Blog : Our LEAN THINKING Series: Issue #5

Lower-cost Brand Protection

How to use your existing packaging for anti-counterfeit, traceability and customer engagement.

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LEAN THINKING is our series of thoughtful ideas on waste minimisation strategies.

We bring you smart product solutions to reduce all types of waste on your packaging line. These are the very same principles we use to design and build turn-key packaging lines for Australia’s biggest FMCG manufacturers.

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Wondering how to implement digital product traceability or anti-counterfeit solutions on your product packaging?

And what if you could simultaneously use it to connect directly with your consumers?

The rise of counterfeit products, particularly for high-value products, is a growing global problem.

From a product traceability perspective, being able to track the location and identity of your products quickly and accurately at any stage of the supply chain enables you to control quality, reduce inventory costs, and better manage a dreaded product recall.

Every brand owner dreams of having one-on-one direct connections with anyone that consumes their products to build increased loyalty, enhanced sales and lifelong brand ambassadors.

But, where and how do you start to implement solutions that deliver these outcomes?

A solution that delivers them all would reduce or eliminate these 5 waste points:

  1. Lost sales to counterfeits by demonstrating the provenance of your products.

  2. Counterfeit products with packaging that looks identical to your own—but with an inferior product—which damages your brand and affects sales.

  3. Time and cost of a product recall. Streamlined product traceability technologies can significantly reduce the risks and wasted products.

  4. Low ROI on marketing and advertising costs. Direct consumer engagement ensures marketing costs are targeted and more effective.

  5. Excess Inventory. Knowing where all your stock is within the supply chain makes it possible to reduce overall stocking levels.

The LEAN Solution

The best available solutions create a unique ‘digital twin’ of your manufactured product.

These digital identities are generally able to perform all three functions of traceability, anti-counterfeit and consumer engagement with the one technology solution.

Unique QR Codes

A unique QR (uQR) code needs to be digitally printed, either off-line during the label printing process or online, using laser, thermal or inkjet printing.

Thermal printing of 2D barcodes in real -time, embedding variable event information, is probably the most exciting development in recent times to advance traceability.

Unique QR codes are not easily replicated when good number generation algorithms are used.

However, there is potential for uQR’s of supply chain diverted products to be read and copied, creating counterfeits with ‘authentic’ uQR’s.

RFID and NFC chips

With tags now as low as 4c each, RFID and NFC technology are becoming more accessible.

All major smartphone makers now allow NFC tag reading. NFC tags can be encoded with a unique and locked digital twin, making them very suitable for track and trace. Tags are generally best inserted as a layer in a self-adhesive label.

These technologies also allow for aggregation of codes on each packaging level, making for simpler supply chain traceability tracking from pallet level to product level.

Just use your existing barcode!

An emerging technology embraces the inherent variability in the printing of normal retail barcodes to create a unique identifier on consumer goods.

The captured image taken of each barcode—at speeds up to 600 labels per minute on a production line—is converted into a unique alphanumeric digital twin string and stored in the cloud. No additive technology is used, just the existing retail barcode.

Incredibly, a regular smartphone is then able to read the ‘unique’ barcode to confirm the authenticity of the product. The technology cannot be replicated by counterfeiters and is simple to deploy on any production line or label conversion process.

Financial Impacts

Perhaps the question to ask yourself is whether your business can afford not to implement a ‘digital twin’ traceability technology.

Implementation and per unit costs have become very accessible, especially with a Foodmach-funded ‘FLEX’ solution. But it’s not a matter of just using one technology.

In Summary

Our best advice is to look for a multi-layered approach to traceability and anti-counterfeit.

No single technology is a silver bullet; the use of more than one technology is becoming the gold standard. Foodmach has experience with all of them.

We can provide advice on the optimal combination for your application and environment.

Foodmach is simply the fastest way to get control of your packaging line.

Just ask us

Read more about Coding and Labelling:

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