Founded in 1961 as Tecno Tubo Torino (Turin Tube Technology), 3T has long had a strong reputation for lightweight racing cycle components favored by many world champion cyclists. 3T’s founder, Mario Dedioniggi was skilled at manipulating and bending steel tubes to fabricate the lightweight handlebars preferred by racing cyclists. The company soon became renowned for innovation and quality. By the mid-1980’s, 3T was the world’s leader in quality handlebar manufacturing, exporting 80% of its production to Europe, the United States, and Japan. 3T products continue to embody success as their products have been used by recent winners of the Euro MTB championship, Ironman World Championship, the Olympics, and Tour de France.
Such accolades can attract negative attention. As counterfeit and grey-market products began to enter their supply chain, 3T started hearing from consumers unknowingly buying fake 3T parts until it was too late. To prevent consumers from further falling victim to counterfeits, 3T reached out to OpSec in hope of a solution.
3T engaged OpSec Security to help them achieve four specific goals:
- Combat counterfeiting of bicycle components
- Ensure that only authentic products would be sold by suppliers
- Better manage warranty claims through suppliers for substandard product
- Track their products by linking secure Unique Identifiers (UIDs) with Stock Keeping Units (SKUs), along with item description and sales order number
OpSec designed a solution to address 3T’s challenges. By using OpSec’s anti-counterfeit technology, 3T could quickly verify authentic products from fake products, track items at any given moment, and implement advanced optical technology into their business.
Every 3T part in the program is secured through a custom-made pressure-sensitive label manufactured by OpSec. Its high security premises are certified to both ISO9001 and ISO14298, the international standards for quality and security.
Each label is hot stamped with an OVD (optically variable device) in the form of a holographic stripe, originated using advanced electro-beam technology.
The optical features embedded within the OVD incorporate advanced overt and covert security technologies. Overt features can be seen with the naked eye, allowing for quick verification of product authenticity by all parties along the supply chain, while covert features provide an advanced level of security, and are revealed only to field investigators and enforcement officials. The multi-layer strategy allows covert security features to be disclosed only to relevant parties.
Serialization and Order Tracking
The next-generation solution utilizes OpSec’s proprietary product lifecycle management platform, Insight™ to generate digital files of UIDs that are transmitted to 3T’s suppliers. The suppliers utilize the files to laser etch UIDs directly onto component parts they manufacture. Suppliers then ship component parts to 3T’s distribution centers, where the components are repackaged appropriately, and the holographic label applied for increased visibility.
All order and shipment data is then entered into a secure online database. 3T employees can access the recorded data to trace the territory, supplier, shipment date, and other relevant information.
The final piece of the solution was the OpSec Insight module. The adoption of this platform brought safety to 3T’s customers. The capability to track inventory within their supply chain at any time gave 3T consumers the peace of mind and knowledge that their purchase was authentic. OpSec Insight can additionally register their product for an extended warranty program, as well as receive a discount code for replacement purchases.
With visibility previously unavailable to them, 3T now had more access to intelligence and contact data. This allowed the 3T marketing team to increase engagement with their customers, and to get a better, more complete picture.
The problem of counterfeit parts is a threat unlikely to disappear anytime soon. The threat remains a risk for both manufacturers and consumers alike. By tightening the supply chain and providing optical and digital authentication solutions, manufacturers can reduce the risk significantly by removing potentially dangerous, but certainly substandard, counterfeits from the marketplace.
The four-part solution utilized by the 3T has ensured that:
- Genuine 3T parts selected for the program can now be authenticated at overt, covert, and forensic levels.
- Unique serial numbers embedded within each security label can be authenticated through OpSec’s Insight platform.
- 3T can track each delivery of security labels to its supplier network and utilize the OpSec Insight reporting functionality to gain additional analytics.
- Customers can extend their warranty period by registering their authentic products online