Bosch Software Innovations recently introduced the Secure Product Fingerprint, a new anti-counterfeiting solution. It provides two distinct ways of ensuring product authenticity. First, there is the Artificial Fingerprint – a QR code enhanced by embedded micro-features. The second option is the Natural Fingerprint, in which the surface of the product itself is used for validation.
What is more, the Secure Product Fingerprint opens up opportunities that go beyond combating counterfeits. In particular, it can be used for product tracking and enhancing customer relationship management (CRM).
What does it mean to put this solution into practice? To give you a better understanding, we talked to two manufacturers who are already implementing it.
Ensuring product authenticity in an industrial context
Products and parts used in an industrial context, such as advanced hydraulics or automation, are traditionally attractive to counterfeiters. For producers of original equipment this is a major challenge: Customers can quickly lose trust in a brand because of a bad experience with fake products. A decrease in market share is the logical consequence.
Bosch Rexroth is one of the leading specialists in drive and control technologies. It manufactures products and systems associated with the control and motion of industrial and mobile equipment. Faced with the task of protecting its customers from counterfeits, Bosch Rexroth China decided to make use of the Secure Product Fingerprint for two of its products. For one, the company uses the Artificial Fingerprint QR code labels to mark valves that are produced at its plant in Wujin. Meanwhile, at its plant in Beijing, Bosch Rexroth China is trying out the Natural Fingerprint. There, they are scanning a designated surface area of industrial pumps. The digital image of this scanned area is used for validation when the product reaches the end user.
How the Secure Product Fingerprint works
The Secure Product Fingerprint is a patented solution developed by the Bosch Corporate Research team in China. It provides two ways of ensuring product authenticity. One is the Artificial Fingerprint, a QR code with embedded micro-features that are hard to copy. The second is the Natural Fingerprint, in which small variations on a product’s surface form the basis for validation. During production, a photo of a specific area on the product is taken, which is later cross-referenced to a photo taken by the end user. To validate products using the Secure Product Fingerprint, end users only need a smartphone.Learn more about the Secure Product Fingerprint
What drew Bosch Rexroth China to using the Secure Product Fingerprint? Shunan Cao is Sales Coordination Manager at the company. He explains: “We’ve been lacking a solution to separate genuine from fake products for a long time. Two aspects make the Secure Product Fingerprint an attractive solution for us. First of all, it’s easy to use and can be implemented quickly. The second factor is the reasonable costs – especially with regard to the enhanced QR code labels.”
The track & trace functionality of the Secure Product Fingerprint is also an interesting proposition for Bosch Rexroth China. “Leveraging data insights plays an important role for us – for example, to determine the future demand of our customers,” Cao says. “We rely heavily on our installed base – especially when it comes to retrofitting solutions or providing additional services. However, we sell many products through distributors and not directly to customers. Using the track & trace functionality of the Secure Product Fingerprint would allow us to gain valuable information about the end users of our products – for example, in which regions they are located.” Bosch Rexroth China is currently evaluating and testing the track & trace functionality to determine its full potential.
Using the Secure Product Fingerprint to improve customer relationships
The Secure Product Fingerprint can also be used to improve a company’s relationship with its customers. Take Bosch Smart Life Technology in China as an example. This is a startup organization within Bosch China which offers consumer electronics, intelligent hardware and medical devices. Among other things, the company produces smart door locks. “In our market the after-sales experience is very important,” says Alex Xu, Product Owner of smart locks at Bosch Smart Life Technology.
Nevertheless, Bosch Smart Life Technology does not sell directly to their customers; they rely on partners. To bridge the gap to their customers, Bosch Smart Life Technology has now turned toward the Artificial Fingerprint solution. By sticking the enhanced QR code labels on the smart locks, it not only becomes easier for end users to distinguish between genuine and counterfeit products, but as Xu notes: “When a customer scans the QR code, an immediate connection is established. We can then inform them directly about other products or services related to the lock.”
The Artificial Fingerprint also comes in handy in regard to the product’s warranty. Xu explains: “A customer can now confirm that he or she bought the original product simply by scanning the QR code. Since their information is stored in the cloud, they can easily prove that they are eligible to receive warranty services. They no longer have to go looking for the invoice to prove that they bought the product.”
Stay in the loop
The Secure Product Fingerprint solution by Bosch Software Innovations is currently available in China. The Artificial Fingerprint solution is ready for commercial use from the first quarter of 2019. The commercial availability of the Natural Fingerprint is planned for the second quarter of 2019. Want to know more about this solution?