ADDISON, Texas, November 14, 2019 — Authentix, the authority in authentication and information services is proud to be part of this year’s York Top 100 Business list. Moving up from 85 in 2018 to 50th position is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the York, UK based team and all those who support them in delivering advanced authentication solutions.
As a joint effort ofYork Business School at York St. John University, Make It York and The Press, the York Top 100 Business List has been in publication for three years. This year’s process involved a thorough framework that included defined search parameters and a public financial reporting database software platform for data collection containing information on more than 11 million companies in the UK and Ireland.
The search and review process included companies within the City of York Council boundary and some postal codes adjacent to the city boundary. York Business School looked at elements such as turnover, balance sheet and/or shareholder funds, profit levels, growth rate over the past two years, and headcount.
“We are honored to be a thriving part of the York business community. Being recognized in the York Top 100 Business List is a testament to the commitment of the entire Authentix York team, and all of our employees who are focused on our clients and the communities we serve,” said Kent Mansfield, chief sales and marketing officer. “With our new position this year and being part of the top 50 Firms, our team is motivated to continue our company’s strategic focus to expand our reach as a global organization helping to create a world of confident commerce.”
As the authority in authentication solutions, Authentix helps customers thrive in supply and distribution chain complexity. Authentix provides advanced authentication solutions for governments, central banks and commercial companies, ensuring local economies grow, banknote security remains intact and commercial products have robust market opportunities. The Authentix partnership approach and proven sector expertise inspires proactive innovation, helping customers mitigate risks to promote revenue growth and gain competitive advantage.
Authentix, Inc. has offices in North America, Europe, Middle East, and Africa serving clients worldwide. For more information, visit https://www.authentix.com. Authentix® is a registered trademark of Authentix, Inc.
By Tim Driscoll, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Currency & Tax Stamp, Authentix
To achieve compliance with the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC), the European Union’s Tobacco Products Directive (EUTPD) became applicable in member states on May 20, 2016. The FCTC, like many overarching regulatory directives, leaves many of the implementation details up to the signatories. Enforceable as of May 20, 2019, EUTPD involves a wide range of stakeholders — security feature providers, secure document printers, tobacco manufacturers, tobacco distributors, data collection and storage companies, traceability solutions providers — and, of course, member state authorities. The EUTPD chose a disaggregated implementation model with multiple stakeholders supporting different parts of the program. Following a disaggregation strategy can help one to select a collection of best practices, which provide an optimal solution for their challenge. Unnecessary disaggregation of the solution, however, can introduce delays and confusion as well as an increased possibility of program fraud. The distributed nature of the EUTPD should be avoided by other countries or economic unions as they consider how to implement their own tobacco track and trace programs.
Centralization: The Key to an Effective Excise Tax Recovery Program
The EUTPD requires that each tobacco product is marked with a unique identifier (ID) to be generated by ID issuers that are financially and legally independent of the tobacco industry. The directive also calls for tamper-proof security features comprised of visible and invisible elements that will allow authorities to determine if the product is genuine or illicit. The tax stamp/security seal must have a combination of overt, semi-covert and covert features and include information such as the unique ID, location and date of manufacture, destination, etc. In the EU model, the three critical responsibilities of ID issuance, stamp design and printing, as well as data collection and storage providers, can be filled by three separate companies.
The International Tax Stamp Association (ITSA) has commented on various short comings of the EUTPD related to the lack of specificity regarding feature selection and the degree of responsibility provided to the tobacco companies.1, 2 Authentix concurs with many of the concerns expressed by ITSA and would like to add the following points to consider.
The EUTPD system contains three separate databases:
Economic Operator and Unique IDs managed by the ID issuer
A primary repository for the management of production data by a third party under contract with the tobacco manufacturer
A second repository that serves as a surveillance data store for member states and their competent authorities to evaluate the program and identify cases of illicit trade.
As a result of how the primary repository was defined, a member state is unable to select a single supplier to manage the data associated with the generation of the unique IDs and their supply chain events.
Designing a program with multiple databases managed by multiple suppliers creates the possibility of conflict between suppliers. Confusion or disagreements may arise when suppliers follow slightly different implementation approaches to the same standard. Also, troubleshooting issues often become more difficult when parties with shared responsibilities are involved. A comprehensive excise tax recovery program is a complex system. For other countries or economic unions considering FCTC compliance, we strongly recommend that the system is not designed to be unnecessarily complicated.
