In the fight against brand counterfeiting and diversion, it is important to know exactly where your products are throughout the supply chain. Comprehensive coding and marking solutions can help brand owners to better track and audit the movement of their brands, ensuring product authenticity and proper distribution. Technological innovation allows coding systems greater automation and wider integration across the supply chain.
It is said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but not when it means the theft of your product. Globally established cosmetics, personal and home care brands produced across multiple regions and locations are often at risk of counterfeiting, the illegal reproduction of branded goods. Another serious issue facing cosmetics and personal care brands is supply chain diversion, the sale of authentic goods outside of legitimate channels, such as salon-only hair care products being sold in mass-market retailers. Counterfeiting and supply chain diversion can negatively impact consumer brands, resulting in damage to a brand’s hard-earned equity and consumer trust, and potential consumer liability. Ultimately, diversion can undermine established distribution channels, and result in lost revenue and profits.
Code Assurance solutions
The first step in brand protection is Code Assurance – making sure the right code is in the right place on the right product and packaging. 70% of coding errors are caused by operator error; the most common mistakes being incorrect data entry and incorrect job selection. These human errors can negatively affect product quality and brand reputation, and in-crease operational costs through scrap and rework. By integrating a Code Assurance system into the production line,manufacturers can improve operational efficiency and minimize waste caused by coding errors.
Two factors that directly impact operational efficiency is the availability and quality of production line coding. Rather than manually setting up production jobs individually on each printer, Code Assurance can be accelerated by having a centralized print job database away from the production line. As such, set-up and changeover times are improved and avail-ability is increased. In addition, all jobs are pre-validated and all information is readily available so that the likelihood of in-correct data being inputted is dramatically reduced. Certain systems use handheld scanners to select production jobs from work orders and can automate set-up of multiple printers in as little as 15 seconds.
Automatic code detection
Automatic code detection provides an inspection of every printed code, delivering an earlier alert than provided with a manual inspection process.
This helps manufacturers to take immediate corrective action, reducing waste and eliminating additional process steps that rework necessitates.Automatic code detection is performed using printing equipment with integrated machine vision systems. These systems offer advanced quality control checking that can be integrated with third-party packaging line systems. Operational and coding requirements vary among manufacturers, so the ability to easily tailor an automated coding system to meet these needs is critical. User-defined parameters and set-up options help companies easily achieve their individual level of Code Assurance.
With protocols in place to deliver Code Assurance, the next step is to implement innovative coding technology and software to protect brands from losses associated with counterfeiting and supply chain diversion. This includes the use of various coding solutions such as smart coding, overt and covert coding, and supply chain visibility with specialized product tracking software.Codes can be applied directly to commonly used materials, such as HDPE and PET bottles, jars and containers. Codes can also be applied to glass bottles, jars, metal aerosol cans, as well as specialty containers for products including deodorants, lip gloss, and makeup.
Enhancing basic lot or batch codes by altering and verifying specific characters in the codes through algorithmic software can make the code more difficult for unauthorized parties to replicate.
Advanced software generates fully random codes and incorporates Electronic Product Code (EPC) structures, or administers codes pregenerated from outside sources, allowing for the effective tracking of each and every unit of product throughout the entire supply chain. Using smart codes, difficult for grey and black market participants to emulate, is an important part of an effective counterfeit and diversion prevention system.
Overt and covert coding
In addition, sophisticated packaging with permanent high-quality coding can help instill brand confidence and prevent code removal. Visible codes are an important layer of defence against counterfeiting and diversion. Laser marking systems can be used to apply high-quality permanent overt codes that discourage removal by unauthorized parties, as well as logos, bar codes, graphics and other information that can be used to enhance protection. Laser is capable of coding a wide range of materials,including flexible plastics, paper, glass, metal aerosols, folding cartons, specialty containers and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and polyethylene terephthalate(PET) plastics.Meanwhile, invisible coding for distribution partners can help identify products that may enter unauthorized channels. Ultraviolet (UV) codes applied using Continuous Inkjet (CIJ) technology can be combined with unique numbering schemes to add an additional layer of protection. This provides an unobtrusive solution for tracking products through the supply chain, which can be read by supply chain partners with UV vision equipment. UV ink is applicable for a variety of common substrates such as glass and plastics.
Track and trace
Integrating software into existing digital coding systems can increase supply chain visibility and alert brand owners to any unwanted deviations along the way.Layering advanced software with coding technology capable of delivering machine readable codes, helps ensure efficient and effective tracking of all products through-out the supply chain.Clear printing of bar codes and aggregated product information on shipping cases can enable tracking and boost supply chain efficiency. Print and Apply Labelling (LPA) or large character inkjet marking (LCM) can print high-quality, high resolution images and coding information on shipping cases. Combined with tracking soft-ware, unique shipping cases can be effectively identified, dated and inventoried,preventing unauthorized activity in your supply chain.In today’s world, supply chain security is a major concern for cosmetics, personal and home care product manufacturers. Coding has taken a leading role in efforts to improve overall operating efficiency and brand protection. With that in mind, the foundation of any solution is Code Assurance, ensuring the correct code is applied to each product. Brand protection can be woven into larger, more comprehensive systems to ensure product authenticity and authorized distribution. Combined with real-time tracking software along the entire supply chain, this multifaceted approach can increase operational efficiency while protecting valuable brands from counterfeiting and diversion.