What are paper labels and soft tags?
Tags and labels attached to products and used with electronic article surveillance systems and thus detected by antennas as well as safers, are either deactivated or removed, whether it is a disposable soft label or a hard tag, by the cashiers after payment has been rendered, using the tools specifically designed for this purpose. Once they are removed, the EAS, if installed at a proper distance from the cashier, will not activate an alarm signal. However, if the tags or labels are not removed or deactivated and, upon leaving the store, they get close enough to the EAS still fixed on the product, the antenna will detect the device within its range and alert staff to the attempted theft with a sound and light signal. This allows the staff or security guard of the shop to take immediate action.
Labels come in a variety of forms and sizes, and ensure a highly efficient solution for protecting goods. Their small size and seemingly insignificant appearance may be misleading. If positioned well, they can reliably prevent shoplifting. Labels – typically electronic – fastened to goods for protection are often disguised as simple labels in apparel. The EAS antennas detect the signal emitted by the unremoved or still activated labels. Therefore, cashiers need to remove them or deactivate them when the goods are purchased. In the case of some labels, cashiers do not even have to unpack the products or spend time looking for them and removing them; however, they must be deactivated in all cases – either manually or automatically – with a deactivator, generally built in the check-out counter. This is a quick and simple operation but extremely important, as labels not yet deactivated will generate an alarm when passing through the EAS antennas.
Labels and soft tags may be disposable or reusable in combination with various security systems. Labels applied with electromagnetic systems are usually made of soft metals that can be magnetised. When passing through the gates, the signalling device on the activated labels disturbs the radio waves between the antennas and induces an alarm. The advantage of these labels is that it is easy to conceal them and they may be used with metal objects as well. Their disadvantage is that shoplifters may deactivate them by using strong magnets, as they are quite sensitive to magnetic fields. These labels are excellent to protect books from thefts.
Labels used with acoustic-magnetic (AM) systems are made of material that can convert a magnetic force into vibration, which makes them re-magnetised and send a signal to the receiving antenna. As a result, an alarm will be induced. The label is activated through magnetising, thus it reacts more strongly to the signals of detectors. Although this label is thicker than the one used with EM systems, it is quite popular due to it is affordability and it is also more accurate, resulting in fewer false alarms and more reliable operation even from a greater distance. The disadvantage of such labels is that it does not operate on goods that can be magnetised (iron, steel) and is quite easy to spot due to its thickness. The labels are also quite easy to remove and even a small scratch hinders its operation.
Radio frequency systems (RF) are simple to maintain and cheap to operate. The technology is based on the principle of a resonant circuit, which is the label itself. The label stores external energy which causes the system to vibrate and this is what the antennas detect. These labels are flat and can be easily concealed. They are ideal for bookshops or food stores. However, the device is unreliable with metal or metal-covered products and may generate a false alarm if there are similar systems installed close by.
RFID systems are capable of the same operation and use a principle similar to RF or EM systems, but its essential feature is that each signalling device emits a unique signal that does not only alert to attempted theft, but also indicates the product being stolen.
Various systems and devices are available to prevent shoplifting. Although they have different functions, they significantly reduce the occurrence of theft.
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