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Article | February 1, 2009
RFID smart boxes
The idea of an RFID-enabled “smart box” has been tested by several vendors of corrugated materials, including Domino Integrated Solutions Group (DISG, www.domino-isg.com) with its award-winning HIDE-Pack™ smart box.
I viewed the HIDE-Pack at EPC Connection in October and left with a favorable impression that was reinforced during a December Webinar. HIDE-Pack consists of an RFID inlay embedded within the structure of a package, corrugated case, or folding carton during box manufacturing. Sandwiched within the manufacturer’s glue joint and encapsulated in a dab of adhesive, the inlay becomes an integral part of the packaging. It’s also protected from moisture and cold storage, as well as from bumps along the supply chain. HIDE-Pack won Top Innovator from the Assn. of Independent Corrugated Converters (AICC) in fall 2008. The consumer packaged goods company or other end user is not required to operate an RFID-encoding print-and-apply system. Instead, HIDE-Pack uses an RFID encoder and verifier and eliminates smart labels. Customers can use an ink-jet coder to apply the needed human-readable information to the outside of the case. That’s according to DISG’s Teresa Williams, who says it’s a win-win for both CPG companies and box manufacturers. “For CPG companies, it’s a process pushed back to the corrugator, and the corrugator can expand their product lines,” she says.DISG states that it reduces RFID label costs by least 30% by shrinking the form factor from a box label to an inlay priced at eight cents apiece. DISG estimates the costs for a startup RFID line for a CPG company drops from around $400,000 to $100,000. Additionally, consumables costs versus smart labels are cut by $60,000 yearly for 1 million RFID tags. A box manufacturer that has been using the HIDE-Pack is the Krupack Packaging (www.krupack.com) division of Kruger. John O’Hara, vice president of Business Logistics for Kruger, says, “Using the HIDE-Pack technology enables faster implementation and minimizes the capital required to ship EPC-compliant cases.” Paul de Blois, HIDE-Pack vice president and general manager, says that corrugator speeds represent a challenge, but confirms the inlays are embedded and encoded at a rate of five per second. “There’s an interest from those who like the idea of not having an RFID label application system,” he says. “It removes a [potential] headache from their production lines.” He notes that pilot sites have turned into customers.
The technology also passes the all-important sustainability test so crucial in today’s environment: After use, the box—inlay and all—is still 100% recyclable, DISG reports.
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