USD) 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 holographic image contains multiple layers of overt and covert security. Overt features can be seen with the naked eye, allowing 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 revealed only to field investigators and enforcement officials. The multi-layer strategy allows covert security features to be disclosed only to relevant parties.
Supply Chain Visibility
GM Europe (GME) has a global network of thousands of suppliers that produce and distribute auto aftermarket parts to service its European product lines. Spare parts from GME’s suppliers are funneled to distribution centers and warehouses before reaching dealers and shops for sales and service.
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 every party across its supply chain network to easily confirm the authenticity of original parts. GME can 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 gray market diversion. GME stemmed the infiltration of counterfeits within legitimate channels and given its suppliers the ability to operate in a market nearly free of illegal competition.
“We have achieved significant benefits from greater visibility into our supplier network. The program has also been successful in preventing the infiltration of counterfeits into our replacement parts supply chain.”Charles Mann – Brand Protection Manager, GM Europe
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.