Role of Tobacco Affiliated Companies
It is clear that some program activities, such as the application of authentication and traceability elements onto the packaging, are best fulfilled by tobacco manufacturers. Other responsibilities such as controlling the production data and issuing aggregation codes have also been assigned in the EUTPD to tobacco companies and companies with strong ties to tobacco. And while many of these entities are compliant participants wanting to leverage these programs to protect their revenues from losses due to illicit trade, some are not.
For those starting to consider their approach to the FCTC compliance, this issue can be avoided by centralizing the program and selecting a single trusted partner. Even if one does not believe that there is a significant amount of illicit tobacco trade in their countries, why even introduce the possibility or concern that tobacco affiliated companies may be exploiting the system? Questions of fraud will persist in an implementation model where the manufacturers manage the production data; whereas if a single service provider is managing a central database, concerns of undue influence are eliminated.
Getting the implementation of a tobacco track and trace program right is critical as the recovered lost taxes fund government programs intended to empower citizens, create opportunities and change lives. Authentix believes the best way to achieve these goals is to implement a comprehensive excise tax recovery program involving a single third-party partner responsible for registering the members, generating the unique IDs, and collecting and managing the data in a central database with surveillance controlled by the government.
Authentix – A Comprehensive Tax Stamp Solutions Provider
Authentix collaborates with finance ministries, revenue agencies and custom departments to better understand their tax collection challenges and the complexity of supply and distribution chains operating within their country. Leveraging our experience as a provider of comprehensive tax stamp solutions, Authentix works with FCTC signatories to help them comply with the Protocol. In addition, as a stakeholder in the EUTPD, Authentix enables a European Ministry of Finance to serve as the designated ID issuer for two EU Member States. As a result, we have developed effective implementation and execution strategies to meet WHO and individual signatory mandates.
With the recent acquisition of UK-based secure printing company Security Print Solutions Limited (SPS), Authentix has expanded its security document design and printing capabilities while greatly enhancing its existing tax stamp program proficiency. This relationship strengthens our ability to design tax stamps that resonate with each government and enables us to incorporate a combination of highly effective security features at competitive pricing. Serving as a single source provider of registration, ID issuance, tax stamp creation, printing, data collection and analysis, we collaboratively partner with our customers to help them thrive in supply and distribution chain complexity. Authentix’s flexibility also enables us to provide services individually, seamlessly integrating with existing operations and third-party systems.
The Authentix Difference
The Authentix difference is driven by the Authentix Information System (AXIS®), our data collection, analysis and reporting software platform. AXIS consumes data collected through the life cycle of the unique IDs (generation, printing, delivery, application and activation, supply chain distribution, and retirement) and correlates it with additional data sources to highlight various patterns and abnormal events. This increases customer awareness of illicit trade, the efficacy of track-and-trace programs, and anticipates potential threats before they happen.
Authentix has deep experience in implementing new programs driven by government regulations. As an organization that provides authentication and traceability solutions to both commercial and government clients, we work effectively with all parties as we strive for the optimal balance between compliance and production operation realities. This ability allows us to smooth the way for our customers’ success and deliver on our mission to safeguard the integrity of global commerce.
By Tim Driscoll, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Currency & Tax Stamp, Authentix
World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control
“The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) is the first treaty negotiated under the auspices of the World Health Organization. The WHO FCTC represents a paradigm shift in developing a regulatory strategy to address addictive substances; in contrast to previous drug control treaties, the WHO FCTC asserts the importance of demand reduction strategies as well as supply issues.
The WHO FCTC was developed in response to the globalization of the tobacco epidemic. The spread of the tobacco epidemic is facilitated through a variety of complex factors with cross-border effects, including trade liberalization and direct foreign investment. Other factors such as global marketing, transnational tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, and the international movement of contraband and counterfeit cigarettes have also contributed to the explosive increase in tobacco use.”WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control
The WHO FCTC treaty was enacted in 2005 and passed its last milestone on May 20, 2019, which focuses on compliance directives and guidelines. To date, the treaty has 168 signatories and is legally-binding in 181 ratifying countries.
Following the treaty’s ratification, the WHO realized the issue of illicit trade in tobacco and tobacco-related products (e.g., smuggling) required its own treaty. The WHO’s second international treaty, The Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products (the Protocol), builds upon and complements Article 15 (see call out below) of the FCTC which addresses means of countering illicit trade in tobacco products and the measures member states must take to take to eliminate it.
