The Various Types Of Product Identification Labels

By Helga Stokes

Product identification is a broad class of labeling that encompasses functions like traceability, the inclusion of variable information and brand protection. In the face of an ever-evolving business environment, product identification labels are vital. They are also necessary to negate threats posed by pilferage and counterfeit merchandise.

Traceability offers the ability to track items throughout the entire manufacturing process and to the consumers. In an ideal system, an item in the consumer's hands can be traced backwards through various processes such that the supplies of ingredients can be identified. Traceability labels help improve quality by identifying sources of problems in case there's a recall. This requires tags that incorporate an ID number or bar code.

There are several types of barcodes used today. These are aluminum, ceramic and polyester barcode markers. These come in various customizable sizes and shapes. They also come with various adhesive backings. This system has several advantages. They help humans and machines identify various items. Prices and relevant information can also be stored in these codes to ease the selling process and save time. Other benefits include speed, accuracy, economy and consistency.

Vinyl and polyester markers can be made using special printers. These are ideal for tracking items where security is not a top priority. In some situations, special tags are used to adhere to industry-specific identification needs. For instance, detectable tags are used in the food processing sector where contaminants need to be identified fast. If tiny parts of the tag get into the product or if it gets misapplied/damaged, it is easy to discover.

In some manufacturing processes, temporary tags are used. There are special magnetic and repositionable markers which meet such needs. These can be used as required and then removed with ease.

However, such types of markers can easily be counterfeited or removed. Different types of tags are therefore used where brand reputation needs to be maintained. They are also used for high-value items which can be counterfeited or stolen. There are some custom stickers which include a watermark that's only visible under UV light. This makes the tags harder to duplicate.

Other kinds of tags make it hard to recycle or remove them. If handwritten information needs to be included securely on a tag, you can find special tapes for this purpose. The data is normally embossed in a way that makes erasing or altering difficult.

Variable information tags are used to provide additional details such as information on manufacture and expiry dates, lot numbers, batch ID codes and manufacturing location. This information could be in the form of numbers and text, bar codes or both. These tags may also act as traceability labels.

When there's need to withstand harsh conditions, there are special tags which are specifically used to label durable goods. Metallized poly tapes are normally used because they're easy to make and provide a brushed metal appearance. These can be found in gold, silver and aluminum. Other tags are designed to survive harsh chemical environments such as machines which are frequently washed-down. To secure these product identification labels, strong adhesives that stock to fabric, wood and other surfaces are normally used.

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