In Russia, in 2019, in a pilot mode, and in 2020, on a mandatory basis for certain groups of goods, the Honest Sign consumer protection system against counterfeit products began to work. Its essence lies in applying a special Data Matrix code to the packaging, with the help of which the products are entered into a single database and tracked at all stages of movement to the consumer.
The «Honest Sign» system was developed in order to provide the buyer with all the necessary information about the product and protect him from buying counterfeit goods that can be harmful to health. Any person who finds himself in front of a store counter with a smartphone will be able to get data about the product of interest: date and place of manufacture, expiration date, description. The introduction of such a system can protect the market, the manufacturer and the end consumer from fraudsters.
Requirements for the code
The applied digital code is a square-shaped identifier consisting of separate black and white elements. Each datamatrix code is unique and contains information about the product (public part available to the consumer) and a protective crypto-tail (private part) responsible for the security of information. The groups of goods required for labeling already include certain types of clothing, shoes, medicines, tobacco products, perfumes, bottled water, dairy products, and so on. This list is constantly updated.
The responsibility for the availability of the code lies with the manufacturer of the product or packaging. There are certain requirements for marking: the marking code must be printed, with a print quality of at least 1.5 ©, the minimum code size is 20×20 characters. The size of one element of the identifier must be greater than 0.255 mm, the coding equipment must provide this resolution.
Methods for applying Data Matrix code
The manufacturer of goods has the right to choose one of the marking methods:
- self-adhesive labels with a code printed in the printing house,
- directly on the packaging equipment,
- use packaging already marked by the manufacturer.
Label application is the easiest and cheapest way, ranging from
banal manual method and with the use of automatic applicators, providing a very considerable speed of work.
With automatic application, it is possible to mark both the already packaged product on the conveyor and the packaging material directly on the packaging equipment.
In the second case, the application of the code requires special marking equipment in production, which entails additional costs. On the
Today, one of the popular and inexpensive solutions for this has been the use of built-in inline thermal transfer printers that have a special print function and provide sufficient datamatrix code resolution. But this method of marking has limitations on printing speed, as a rule, it is 20-30 m/min., and insufficient reliability.
That is why the so-called «printing houses» were included in the chain of «Honest Sign» participants, supplying packaging materials with a code already applied.
And yet, with all the technologies available today for individual markings integrated into printing equipment, none of them can ensure the full operation of a modern flexographic printing machine, limiting its speed. It is also worth noting that this solution contributes to a significant increase in the cost of packaging material.
To date, it is very difficult to judge which of the methods is optimal for the manufacturer himself, since the range of dairy products produced and the methods of its packaging are too high, and these requirements are new for this market.