Article 15 concerns the commitment of Parties to eliminate all forms of illicit trade in tobacco products. The Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products builds on this article. It includes obligations concerning the marking of tobacco packaging to enable tracking and tracing, the monitoring of cross border trade, legislation to be enacted, and conﬁscation of proceeds derived from the illicit trade in tobacco products. Parties are also required (in accordance with national law), to cooperate with each other and with international organizations in combating illicit trade
The Protocol was adopted in 2012 and open for signature January 2013–2014. It went into effect September 25, 2018 after the mandatory 40 member states had acceded to, ratified, accepted or approved it.
The Protocol: Track and Trace Programs
The Protocol focuses on the global tobacco epidemic from both a demand reduction and supply regulation position. It requires that signatories not only monitor and regulate manufacturers and distributors, but also apply other measures that address how the public interacts with tobacco and tobacco-related products (e.g., education, cessation programs, transitioning farmers from tobacco to other crops).
A key component in the Protocol (Part 3, Article 8) is the supply chain track-and-trace program which requires all tobacco and tobacco-related products to have a unique ID placed on the packaging. This ID enables products to be tracked throughout the supply and distribution chain (track), from manufacturer to first retail sale. Those movements are recorded and the data is stored with independent data storage providers. This data must be made available to government entities to help them determine where the item has been in the supply chain (trace) and support enforcement purposes.
Benefiting the Public
By eliminating the illicit trade in tobacco products, the track-and-trace program can help revenue authorities recover lost taxes needed to fund public programs. Fundamental is its efforts to protect the health and welfare of the public, particularly young people, by curbing tobacco use and protecting them from the even more harmful aspects of contraband cigarettes. It addresses issues from secondhand smoke exposure to lobbying standards to social economic programs to seizing contraband. Compliance with the FCTC promotes these efforts, helps protect public health and welfare, and enables a safer market for legal tobacco products − and that’s good news for everyone.
Choosing the Right Authentication Partner
To comply with the FCTC, signatories must use an independent party to register entrants and generate and issue ID codes for tobacco products. However, choosing the right authentication partner that understands your country’s challenges, supply chain, tax revenue laws and the types of illicit trade impacting your citizens, can seem daunting. Authentix collaborates with finance ministries, revenue agencies and custom departments to better understand their tax collection challenges and the complexity of supply and distribution chains operating within their country. Leveraging our experience as a provider of comprehensive tax stamp solutions, Authentix works with FCTC signatories to help them comply with the Protocol. In addition, as a stakeholder in the EU’s Tobacco Products Directive (EUTPD). Authentix enables a European Ministry of Finance to serve as the designated ID issuer for two EU Member States. As a result, we have developed effective implementation strategies to meet WHO and individual signatory mandates.
Our experience combined with AXIS®, our data collection, analysis and reporting software platform, enables us to provide actionable insights to our customers, delivering a deeper understanding of the collected data to help refine tax stamp programs and improve compliance, increase tax revenue and prevent fraudulent activities.
Authentix has been implementing excise tax recovery programs for more than 25 years. As an independent provider, our position allows us to effectively work with all involved parties, including both tobacco manufacturers and government agencies. This ability enables us to reduce the friction inherent in any compliance program and smooth the way for our customers’ success.
With the recent acquisition of Security Print Solutions Limited, the United Kingdom’s leading tax stamp printer, Authentix is further expanding its capabilities and technologies for an even stronger partnership with Finance Ministry and Revenue Agency customers.
Authentix. The Authority in Authentication.
Authentix provides advanced authentication solutions for governments, central banks and commercial products, ensuring local economies grow, banknote security remains intact and commercial products have robust market opportunities. Authentix offers both comprehensive tax stamp programs as well as customized point solutions to assist in tax collection.
Fuel integrity failures lead to significant revenue losses, brand damage, environmental pollution, poor vehicle performance and increased consumer complaints. To avoid these industry challenges, many branded fuel companies and government agencies are implementing fuel authentication programs throughout the supply chain. As more of these programs are implemented worldwide, stakeholders are finding significant return on investments as fuel quality is greatly improved, revenue and tax collections increase, and the overall integrity of the downstream supply chain is confirmed.
