Security needs in a digital age

With each passing year, marking and coding technology used in the packaging field has grown more digital in nature. What that means fundamentally is replacing a physical object—metal or rubber type, a printing plate, a printing matte—with a print "head" or "engine" or "cartridge" that responds to computer-driven software to imprint whatever message is called for.

One changes the message electronically, at a touchscreen usually, as opposed to mechanically. And thanks to the wonders of information technology, the change can be initiated in an office several states away just as easily as it can on the plant floor.

Security considerations

Benefits gained as packagers have moved in this digital direction include flexibility, speed to market, coding consistency, and fast changeover. But at the Digital Package Printing Conference and Exhibition organized recently in Puerto Rico by Hewlett-Packard, I was reminded that packaged goods companies that have gone or are thinking about going digital should not forget to think about security, too. Why? Because the operating system that drives digital printing is by its very nature capable of being accessed and changed—either maliciously or accidentally. So if digital marking or coding is in your plant or in your future, ask about security shells, restricted access, electronic signatures, and other security measures now being developed by suppliers who populate the digital printing arena.

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