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Auto-ID enables traceability for anti-counterfeiting

November 1th, 2018

Counterfeit goods are a growing problem in the supply chain. Surveys have showed that 47% of brands have experienced lost sales due to counterfeiting, estimating 2.5% of world trade is counterfeit. Counterfeit goods eat into company’s profits and can destroy brand reputation since customers are paying premium price for substandard goods not knowing that the items are counterfeit.

In the case of counterfeit food and pharmaceuticals, there can be serious health consequences for consumers.  Food can be been adulterated or tampered with, cut with cheaper ingredients. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 10% of drugs worldwide are counterfeit, often not including the therapeutic ingredient at all. Global agencies are fighting counterfeit goods in the supply chain with mandated traceability in regulations such as the EU’s False Medicines Directive (FMD) and Food Law, and US FDA’s Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) and Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

How can auto-ID technologies benefit the fighting against counterfeit goods?

Auto-ID technologies such as barcodes and RFID can enable product traceability that protects against counterfeiting. There is a growing trend toward item-level serialization, which serves as a powerful anti-counterfeiting tactic. UPCs are easy to copy and clone, but including a unique identifier on each package mitigates this. Some companies are putting the power of traceability into the consumers’ hands, with technologies such as QR codes that link to an item’s entire provenance and chain of custody.

While barcodes are a line-of-sight technology, RFID “listens.” Any RFID-tagged item within range of a scanner is detected and read. RFID can be can be a powerful anti-counterfeiting solution as it is difficult to replicate, and tags are not easy to remove from packaging. With RFID inlay price points coming down and readability rates improving with advances in technology, RFID isn’t considered anymore as a difficult-to-comprehend technology, and many manufacturers and retailers are adopting RFID for anti-counterfeiting and security. Because some nodes in the supply chain may not yet own RFID readers, a good solution to capture the benefits of RFID is to create a label with both a barcode and an RFID tag to carry an item’s unique identification information.

BarTender’s RFID encoder

BarTender’s RFID tag encoding is performed in the same simple way as creating a barcode. In BarTender the data that populates the barcode and the RFID chip can come from the exact same data source, thus improving traceability, reducing error and capturing operational efficiencies. Contact BlueStar to learn all about it and purchase your own BarTender RFID tag encoder.

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