Ten years in the making, the WaveSafeTM RFID tag has been engineered to be able to withstand up to five minutes of cooking in a 950-watt microwave. This time was stipulated by supermarkets, after extensive consultation, as it accommodates the vast majority of microwaveable food products - so enabling them to be included in intelligent labelling rollouts.
While RFID has been around for many years, it has been held back from a mainstream breakthrough due to the inability of manufacturers and retailers to apply the tags to microwaveable products, due to the risk of sparking. This risk has now been removed by WaveSafeTM , and is allowing traditional brick-and-mortar stores to enable greater efficiencies for in-store staff and reduce wastage - through more accurate and sophisticated supply chain intelligence and in-store inventory management - and create a more frictionless shopping experience for customers thanks to features such as dynamic pricing, special offers, and faster self-checkout.
WaveSafeTM was recognised for its deployment as part of a Japanese government initiative to enable every one of the country’s 55,000 convenience and drug stores to eventually become unmanned. The initiative, led by METI (the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry), aims to help mitigate the impact on the retail sector of the growing labour force crisis arising from the country’s ageing population (expected to fall to just 88 million people in 2065, from 125 million in 2000).
The initiative from METI has shown the benefits that WaveSafeTM, and wider RFID tag implementation, can bring to the retail industry by reducing the need to have multiple staff at stores and allowing other workers to focus on more customer-facing tasks. METI has estimated that 100 billion items pass through convenience stores each year, which can now all be accurately tracked using WaveSafeTM.
To receive the recognition of a widely-respected conference such as IOTE for the work that Avery Dennison has put into solving this problem for RFID chips is hugely gratifying. Meanwhile, the work with METI has shown that it has had a major impact that can be replicated by other retailers across the world. This tiny component has the potential to have a huge long-term economic benefits - contributing significantly not only to the business and consumer experience of food retail, but also to addressing major macroeconomic issues relating to automation and the labor force.