GMC Bogendruck

Gray market control – serialize effectively with Atlantic Zeiser’s GMC Pro

Serialization has proven to be an effective way to combat the gray market. But it is only effective if it is done carefully. The combination of highly modern digital printing solutions with well thought-out workflows for clear product labeling has proven successful in practice. For this purpose, Atlantic Zeiser, the leading provider of digital printing solutions, has developed the GMC Pro (Gray Market Controller). In this part of our series of news articles on the subject of the gray market, we will look at what exactly is behind this innovative solution.

Digital printing has shown to be particularly suitable for marking and serializing products or packaging thanks to its high throughput, reliability and accuracy. When it comes to attaching unique identifiers such as serial numbers, in the form of barcodes, QR codes or other tracking solution, digital printing offers several advantages:

•    Variable data printing (VDP): 
Variable data for serialization, where each product requires a unique identifier, can be easily processed. Within a single print run, VDP can seamlessly print different serial numbers or information on each product, packaging, or label.

•    Flexibility: 
Unique serial numbers or other identifiers can be printed directly on items, packaging or tags. This allows for quick and easy adjustments, such as changes in the serialization requirements or in the product packaging.

•    High print quality: 
Digital printing's high resolution ensures sharp and clear rendering of even the tiniest details and contours. Smaller machine-readable codes can be printed, without compromising readability and scannability throughout the supply chain. This facilitates the code integration onto smaller packaging, preserving wider surface for branding while streamlining traceability.

•    Closed loop control: 
From code generation to printing and inspection, the process is in a closed-loop. This ensures data integrity and eliminates the risk of duplicate numbers.

•    Expandability: 
Serialization data can be supplemented with additional variable information, such as manufacturing dates or batch numbers, to provide complete product details.

•    Economic efficiency for small runs: 
Digital printing is cost-effective even for smaller production runs, accommodating manufacturers with varying product volumes.

The GMC Pro – a proven system to control the gray market

While digital printing is an important component, companies need to consider additional aspects to effectively implement serialization. These include developing and managing secure databases, ensuring data integrity and unicity, and implementing and using transparent processes to verify and track products throughout the supply chain. With the GMC Pro, Atlantic Zeiser has developed a system for converters to generate and print codes on behalf of brand owners. These codes can be used for supply chain tracking.

The heart of the system is Atlantic Zeiser Trust Center, which generates, stores and distributes the codes, and monitors their usage. How it works: The product codes are set via the Trust Center. These are only sent to the selected Atlantic Zeiser printing systems to ensure a direct link between the generated code and the respective print head. The exchange of sensitive data between the Trust Center and the GMC Pro printing system is highly encrypted. This allows distributing jobs for a given product across several converters and printing sites. The Trust Center not only generates the codes, but also forms a closed system that monitors printing and verification:

Brand owners can check the validation database at any time via the Trust Center. The process between printers and brand owners also runs through the Trust Center: When a packaging printer receives an order to serialize a particular batch of packaging, it asks the Trust Center to assign the corresponding code. The Trust Center sends a confirmation request to the brand owner. Once this is available, the Trust Center sends an encrypted validation code to the printer. Printing can start once the validation is entered correctly.

Code activation

The Trust Center enables code activation on the packing line during the production aggregation process, simplifying the complexity of serialization for the brand owner.

Printed codes with GMC Pro: Secure and readable

Atlantic Zeiser's GMC Pro is equipped with OMEGA ProFlo printing system, which ensures high-resolution and fast printing with high-coverage UV inks. With 600 dpi print quality and a deep black opacity, the printed codes are not only 100% secure, but also easy to read – regardless of whether they are alphanumeric characters, QR codes or barcodes. Each product or packaging is clearly marked and cannot be altered or tampered. This allows for reliable product identification and tracking.

Serialized packaging

Whether alphanumeric characters, barcodes, Datamatrix or QR codes – with the complete GMC Pro system, codes are printed in a forgery-proof manner.

Consistent high quality through inspection

The GMC Pro also ensures reliable quality control: the integrated VERICAM Pro inspection system guarantees the readability, positioning and alignment of the codes. In the event of printing errors or inaccuracies in serialization data, the incorrectly marked products are automatically rejected from production, preventing them from entering the supply chain. Quality control provides real-time monitoring and detailed documentation metrics for brand owners.

The bottom line: Product serialization is critical for industries that value traceability and regulatory compliance. In addition to industries in luxury goods such as perfumes or watches, serialization is also increasingly important for other industries such as wine, jewelry, fashion, consumer electronics or the automotive industry. However, serialization is effective against gray market actors only if it is done professionally. With Atlantic Zeiser 's holistic GMC Pro printing system, brand owners are on the safe side and can protect their brand integrity and the trust of their consumers. Learn more about the GMC Pro here.

The future of barcoding: GS1 Sunrise and the shift to 2D Codes Original products, unofficial channels: How serialization helps tackle the “gray market” problem