Safety labels prevent unauthorised tampering with packaging and render counterfeit products readily detectable. They have integrated or printed safety features designed to protect manufacturers and consumers from dangerous risk and the consequences of product piracy. These labels will be found, for instance, on medicines, hygiene articles, safety-critical components or high-grade branded products.
Counterfeit products amounting to billions of Euros are distributed annually – and the numbers are growing. To consumers, the unexpected fraud will be “only” extremely annoying at best, at worst it may be life-threatening. Manufacturers and sellers may suffer high economic losses, have their image damaged or even face liability litigation. Safety labels are effective in combating counterfeiting. Deployed cleverly, they will prevent product piracy since imitation could be impossible or far too complex. The following solutions are, for instance, available to check authenticity and protect products:
Guilloches and Moirés: Special patterns and effects comprising intertwined microlines are hard to imitate and will render mechanical manipulation visible.
A microwire is an extremely thin metal alloy encased in glass, invisible from the outside. A special reader can detect its presence.
Colours creating latent image effects, colours with thermochromatic properties or colours that are only visible under laser or UV light present a major hurdle to counterfeiters.
All those involved along a supply chain as well as dealers, consumers and public institutions (such as customs and police) should be able to detect the authenticity of a product quickly and easily. Weber Marking Systems, in close cooperation with several partners in industry, has developed a novel safety label architecture called “HybriSafe”. The name also conveys the “hybrid” concept, suggesting the combination of different types of safety characteristics in the same label. The safety elements are not just printed on, they are also integral components of the label material.
Like conventional labels, our safety labels may also be printed with variable information at a later stage. Datamatrix codes or barcodes may serve as an additional safety level with verifiable authenticity through automatic comparison to a database.
The serialisation principle is similar: Every product will be assigned a globally unique and encrypted randomly assigned serial number which will be stored in a central database. These data allow tracing of the supply chain back to the producer. This will actually as from 2019 be mandatory for prescription medicines in the pharmaceutical industry.
The option of granting consumers access to these databases as well is of particular interest. Today’s smartphones can read QR codes without a problem. Apart from checking authenticity, additional information may also be provided for a product – information such as warnings of allergenic substances or information on the source of ingredients.
RFID tags furthermore offer a convenient option of tracking products along the supply chain. RFID readers may, for instance, be used to identify large quantities of goods in shipping containers – simultaneously and without visual contact.
Seal stickers serve as verification that the original seal has not been tampered with. Once opened, they will be irreversibly damaged or leave permanent residues. This “proof of first opening” (Tamper Evident) prevents clandestine manipulation of the content. These safety features are often deployed for medical products, foodstuffs and cosmetics.
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