Keeping it Real: Barcodes and Holograms

Authenticity - Barcode and HologramDoes your organization have to deal with the threat of having your products being counterfeited? What plans do you have in place to prevent this, or at least make it more difficult?

A while ago I wrote about how giving products a digital voice can give the item the ability to share information with us.

Our label pictured here uses a unique Datamatrix barcode and a hologram to make it difficult for any one to add a fake product into the supply chain.

Using unique identification numbers, encoded in a machine readable form means that the item can provide us with a lot of really useful information – including the basics such as part and serial numbers, location, service history.

Using this information to create an Electronic Pedigree for the labeled item, enables the item to talk to us when we scan the barcode and query the database. If the product turns out not to be in the expected location or if the other data isn’t consistent it can be highlighted for further investigation. While it is simple to copy a barcode, the backend data is accessible only to authorized people (hopefully!)

Some companies such as our friends at Valmarc have developed mobile apps to allow consumers to check the authenticity of products in real-time. In the defense supply chain, where counterfeit items are becoming a serious problem, the UID program uses Datamatrix barcodes and the UID Registry database to provide an Electronic Pedigree for many government owned items.

In addition to using embedded data to produce the integrity of the products, holograms add another layer of security as well. For sure, holograms can be copied (quite quickly in Asia, I’m told) but each piece of security that is included makes life that much harder for the pirates.

hologram thermal transfer ribbonWe have also been testing out hologram thermal transfer ribbons. While these don’t give quite the full hologram effect, they do make for a rather high quality look to the label and add that little extra level of brand protection.

On the example shown here, I created a format in BarTender which I printed onto the labels using one of our usual printers. The hologram ribbon prints very nicely and I’d like to try some different designs to get the best holograph effect.

While there is no quick and easy solution to the counterfeit products problem,  existing technologies such as holograms and the use of uniquely encoded data can certainly help.

What about your organization? Would giving your products or items a Digital Voice help with anti-counterfeit or better control of your assets, inventory or supply chain? Feel free to call me at 603-598-1553 x237.

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