Digital Transformation in the Fuel Supply Chain — Right Data, Right Time
“Digital transformation in fuel authentication programs such as Wi-Fi-enabled mobile devices that communicate directly with our data analysis and reporting platform, AXIS®, can reduce data collection and reporting time in the field by 50 percent or more. The automated data uploads increase the speed and accuracy of data entry, eliminating errors resulting from manual processes used in the past.”Jeff Conroy, Chief Technology Officer, Authentix
The responsibility of managing the complex fuel supply and distribution chain falls on multiple stakeholders within a commercial brand or governmental agency. The value added through a reliable flow of accurate and timely data provides actionable insight for these stakeholders to measure and reconcile information quickly and enforce, react and remediate fuel fraud. In national fuel integrity programs for example, the agencies responsible for the collection of fuel excise taxes use data analytics to quickly detect the introduction of illicit fuel in the supply chain and, through fast enforcement action, increase tax collections and provide tremendous societal benefits.
Additionally, reliable digital data flow enables branded fuel owners to answer critical business questions about their downstream retail operations. Using a fuel marking program, coupled with digital data analytics, can ensure that premium additized fuel products are being distributed correctly under the right brand retail operations.
“Only one in four (25%) professionals believe they have the data needed to assure their brand’s fuel integrity.”Downstream Fuel Manipulation: The threats that could cost you, Oil & Gas IQ, 2018
Authentix has been a pioneer in combining physical fuel marking programs and the collection and automated analysis of supply chain data, and it has led the way on this digital transformation. Advancements in digital technologies have made fuel authentication programs and the resulting data analytics easier to collect, secure and provide both enterprise and mobile reporting capabilities for its customers, driving improved supply chain security and integrity. Instead of gathering, entering and storing data manually, as in the past, Authentix field inspectors use portable, handheld analyzers digitally connected to the cloud. These advanced mobile devices record supply chain data and communicate directly with our cloud-based data analysis and reporting platform, AXIS® (Authentix Information System).
The slow collection and reporting velocity of manually supplied data greatly increases the risk of fuel manipulation. Today, with advances in mobile or electronic telemetry data collection technology, AXIS® can enable users to quickly correlate fuel supply chain data with other correlated data from field devices and lab-based results for rapid response capability. For over 20 years, Authentix has been executing data reporting for our customers in real-time, analyzing supply chain results and creating actionable insights for improved program management and decreased opportunities for fuel manipulation or adulteration.
How Does AXIS® Work?
AXIS® is an integrated set of software applications designed to aggregate, store, analyze and present data from multiple and disparate sources to solve for potential supply chain integrity problems. Accessible through a remote web application, the system also presents dashboards and user-configurable reports to enable data-driven decisions and confident actions. Collected data could include geolocation, date and time of collection, retail or terminal IDs, and other identifiers and contextual data.
These identifiers ensure data integrity by establishing a chain of custody and providing contextual informa- tion to ingest and analyze. The correlation and analysis processes generate alerts and insights to ensure any needed revisions and optimization. For example, contextual data (e.g., truck tracking, bills of lading, retail pricing, etc.) provides insights beyond simply providing fuel integrity confirmation. It can also help determine how, when and where fuel supply chain fraud has occurred.
The insights and analytics provided by a robust information system like AXIS® can help prevent supply chain interruptions, program stoppage and lost revenue, while employing strict cybersecurity controls to ensure IT environment security. By generating answers and recommended actions through data analytics, AXIS® helps commercial brand owners and governments better understand and secure their fuel supply chains for the long-term.
Understanding Your Fuel Supply Chain
What has happened? Historical data is gathered — including store and terminal IDs, and date and time stamps — and correlated with similar data. Through data analysis, patterns and anomalous behavior become evident, potentially indicating manipulation or fraud. These descriptive insights are used to flag those incidents.
Why did it happen? Diagnostic insights from sales and supply chain data can help determine how a retail location received illegal or illicit fuel and point to specific transactions and individuals involved. Using that data, AXIS® can help users ascertain if all the non-compliant retail stations in a designated region received their fuel from the same terminal, implying that the exceptions noted could be quality control problems and not fraud. Data such as temperature and voltage records also help field inspectors monitor portable device performance, flagging potential servicing requirements that may be needed.
What will happen? Authentix is accelerating digital transformation for customers with a focus on advancing predictive analytics capabilities. For example, AXIS® can correlate and analyze program data and other external data sources to spot patterns and anomalous behaviors. This provides unique insight into new threats and accelerates detection and learning to provide a significant competitive advantage.
