Combatting the rise of illicit trade with Pagemark Africa’s secure printing, authentication and serialization solutions
By Jessi Wesson, Editor Fastmoving - May 28th, 08:59
Counterfeiting has become a multi-billion-dollar criminal activity affecting almost every industry and South Africa is feeling the impact of these activities in the illicit economy as a large portion of its GDP is being lost every year. This includes the smuggling of tobacco products, counterfeit textiles, and drug manufacturing and smuggling.
Counterfeit goods are becoming difficult to spot and because consumer trust takes precedence in the retail industry, brands need to protect the integrity of their products and keep counterfeiters from affecting their bottom line. We chat to Kyle Parker, CEO at Mitas about the illicit economy in SA and how Pagemark Africa’s unique, secure printing solutions, product and document authentication, serialization solutions and track and trace software help to combat this.
FM: Why is Pagemark Africa the market leader and authority within the industry?
KP: Well the important part of this story is what Pagemark Africa (PMA) is based on. You see the solutions we offer in PMA are not just because of what PMA offers but has its roots in the solutions we have offered in South Africa now for 29 years. PMA just adds something special on top of what the MITAS group and its divisions have been doing for so many years and in so many industries. The true magic is what the group does as a whole and how we use the marking, identification and traceability aspects in the group in an overall band protection strategy. This makes PMA solution the absolute clear best choice for brands looking to fight the challenges they face in their industries.
FM: How does Pagemark’s technology help deter product diversion and counterfeiting?
KP: There are various levels of the solutions within PMA and the complimentary offerings of the Mitas Group. Some of the real magic is actually in what the unique Pelta codes on products do. To fight counterfeiting, fakes and illicit trade one needs to know as much about a product as possible. So the key is serialization to international standards as early in the manufacturing process as possible. Ne then uses the aggregation (parent/child) through to shipment ID and scanning of goods in the supply chain and through to the end user or consumer. A simple scan of a code can be very powerful in the data that the system gets back.
We are able through the technology to see where products are being scanned and if they are where they are supposed to be. We can also detect if the code is genuine or a copy, thus gathering data as to who in the supply chain is possibly involved in the illicit trade or in the copying of a product to produce fakes. When this is information is used to fight organized crime, the criminals move to easier unprotected products.
FM: Pelta™ is the new global standard for digital authentication. How does this technology operate and what authentication solutions does it help provide?
KP: While the Pelta code is a great weapon in protecting a brand and giving the brand owners a lot of very valuable information, it's not the holy grail of brand protection. Nothing is yet, however, it is a fundamental part of a solution that incorporates other brand protection parts that are in the Overt, Covert or Forensic levels of the program. The important first part though in a strategy is to have something visible and overt for somebody to scan it.
It is the first interaction a consumer or someone in the supply chain will have with the product. Its this first interaction with the product that has left the manufacturing facility that starts the breadcrumbs in the system as to what is going where. Combining some of these codes with further technologies and seeing the data on a global map starts gathering the data brand owners find incredibly interesting and valuable. The technology lies in a 128bit encrypted code hidden in the existing 2D code that is so incredibly secure that nobody would be able to crack in hundreds of years.
FM: How is Pagemark’s track and trace software implemented?
KP: Rather simply and easily I must say. So much of the solution exists in the backend for existing clients that the software can easily be put together for a client with just some of the custom production items, locations, SKU’s and logistic data plugged into the system and you can be operational pretty quick. One can then add other layers to the solution for the various stakeholders, for example, some data will go to marketing, some to finance, some to legal, maybe even law enforcement, etc. The software allows many stakeholders in an organisation to gather value from it so its more than brand protection but can be a massive advantage for the marketing team for example.
FM: How are Pelta™ codes printed?
KP: Another great aspect of the Pelta solution is that it can be used in existing production lines without any other new equipment. We have solutions that fit in right between a PC and a normal desktop printer, or they can be incorporated into high speed marking lines for FMCG. So basically any kind of printer, including lasers and inkjet printers on production lines can be made to print the Pelta codes. In addition, the codes can be printed in UV invisible inks, food grade inks, inks with DNA taggants in them and so much more.
FM: What are the benefits of using Pagemark’s turnkey tax stamp and licensing solutions?
KP: One of the biggest benefits is the speed of deployment and the overall cost. Being able to deeply the solution using existing equipment keeps the cost of implementation low and allows us to put the system in operation quite quickly. The licencing and registration solution, for example, is one that shows incredibly fast returns on the investment.
When one looks at the low cost of implementation and the speed of implementation the value can be seen right away and in many cases, the ROI is far less than many would believe. One of the other big factors of the solutions is accountability and visibility. These factors ensure compliance and faster adoption as weak links or potential threats to the system are uncovered early in the implementation phase. The biggest factor though would be the ROI on a very simple and easy system to deploy and use.
FM: What pharmaceutical serialization solutions does Pagemark provide?
KP: We have a number of solutions for just about every industry from hair straighteners to ballot papers, to gold bars and Licencing and university certificates. However, it’s the technology used in pharmaceutical that gives me the greatest pleasure as it the one that fights the scourge of fakes and counterfeits that impacts the lives of the nora citizens.
Being able to allow a mother to scan a code on a product she is about to purchase for her very sick child and know this medication will be able to cure her child is what makes me happy to have a solution like this in our portfolio. Technology and advancements in medicine make us live longer and healthier lives, as long as these medicines are legitimate. When fakes and counterfeits cause so many deaths in our children across the world this is, in my opinion, tantamount to murder….because it just is when criminals make fake drugs that are meant in the real products to save lives.
FM: What are the 10 most counterfeited goods in the industry?
KP: These days there is such a wide range of products that are fake and counterfeit, but there is definitely a shift from the traditional counterfeits and fakes such as DVD’s, CD’s, Luxury fashion accessories such as handbags, designer sunglasses, fake watches, and the likes. These days the fakes have come in strong over a wide range of items such as food, FMCG products like bottled water, spices, washing detergents, and even toilet paper.
While many of the products would not cause that much of a health issue in the past, the recent fake goods that are things we put into our bodies, the scary thing is what we are consuming that will make us ill, then to go for medication to make us better and this then too is fake then we are really playing Russian roulette almost daily. Still, the counterfeited goods also include other safety concerns for us such as automotive parts, alcohol and more. These days there is almost anything and everything that is fake. So how do we fight this? Well, we have to use technology to give us much more information about a product before we buy it or consume it.
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In the pharmaceutical manufacturing environment, it is absolutely critical to managing environmental conditions. Currently, this is done either manually or with bespoke solutions that have been very expensive and intrusive. Additionally, the mechanical equipment that is currently used, requires annual maintenance and calibration. This process is very expensive and resource intensive.
Pharmaceutical counterfeiting is putting millions of lives at risk each year, and governments around the world are taking action to address this growing problem. For many, the principal weapon in that fight is track and trace regulations centered on product serialization – assigning and affixing a unique number to products and tracking them throughout the supply chain.