The Evolution of Security Printing

January 10, 2020

The Evolution of Security Printing

A Look at The Product Label’s Digital Future

By Gary Nelson

The product label has been a constant in packaging for nearly a century. And yet, its contents and purpose has evolved radically since its initial introduction. As the go-to source for product information, today’s product labels are referenced by diverse stakeholders throughout the supply chain as a trusted source of accurate insight into product origin, components, genealogy, expiration date, and more.

Still, many product labels provide only an isolated snapshot of the product, without evolving as the product makes its way through the supply chain. Enter the age of the informed consumer, a time at which end users demand greater transparency into the products they use. In this context, a passive approach to product information is no longer sufficient. As such, industry leaders are increasingly augmenting the product label with digital solutions that enable end-to-end insight, efficiency, and control at every point of the supply chain. Let’s take a look at the transformation:

As such, industry leaders are increasingly

augmenting the product label

with digital solutions that enable

end-to-end insight, efficiency, and control

at every point of the supply chain.

The Emergence of Security Printing

In its earliest form, the product label was simply used to identify the product for the customer. However, it quickly evolved into a tool to present essential information on usage, safety, disclosures, and price. Then, in 1982, a string of cyanide-laced Tylenol capsules lead the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue its first regulations for tamper-resistant packaging of over-the-counter drugs. Industries across sectors followed this precedent, introducing tamper-evident elements to their products. For the first time, the product label had a security purpose.

Next came the barcode. While a pack of Wrigley’s chewing gum was the first item to be labeled and purchased with a UPC barcode in 1974, by 2004, the barcode was used by 80-90 percent of the top 500 U.S. companies. While the barcode was revolutionary—with critical information carried in one digital representation adhered to the packaging—it was not enough to keep up with modern demands.

In order to better prevent the forgery or tampering of products, companies later began introducing digital elements along with tamper-evident features that allowed for the tracking and authentication of goods. In more recent years, RFID—which reads digital data encoded in a tag or smart label via radio waves—has become a widespread technology utilized to serve up relevant and timely product insights. Today, RFID technology continues to grow in prevalence, expected to reach $24.5 billion by 2020.

However, RFID is often used only in the final label affixed to the product. Therefore, the RFID label is unable to recall data records that were manually logged throughout the product lifecycle. With the mounting need to monitor component, product, and batch quality and integrity continuously, companies must rethink their approach to product labels, ensuring insight from supplier to end user.

The Future of Product Security

In order to monitor high volume, high velocity products on a massive scale, industry leaders are combining tamper-evident labels with best-in-class technology to achieve greater insight and control than ever before. By affixing scannable, serialized labels to every component, product, and batch from the earliest stages of the supply chain, then storing digital genealogies in a highly secure Blockchain-enabled database, brands are able to activate supply chain-wide transparency that results in:

  • Greater Quality Control: By identifying and isolating compromised products and batches in real time, companies are able to ensure the consistency and integrity of every item that reaches market.
  • Enhanced Profitability: By automating documentation and compliance, companies eliminate the time-consuming and costly processes associated with manually entering and maintaining data.
  • Improved Consumer Safety: By adhering tamper-evident features to every product, companies can access digital records with a single scan to rapidly close security holes and empower customers to identify potentially compromised goods.

An All-in-One Solution for Product Security with Ashton Potter

Just as the lion’s share of product labels fail to provide end-to-end insight, existing factory systems also fail to address product security holistically. To bridge the gap, modern manufacturers require a solution that combines leading edge traceability technology with the most innovative techniques in security printing.

ProLinc®, by Ashton Potter, is that solution. As a dynamic SaaS-based traceability solution, ProLinc pairs serialized identities generated through our high security printing capabilities with advanced product traceability to create comprehensive digital records for any product, anywhere in the world. With a single scan of the tamper-evident label, key stakeholders can instantly access data via a Blockchain-enabled database, empowering them to make informed, data-driven decisions.

Speak with an expert today to learn more about how Ashton Potter pairs high security printing with advanced traceability technology to elevate visibility and product security throughout your supply chain.

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