Can it be repeated? Prescriptive insights can help define possible actions needed to prevent fraud, enabling branded fuel companies and governments to create processes and improve supply chain management.
Leveraging Data Analytics to Drive Actionable Insights
Organizations often discover illicit fuel in certain markets, such as tax-evaded fuel sold as premium or transit fuel outside of an intended designated region. Comprehensive, end-to-end fuel authentication programs — from marker injection at the terminal down to field or lab testing results, and data analytics and resulting actionable insights — empower organizations to discover the origin of illicit fuels and prevent these events from happening in the future. By providing contextual information, Authentix fuel authentication programs help pinpoint trouble spots in the fuel supply chain that would not be discovered through normal security audit processes. With the technology to collect, upload and aggregate data using portable web-based devices, the workflow becomes truly automated, assuring greater fuel and data integrity through increased insights and accuracy.
“There is still a global underestimation of the vulnerability of paperwork, and many of the world’s largest companies are failing to recognize the risk of fraudulent or inaccurate documentation — not just their products.”
— Downstream Fuel Manipulation: The threats that could cost you, Oil & Gas IQ, 2018
Authentix: Accelerating Digital Transformation for Competitive Advantage
Authentix’s 25 years of industry experience and advanced technology provides customers with a distinct competitive advantage. Our secure marking technology, flexible implementation, proactive program support and actionable insights through the AXIS® platform, help customers thrive in a global economy. For more information, visit authentix.com.
In a recent survey conducted by Oil & Gas IQ, over 200 downstream industry leaders were asked about the importance of supply chain fuel integrity in delivering on their brand promise. Not surprisingly, 76 percent of respondents said it was very important and 19 percent responded it was somewhat important. Despite the importance of this matter, only 26 percent of the respondents said that they had access to the required data to assure supply chain fuel integrity.
This lack of supply chain data and subsequent corrective and preventative actions exposes brand owners to the ubiquitous risk of fuel manipulation. Fuel manipulation can occur through negligence, system failures, or deliberate illicit acts. Regardless of the cause, when it occurs it can have damaging and lasting effects on consumer confidence and the integrity of branded products – resulting in lost revenue and competitive advantage.
Many think fuel manipulation isn’t happening in their country or market, or that it is happening at a scale that can be considered part of the cost of doing business, perhaps in the range of five percent of the volume of product sold. Our experience at Authentix is that the volume is typically much higher – in many cases more than 30 percent of the volume of product sold. Petroleum products present a lucrative opportunity for those who wish to deliberately manipulate fuel supplies for their illicit gain. Perpetuating the crime is a simple exercise of price arbitrage – obtain a product at a low price and sell it at a higher price. Lower prices can be obtained from outright theft, subsidized products, smuggling, lower grade products, or adulteration of products with solvents, waste oils, or any low-cost liquid criminals can obtain. This is big business that often goes undetected as represented in a 2017 Ernst & Young report that estimated the illicit fuel market to be $133 billion a year.
Minimize Risks with a Comprehensive Fuel Integrity Program
When a comprehensive fuel integrity program is deployed with sampling, testing, analysis and enforcement, our customers have been able to effectively stop fuel manipulation and achieve returns on investment in many cases of over 10 times. A key tool Authentix uses to combat fuel manipulation and facilitate the tracking and authentication of fuel products is the application of unique chemical markers coupled with proprietary analyzers to detect and measure the markers in the fuel. This lock and key combination of markers and analyzers facilitates the rapid and definitive authentication of products throughout the supply chain – enabling you to detect manipulation from multiple sources. To date, we have marked and protected over two trillion liters of petroleum products across the globe to identify and ameliorate issues such as grade swapping, product adulteration, or quality issues (e.g., incorrect additive dosing, water contamination, etc.).
Over the last few years, we have transformed our solutions to merge the physical authentication results from fuel sampling and testing with ubiquitous data sources (e.g., volume flows, pricing information, truck tracking, etc.) to aggregate and analyze data via the Authentix Information System (AXIS®). AXIS enables our customers to proactively operate their supply and distribution chains for competitive advantage. This transformation has been enabled and accelerated by four ongoing industry trends:
Increase in data collection, enabled by better connectivity and the Internet of Things (IoT)
Cheap computing power and cloud infrastructures available
Improved analysis algorithms and inexpensive machine learning software available
Excellent open-source software options for data science programming and analysis
Today we are leveraging cloud architecture, simplifying data collection solutions while accelerating adoption of additional IoT sensors, and investing in proprietary data solutions to increase our ability to provide actionable insights to our customers. AXIS delivers insightful data analytics to isolate anomalies, reveal opportunities for fraud, and identify trends in unauthorized product placement, so you can act to maintain the integrity of the supply chain. By extracting the full value of customer, market, and supply chain data, and combining that with the integrity and responsiveness of our people, our customers gain a significant competitive advantage.
