If you’ve ever seen someone walk out of a store with their goods only to be stopped by an alarm, then you’ve witnessed EAS, or Electronic Article Surveillance in action. EAS allows for the shoplifting of goods to be prevented in all manner of stores around the world.
EAS’s inception was during the 1970s, when clothing retailers wanted to protect their merchandise. The type of protection then were the formidable plastic security labels, which provided visibility in addition to a forbidding appearance. So not only were the tags able to be clearly seen by everyone in the store, and so easily identified if removed, but thieves were aware or this. In addition, their bulky appearance made them look very difficult to remove.
The difficulty of removal of these tags was indeed accurate; only a special machine located behind the check-out counter was capable of removing the tags without damaging the apparel to which they were affixed.
Ink and Sensor Pins and Tags
Ink tags and pins will display tampering by leaking ink. But how is this an EAS solution? They can be used in conjunction with sensor security labels to add a second layer of protection. But it isn’t only soft items like clothing that can be protected with this type of tag; sensor tags can also be used to protect bottles, jewellery and electronics.
Source tagging is a concept which allows for both time and money to be saved. A security label is attached by the product manufacturer or packaging personnel to products prior to shipping them to stores. This benefits both the store owner and the manufacturer, because both sides can see the product’s journey from beginning to end, as well as being able to see whether items have been tampered with during the trip. For clothing, these source tags can be sewn right into the garment so that they’re out of sight.
Source tagging offers manufacturers a way to secure their items without the high cost that other forms of EAS can incur.
The recirculation of sensor tags is a concept that is very popular today. Clothing manufacturers need only affix any reusable tag on clothing in the factory. Doing so at this level ensures that clothing is immediately ready to sell once it arrives at its retail destination. Tags are removed at the point of sale, collected by a service and then repackaged at a processing centre before being sent back to clothing manufacturers to be reused.
The Future of EAS?
In addition to EAS, RFID is offering much in the way of protection for all manner of items. RFID tags can be only a few millimetres in size, making them extremely easy to conceal. This type of tag transmits information about a product over a wireless network, allowing for the tracking of items to take place effortlessly. RFID security labels are being chosen to replace the very common bar code system used in many factory settings. Because, unlike bar codes, RFID tags can still be read even if they are not completely visible.
It is for these and many other reasons that the future of theft prevention could see electronic article surveillance and RFID technologies being combined to provide a single source for the accurate, efficient and secure tracking of all manner of products. As well, this combined technology could have several benefits for other warehouse processes such as conducting inventory audits and maintaining levels of inventory. When combined with the power to prevent the theft of merchandise and the many other benefits of both technologies, a combination would certainly offer retailers far more protection than the independent technologies available today.