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The Label Says it All

Security logistics labels from Schreiner ProTech showcase the label industry's expertise in product authentication.

image FINAT, Europe’s international industry association for self-adhesive labels, is active in promoting the achievements of its members, many of whom are label converters, through its annual label competition, whose winning entries go forward for judging in the prestigious World Label Awards. Both competitions demonstrate the versatility, flexibility, and technical skills that print on to self-adhesive labelstock can deliver. One area where self-adhesive labels have, in recent years, proved particularly adept is in the creation of security labels to help brand owners to provide authentication data for their products, and foil the perpetrators of today’s huge global business in counterfeit goods and ‘grey market’ trading.

The world’s biggest brand

Global sales of fake goods are now estimated at $650bn per annum, making 'counterfeit’ the world’s biggest brand. As well as threatening the welfare of purchasers, fake goods negatively affect customer brand loyalty and, of course, the brand owner’s profitability.

A winning example

A fine example of an effective security logistics label from Schreiner Group’s ProTech division has been honoured in the 2013 World Label Awards competition. Proclaimed the winner in the technical category covering combination line print, the Schreiner security logistics label features a complex package of overt, covert, and digital security features. It demonstrates ‘best practice’ in leading-edge layered security solutions for high-value and sensitive goods -- in this case, critical OEM automotive spare parts – and it has already found commercial success for authenticating BMW spares.

Why use a label?

Labels are the preferred carrier of security features of all kinds, since they provide an accessible substrate which may be checked for authenticity in a number of ways. With self-adhesive labels in particular, the opportunities to build covert security features into or under the label face, or in the adhesive, are diverse.

Three levels of security

The three major areas of focus are the provision of devices for visual authentication (with the naked eye, or with a scanner of some kind); secure tracking systems (creating a continuum through the supply and distribution chain); and anti-counterfeiting technologies – often bespoke -- that are difficult, or impossible, to replicate. Such devices may be overt or covert, to provide the broadest possible umbrella of protection for everything from ethical pharmaceuticals to legal documents, designer handbags, automotive parts, prepared foods and their ingredients, toys, and computer software. They can involve the use of the label substrate itself (eg with security watermarks), inks and coatings, Data Matrix codes, holography, and even chemical taggants and microtaggants -- including DNA -- which are detectable only with dedicated specialist scanners.

The key to success in the real world

The Schreiner ProTech security logistic label’s specification brings together a complex cocktail of such features – some of which require professional authentication, and all of which need brand owner involvement in developing and using their company’s own security labelling system. As Thomas Völcker, Director, Business Development and Marketing at Schreiner ProSecure, explains: ‘Security is not just a matter of technology today. It’s a matter of educating the people who have to authenticate the product.’

Visible tamper evidence

Such education will begin with checking entry-level packaging features like security seals, which will readily provide tamper evidence without the use of any tools except the naked eye.

Covert features

At the second level of security, covert features are added to the Schreiner security logistics label via the printing process, including two- and three-dimensional demetallized holographic stripes which produce different (and identifiable) optical effects when they are viewed from different angles.


Security inks deliver additional features. Thermochromic inks, which change colour at different temperatures, fade to show a ‘genuine’ message when the labelled pack is at body temperature. UV luminescent inks produce a hidden text line and other marks when viewed under a black light. Additionally, a high-resolution random pattern, printed from an extra-high-resolution digital master, is printed on the label to enable authenticators to detect label copying. Anyone copying the pattern illegally will achieve less precision and technical detail in the image, since it is being copied from previous printed matter and not from the digital master. (It will in fact be slightly blurred). A simple scan with a handheld device or even a smartphone and will uncover this blurring and identify the fake.

Track-and-trace functionality

Finally, a unique track-and-trace security product batch code is added to verify the integrity of the logistics chain. As with all advanced authentication labelling solutions, customer-specific features can be added to order – and Schreiner ProSecure offers many additional options.

Foiling the fraudsters is now a major concern on high-value goods such as automotive spares, electronics, pharmaceuticals, and on wines and spirits. Multi-layer security labels from FINAT member companies such as Schreiner ProTech are contributing significantly to reducing the damage for both purchasers and brand owners.


Schreiner Group were also victorious in the Innovation category in the 2013 FINAT Label Competition with their Electric Conductive Films – produced using advanced printing and diecutting techniques, and used in electrical and electronic applications such as membrane touch switches and other conductive functions.