Digital Product Passports: B2B, Are you Ready?

September 11, 2023

If you find yourself out of breath, trying to keep up with rapid changes in your industry, you’re not alone. The nature of pretty much everything today is to change fast, change hard, and not fall behind. And because we’re moving so quickly, margin errors expand. In B2B commerce, as it relates to product information management (PIM), the pace we’re moving at can make it difficult to keep track of the product lifecycle.

That’s where digital product passports (DPP) come in. A comprehensive and interconnected digital representation of a physical product, a DPP enhances transparency, traceability, and quality assurance, bridging information gaps, reducing risks, and elevating accountability.  

A few industries are bound to have a very keen interest in DPP: aerospace, automotive, healthcare, and pharmaceuticals to name a few. Take the pharma sector, which we’ve discussed at length recently in our whitepaper and blog posts. Here, there has been growing interest in using digital platforms to enhance transparency about product origin, manufacturing processes, and distribution of medications, medical devices, and other healthcare products. Because DPP improves supply chain transparency and regulatory compliance, these sectors can more responsibly source the modern business landscape. 

That said, DPP is relevant to all sectors, and as the concept becomes more widespread, B2B businesses that proactively prepare for its integration will be better positioned to reap its benefits. 

In this blog post, we’ll explore DPP and what it means for the B2B landscape. We’ll discuss:

  • The essence of a digital product passport;
  • The problems a DPP solves in B2B;
  • How DPP impacts B2B commerce; and
  • How B2B businesses can prepare to implement DPP. 

What is a digital product passport (DPP)?

A digital product passport is an interconnected set of data, information, and documentation accompanying a physical product from its creation in the manufacturing process to its end-of-life stage. 

Think of it as virtual x-ray vision that’s providing transparency to your product. The digital product passport serves as a single source of truth that provides detailed information about the item’s design, manufacturing processes, components, materials, quality control measures, maintenance instructions, and usage guidelines. Its purpose? To enhance transparency, traceability, and communication across the product lifecycle. 

Beyond the physical product, a DPP will also hold information about quality control and testing, instructions for proper usage, maintenance schedules, information about the product’s environmental impact, ownership, interactions, and regulatory approval information. It can also suggest product end-of-life actions to ensure safe disposal and sustainable practices. 

When it comes to handling a seamless supply chain, avoiding counterfeiting, and ensuring sustainability and safety, the DPP plays an integral role in upholding product integrity and improving accountability. 

What problems does DPP solve?

All sectors face unique tribulations, but stand united in several challenges that the DPP exists to solve. These problems include:

  • Effectively managing the supply chain
  • Upholding product integrity
  • Ensuring customer protection
  • Comprehensive product lifecycle management
  • Reducing environmental impact
  • Communication & innovation

With a detailed record of the product’s journey through the supply chain, a DPP ensures that companies can enhance transparency and ensure regulatory and quality standards across their processes to protect customer and patient safety and ensure product quality. The passport supports the entire lifecycle of a product, from design and manufacturing to usage, maintenance, and end-of-life disposal. This holistic view aids in decision-making at each stage and helps facilitate sustainable practices.

With the product lifecycle carbon-copied by the passport, companies are positioned to execute clear and consistent communications and keep pace with the evolution of regulations and standards. Moreover,  a DPP enables a company to focus on innovation and collaboration versus manual and tedious product lifecycle management processes as they become documented by the passport.

How will DPP impact B2B commerce?

The DPP will have a positive impact on B2B organizations and their commerce platforms and practices. In B2B, most if not all sectors navigate sophisticated supply chains, complex products and services, and intricate regulatory compliance measures. A digital product passport has great impact on these operations. 

As B2B companies handle multiple suppliers and partners, the DPP provides clear product visibility into the origin, components, and manufacturing processes. With access to detailed product information via the passport, B2B businesses can better assess and manage their suppliers, ensuring compliance with regulations, and minimizing risks associated with unreliable suppliers. 

The passport also boasts customizations and integration capabilities. B2B businesses can integrate passport data into their internal systems to improve data, analytics, and reporting, leading to more efficient operations and strategic business decisions. With a deeper understanding of the products the business is purchasing, companies can provide better support to their customers and make informed recommendations. 

How can B2B businesses prepare for DPP?

Preparing for digital product passports involves a combination of technological readiness, organizational alignment, and strategic planning.

First and foremost, the business needs to ensure that organizational stakeholders are familiar with the idea of digital product passports so that they can embrace the tool accordingly. From there, a product prioritization exercise will be required to identify the most critical products to the business and supply chain and the most prime for a DPP integration. A data standardization exercise, where specific data fields and formats are audited, is important in preparing for passport adoption. 

In the meantime, B2B organizations can kick-off supplier collaboration by opening up the conversation about digital product passports and the importance of accessing comprehensive product information. 

When it comes to adopting the passport, B2B businesses will need to research and evaluate technology solutions that can help create, manage, and maintain digital product passports. B2B can consider piloting the implementation of digital product passports with a subset of products or suppliers to fine-tune processes before full-scale implementation. 

The digital product passport beholds the opportunity to revolutionize product information management and how B2B business operations are conducted with respect to product management. Talk to Zaelab about how your B2B business can prepare itself for DPP to win in the market.

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