Enabling our customers to thrive in today’s complex supply chains requires more than a chemical marker and a device for measurement. It requires nuanced sector expertise and the means to collect, aggregate, and analyze supply chain data from multiple sources. It requires collaborative partnerships to leverage the growing ecosystem of IoT applications and data sources to deploy solutions quickly, and then learn, adapt, and drive toward predictive analytic solutions built on the AXIS platform. All of this contributes to our vision of creating a world of confident commerce – consumers can be confident they are getting what they pay for, and brand owners are confident they are competing on a level playing field to deliver on their brand promise.
Mention blockchain and many people will immediately think of Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies that have been dominating headlines over the past few years. Although cryptocurrencies are an example of blockchain technology, there are many other uses for the underlying fundamental properties that blockchains provide.
A general definition of blockchain is a distributed, append-only, immutable digital ledger. A blockchain is the connecting (or chaining) of packages of information together in a verified record by a network of users with an agreed upon protocol. This network of users and the record may be publicly available like the well-known cryptocurrencies, or it may be private and require permissions to access like the Hyperledger Fabric that is the basis of many commercially available blockchains for business use.
The protocols in different blockchains may have different advantages for different applications, but the important concept is that the ledger entries (data) are used as the input to a function. That digital data is used as a set of inputs to a protocol (mathematical functions), the output of which is another set of digital data. Once calculated (and validated by multiple parties) the ledger of transaction is updated with the new entries (a new block), and the answer to the function is published (added to the chain). These answers for each block are intertwined in the protocol so that all the past entries and the values calculated for the ledger cannot be changed without a different answer being arrived at by the algorithm. The new blocks would fail to give a correct answer, and nothing would be added to the chain.
The shared possession and processing of the blockchain amongst users acts as a means of instant validation of a historical set of data in that blockchain. No data can go into the blockchain unless it is formatted correctly, processed by the agreed upon protocol, and the new blockchain confirmed by multiple parties as being a valid record given those inputs. In the purely digital world, a blockchain can provide assurance that the all steps taken in a procedure have been undertaken, approved, and immutably recorded for future reference.
However, when we tie a blockchain to the physical world, more elements are needed to ensure a secure record of transactions is produced. While a ledger provides a record of a series of steps or transactions involving digital data, the generation of data such as ASTM test results, API certifications, or volumes of a product shipped between parties must also be done in a way to ensure the data produced is authentic. As in other supply chain solutions, the key is to design the protocol by which the physical to digital transformation of data is robust to accepting falsified data.
In the development of a finished lubricant, a blockchain could be used to carry the complete audit trail in the various production process. For example, the specifications, batch, and quality control results for base materials and additives can be recorded as they are produced according to accredited suppliers’ quality management systems. The procurement of such accredited materials can be tracked, and their use in a blended product verified by the production systems in place at blending facilities. The final QC values of finished goods can be recorded by the approved methods internal to producers or by independent third parties. All information can then be associated with batch, lot, or even individual container identifiers as part of the delivery and distribution process.
With proper physical controls in place, a blockchain can provide a validated audit trail of digital data that would accompany a finished product to verify the authenticity, provenance or properties of the products in the marketplace. When following established protocols for sampling, testing, and distributing physical products, tying a blockchain to a lubricant production process would allow quick verification of compliance. This would replace the disparate information systems, third-party audits and lack of common protocols that make fast and easy validation of materials difficult today.
Fuel manipulation can have a major impact on your revenue and brand reputation (and you might not even know it’s occurring).
Fuel integrity is a key component of brand protection for oil and gas companies distributing fuel to its consumers. Unfortunately, fuel manipulation is a widespread problem that can severely undermine your brand. How big is the fuel manipulation problem? Ernst and Young estimates that stolen, adulterated and defrauded fuel contributes to $133 billion of losses each year.
Fuel manipulation can be notoriously difficult to detect in the supply chain, but when discovered, the magnitude of the problem can be enormous. In a U.S. court case, for example, a petroleum wholesaler was found guilty of diluting medium and premium grades of gasoline with regular unleaded fuel. The company also represented and sold non-branded, low-grade fuels as branded fuels. Executives at the wholesaler were found criminally guilty and the firm was fined 30 million USD.
