Seizing the market opportunity
The first step toward growing your business by offering intelligent labels is to become more knowledgeable about the basics of RFID and the value it can provide. Label converters and service bureaus do not need to be experts in the technology or its application, but sales staff need to be able to speak intelligently to customers about the difference between Near-field communication (NFC) and passive RAIN RFID (UHF), about inlays that will work on different products and environments and about the range of label options for each individual use case. Manufacturing teams need to develop skills in converting regular labels into intelligent labels. They need to understand the different substrates available for inlays, how different antenna shapes perform in different applications, and other factors that relate to how customers use intelligent labels in their operations. Resources available to educate sales and manufacturing staff are listed at the end of the white paper Avery Dennison is providing for download.
Scalable manufacturing technology investment
High-end RFID inlay insertion equipment can be expensive, but label converters and service bureaus can get into the RFID market without investing hundreds of thousands of dollars. For small to midsize volumes, they can use Avery Dennison’s “wet” RFID inlay delivery format (one side with adhesive) in a traditional label application process to produce intelligent labels. This low-cost approach is ideal for jobs that don’t require a high level of label customization. For mid- to high-volume orders, converters and service bureaus can purchase dry inlays from Avery Dennison and use an on-pitch inlay form and a lamination/multi up converting process. This allows for a custom face stock but requires a servo press.
Choosing an inlay provider
The key to developing a successful intelligent labels business is choosing the right inlay supplier. An inlay is the RFID transponder embedded or inserted in the label structure, thus making it an intelligent label. There are several key factors you should consider when choosing a provider:
You will need to choose a supplier that has a broad product portfolio so that you can provide intelligent labels that will work on a wide variety of products and items. We provide not just passive HF, NFC and RAIN RFID (UHF) inlays, but also an array of sizes, shapes, materials, adhesives and other features to meet even very challenging and unique labelling needs. As you can see in our Product Finder we offer the broadest array of inlays in the market and it is well protected by more than 1,750 patents and patent applications worldwide.
Just as important as a strong product portfolio is quality. Sometimes a small fraction of RFID inlays in a production run can have a shorter read range or be completely non-functional due to a defective chip or other issue. It’s important that these are not converted into labels and delivered to brands and enterprise customers. We have extensive quality control processes in place at each stage of the production process, in order to ensure premium quality products. We not only mark defective inlays, as most other inlay providers do, but we can inactivate the chip so the inlay will not work and cannot be used unintentionally. To underpin our commitment to premium quality we work closely with Auburn University RFID Lab and are the only company globally to be awarded with the ARC Accreditation for Quality.
Choosing a suitable RFID inlay for a specific label and item to be labeled is crucial and sometimes more complex than anticipated. It’s important for you to work with a supplier that can provide comprehensive advice about options to use and the proper placement of the finished label on the item.
If required, we will take item samples to our test labs, simulate the environment of the planned deployment, conduct a professional analysis and recommend a product option and label positioning. Also, our design facilities can develop custom inlays for very specific requirements.
It’s important to be able to get sample inlays quickly so that you can provide samples to your customers, as they begin exploring whether RFID will work for their needs. We can provide samples of many products within 24 hours.
It’s also crucial to choose a supplier that has the manufacturing capacity to deliver the inlays you need in a timely and reliable manner. We have continually invested in expanding our production capacity to more than 10 billion units annually across seven manufacturing facilities, backed up by distribution centers around the world to be able to deliver inlays when and where they are needed.
Governments, businesses and consumers are increasingly preferring suppliers that reduce their carbon footprint and the amount of waste going into landfill, especially plastic and waste that can leach harmful substances into soil and groundwater. With our Sustainable Tags we replace polyethylene terephthalate (PET) with a paper substrate, reducing the contamination of recycled paper with plastics. For our aluminum antennas we use precision-laser cutting, effectively eliminating etching chemicals, further reducing our carbon footprint and enabling the complete recycling of cutting residues.