As technology advances and changes take place in the packaging industry, the security threats to product packaging are also changing. Luckily, there are plenty of new technologies that can help you reduce those security threats, providing confidence for your consumers, and protecting your company from legal trouble.
The Changing Threats
It is no secret that product packaging is becoming more digitized, with more companies incorporating the Internet of Things into their packaging lines and automating tasks. While this is great for productivity, it also leaves the room open for potential problems. Hackers, for example, could theoretically access the systems and change information.
Hackers could use that ability to compromise the quality of products or even to steal products and replace them with counterfeits while removing any trace of their actions in the system.
Basics Still Work: Tamper-proof Packaging
Before exploring the technology that can reduce modern security threats, it is worth noting that the traditional techniques still work well. Examples are tamper-proof packaging for pharmaceuticals, such as blister packs, tear tapes, shrink wrap, and perforated seals.
Basics Still Work: Traditional Tracking
When it comes to tracking and tracing products, the basics do still work to some extent. These include linear and 2D bar codes or encrypted data. However, advances in technology make it easier than before for hackers to overcome these.
QR and RFID
One of the most common categories of technology that companies use to reduce security threats on their packaging is called track and trace. This is the use of QR codes, RFID, and other methods to track or trace the movements of a product from production to the end-user. These quick-response codes and radio frequency identification combine with the Internet of Things to quickly or instantly trace products.
In practice, this amounts to having employees or robots scan the QR code, RFID chip, or other tracking devicesfor individual products or packages of many products at each key location in the supply chain. Luckily, advances in smart technology mean that humans do not typically have to scan each QR code or RFID chip individually.
The idea is that if one of the scheduled scans is missing, it may indicate that someone stole the product or swapped it with another one. This is particularly helpful for industries with counterfeit issues, from fashion to electronics to pharmaceuticals. It is vital in the last of these, as counterfeiting can be a matter of health.
RFID for More Than Tracking
In addition to their role in tracking and tracing, RFID tags can even send alerts to customers, so they know that a package is coming.
BLW and NFC
Bluetooth Low-Energy (BLW) and near-field communication (NFC) are yet another type of technology to track and trace products. The bonus of these technologiesis that they are simple enough to work with a smartphone, so consumers can even use them for confidence.
As a bonus, NFC chips have unique serial numbers. This makes it obvious if a product is swapped, as the NFC chip will have to be as well. That uniqueness also makes it easier for companies to track specific products in the case of theft.