The future of RFID labels for an ever-changing world

Pressure-sensitive RFID smart labels

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RFID
Mark Andy offers presses enabling label production on webs containing tags, opening completely new opportunities for manufacturers and printers

The use of radio frequency identification technology (RFID) isn’t new – sectors from stores and warehouses to casinos, the government, and even farms have been using it for some time – but it is more and more present in our everyday lives. However, the implementation of this smart label across all industries and supply chains has seen drastic increases.

Ten years ago, consumers were just starting to consume more media via their smartphones, but we could have never predicted that it would become the norm rather than the exception. Though more specialized in nature, converters may consider taking a closer look at packaging innovations not only as they emerge, but as they evolve. So what’s the future of this smart label application, and in which direction can we except RFID labels to go? As a manufacturer of technology that enables RFID labels, we have an idea of what our customers can expect.

The basis of RFID technology is essentially the reading and sending of data. This process is capable due to the electronic charging of chips containing the aforementioned data. The labels themselves are known as a carrier (called also a tag) of a chip inside – which is the inlay placed inside of the label during production. We know that RFID is used in many fields of life, but Mark Andy’s Lukasz Chruslinski has more to add, “The companies who decided to implement this technology several years ago went beyond what we consider the typical use of RFID labels. Every year Mark Andy delivers several presses using RFID to the printers from the whole world, and we are constantly learning new, and sometimes proprietary uses for the application.” Chruslinski also notes, “Industry 4.0, Internet of Things (IoT) are no more modern phrases from a futuristic movie, but a reality based on wireless network-based communication and human/machine interaction. Production and industry, logistics and storage, construction, parking systems, contactless payments – RFID technology is present in all these areas.”

Most commonly, RFID is used in the retail industry providing security and theft prevention solutions for end-users. Chruslinski elaborates, “Retail companies, large and small from all the world, have benefited from this technology for many years. It is used it in terms of inventory control, but also safety against stealing and first of all – easier handling of customers. In Poland, some of them (including a very well-known company offering sports range) also use this innovative solution. Moreover, some of them are just testing it, in terms of electronic price lists. What we are now starting to see more of is the use of RFID labels in unattended shops. What’s even more interesting is after the latest months and totally new experiences brought by a global pandemic, RFID is being considered even more intensively to limit human-to-human interaction. Shopping, using a smartphone (informing about missing products in a customer’s fridge) and an RFID-based system reading and summarizing all that we buy, is no more a dream but a reality. We observe more difficult access to a worker, his costs become higher and we must consider totally new needs (as pandemic showed us) which include limitations in touching common parts and areas such as self-service check-outs. Therefore, future-oriented manufacturers who look very closely at today’s reality should consider implementing RFID technology as one of the available options for labels and packaging for their end-users.”

RFID tags, known also as transponders or microchips, are small data carriers of different shapes and dimensions. They enable writing, storing, and reading information. “Tags, containing information expected by the manufacturer and customized according to customer’s needs, will be a crucial part of the future label,” says Chruslinski. Chips or memory microprocessors store information coded in a tag. Special antennas are responsible for emitting and receiving a radio signal. Its coverage can have different shapes, obviously including labels. Mark Andy offers presses enabling label production on webs containing tags, opening completely new opportunities for manufacturers and printers.

RFID is already being used as an innovative solution for asset tracking across many different industries. And with the ‘new normal’ yet to be established, it is likely the use of RFID technology will continue to expand amongst all verticals in the not too distant future. Chruslinski concludes, “Brand owners try to deliver their customers the shortest access to information and the quickest and the simplest service possible. Label producers have to follow the same direction. Therefore, we recommend all converters to take a closer look at RFID technology and the presses that enable implementing it in daily production.”

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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