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Smart codes authenticate

High-resolution printing and code verification protect products from counterfeiting.

Show Daily Exclusive - The roots of Reynders date to 1956 when Emile Reynders started a humble stationery printing business from his family home. Today, the company, headquartered in Boechout, Belgium, has grown to become a leading label printing specialist with more than 70 printing presses across eight facilities in Europe and Asia.

Reynders believes it must constantly reinvent itself to succeed. Embracing new ideas with a strong focus on process excellence has enabled Reynders to respond to the most challenging customer requirements. So when a prestigious consumer brand wanted a cost-effective technology to prevent its packaging from being counterfeited, Reynders rose to the challenge.

ANTICOUNTERFEIT PACKAGING

Traditional authentication technologies, such as special inks and dyes, taggants, holograms and watermarks, printed directly on the packaging substrate or on an authentication label, can substantially increase production complexity and cost. Printing a variable QRcode offers more cost-effective track-and-trace authentication. Unfortunately, a QRcode is relatively easy to duplicate.

Enter ScanTrust, a Cloud-based product authentication and supply chain traceability specialist. Marc Reynders, CEO of Reynders, explains, “ScanTrust’s technology involves printing a secure QRcode, containing a unique fingerprint pattern that cannot be copied and can be easily verified using a mobile app. No special printing equipment, ink or paper was required, making this the ideal, cost-effective solution we were looking for.”

However, when the Reynders project team started integrating the ScanTrust technology into its workflow, it encountered issues.

CHALLENGES

The ScanTrust secure code technology requires the unique fingerprint pattern within the QRcode to be printed at 1,200 dot/in. (DPI) resolution. At the start of a print run before full production commences, the first few QRcodes with embedded fingerprint have to be verified against ScanTrust’s Cloud-based server to ensure the codes are readable, registered and authenticated.

Reynders already had a color digital press with all the required capabilities, but verifying and authenticating the code proved to be a challenge.

Sebastiaan Reynders, production leader for Digital Printing at Reynders, recalls, “Using a Smartphone with the ScanTrust app to scan secure codes at the start of every job worked fine for low print volumes. However for large print runs, a fully automated solution was required to . . . meet our productivity targets. Furthermore, we had no way of determining whether the print quality of the secure codes was being maintained throughout the . . . print run. This meant that we could not guarantee the readability of the codes and therefore the integrity of the whole application.” It became clear that the authentication process and print quality monitoring had to be automated.

CAMERA-BASED INSPECTION

Reynders and ScanTrust concluded that a custom, camera-based inspection system was needed. As Justin Picard, ScanTrust’s co-founder and CTO, recalls, “Having previously spoken with Lake Image Systems (Booth S-4153) at various trade events, I knew that they were one of the few companies that had the camera technology and software expertise to read the ScanTrust QRcode, capture a high-resolution image of the unique fingerprint and integrate with our Cloud-based authentication platform.”

A system was quickly architected. At the exit of digital color press, Lake Image Systems installed its latest 16K line-scan camera to capture high-resolution images of the ScanTrust code. Discovery Multiscan software reads, decodes and validates the QRcode, extracts the unique fingerprint image and interrogates the ScanTrust Cloud system to authenticate the code at the start of each job. A positive response from the ScanTrust Cloud prompts the Discovery Multiscan software to signal the operator to complete the run.

Throughout the run, the software continues to read and validate each QRcode. Integration with an offline ScanTrust tool assures the quality and integrity of the fingerprint. The fully automated process ensures each code is readable and valid, thereby satisfying a critical client requirement.

IMPACT

The inspection system eliminated time-consuming, error-prone manual steps the operators had to perform before every job.

The versatility of Discovery Multiscan software in combination with powerful camera technology has turned a challenging operational issue into a viable, secure and profitable printing service for Reynders. “Although we use camera-based inspection technology in other parts of our business, we were impressed with the full range of print quality inspection and data verification capabilities available to us at an affordable price,” says Reynders. He adds, “We were particularly pleased with their expertise to understand our specific issues and then to quickly develop and implement a working solution in collaboration with ScanTrust . . . . With the combined ScanTrust and Lake Image solution in place, we can now fully automate our workflow according to our high standards and have the reassurance that we are delivering a quality, error-free product.

“The market for a highly effective, traceable and low-cost solution for producing secure packaging is expanding fast. With this solution, we are now well-positioned to benefit from this growth and are already delivering this secure packaging solution to two additional clients, with a few more in the pipeline.”

For more information, visit www.lakeimage.com. SD

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