Sometimes fuel manipulation is a criminal act, sometimes it’s accidental. Improper dosing or blending of additives into fuels at terminal and retail sites can be caused by equipment failure, human error, or negligence. When that happens, oil companies lose revenue and suffer brand erosion.
Do you feel confident that your branded fuel that leaves the terminal is the same quality as what reaches the retail site and is ultimately sold to consumers? Without the right tools and technology to detect manipulation, you can’t really be sure.
Brand degradation occurs when customers unknowingly purchase adulterated fuels that result in poor engine performance or mechanical problems with their vehicles or other equipment. This will often trigger complaints (directly or on social media) and can result in negative coverage in the news media. Any type of fuel manipulation, irrespective of whether it occurred knowingly or unknowingly, is an exposure that can result in consumer mistrust of your products and cause irreparable damage to your brand.
Environmental damage can be caused by fuels that have been under-additized, leading to greater vehicle emissions, and consequently, more air pollution due to the mixing of waste products or non-petroleum products with your branded fuel.
Damage fuel claims can be devastating for oil and gas companies. If the damage claim stems from a single station operator, damage to the brand can be quickly localized. However, if the source of the problem is broader in scope (i.e., a large retail chain, a route operator, or fuel distribution terminal), the effects of complaints and damage claims can quickly gain momentum, harming the brand’s reputation and running up significant operating costs.
You must defend your downstream supply chain. The supply chain for an oil and gas company is becoming increasingly complex. The more complex, decentralized and variable the supply chain, the greater the risk of manipulation. When fuel enters your supply chain, it moves through fuel terminals to wholesalers and retailers that may include franchisees, oil marketing companies, sub-distributors, carriers, open dealers, and independent store owners. Fuel integrity can be compromised at any “link” in this complex supply and distribution chain.
The disparity in price between a differentiated or branded fuel and a lower-grade or non-branded fuel creates an enticing arbitrage opportunity that can result in fraud and illicit gain. For example, unethical operators can illegally dilute a high-price and high-value product with low-cost and lower-grade fuel and pocket the difference. Diluting premium fuels with regular fuels of the same brand can place an additional 10% of income in a perpetrator’s wallet, more if the diluent is an unbranded fuel. If the diluent is not fuel but is instead water or a waste product (i.e., used motor oil), the return could be as much as 100 percent.
You can be sure of fuel integrity with an advanced fuel authentication solution. An effective fuel authentication solution illuminates the supply chain to identify the opportunistic, fraudulent or accidental manipulation of differentiated and branded fuels. This can be accomplished by incorporating covert chemical markers into refined petroleum products and utilizing analyzers to validate the authenticity.
Fuel marking is an extremely effective solution to enable your organization to defend against manipulation and achieve revenue targets for your branded and differentiated fuels. By understanding where you have been compromised in the supply chain, your organization can then take corrective action to prevent future manipulation and ensure your fuel’s authenticity in the long term.
Another benefit of a well-designed fuel authentication solution is its powerful deterrent effect. When fuel retailers know their stations are being randomly audited, and they know the range of penalties that other operators have incurred for diluting fuel, they tend to be much more resistant to temptation and the level of contract compliance increases dramatically. After all, no one wants to be the next case study for the effectiveness of the fuel authentication solution.
You can be your company’s brand protector. If your company was a football/soccer team, you’d be the goalkeeper. Your team depends on you to protect what matters most. Every day you are protecting your downstream supply chain from unpredictable threats that range from terminal issues to intentional acts of fuel manipulation. If even one ball gets past you into the net, it can have devastating consequences—lost revenue, harm to the environment, and damage to your brand reputation.
Your customers trust you to deliver a quality product, and it is your job to deliver on that promise. With the right fuel authentication solution, you can confidently assure the integrity of your supply chain—from the terminal to the pump.
Chad Crouch is Vice President at Authentix, the authority in authentication solutions. Authentix helps you thrive in supply and distribution chain complexity by providing advanced authentication solutions for governments, central banks and commercial products. These solutions ensure that local economies grow, banknote security remains intact, and commercial products have robust market opportunities. Our partnership approach and proven sector expertise inspires proactive innovation, helping you mitigate risks to promote revenue growth and gain competitive advantage.