Security has taken on a very different meaning since the tragic events of two years ago. Techniques developed for brand protection, product authentication and logistics have been used to counteract problems
Labelexpo proved a fertile area for information and later this month PISEC 03 will be dedicated to security issues. What is claimed to be the leading international conference and exhibition for the brand protection, product authentication and document security industries takes place in Prague on October 20-22. To illustrate what’s possible, Event Advantage Solutions has partnered with the Tarsus Group to run RFID registration for PISEC 03,
RFID reading gates positioned at selected entrances and exits will detect the chip inside the badge when each visitor enters or exits a room and relay that information to the main database. Real-time reporting is available to the organizer at the event, detailing exactly which delegates are in each of the sessions. Data gathered is later used to identify which were popular for which kinds of delegates, as well as average time spent in each of the tracked areas.
Jeremy Plimmer, PISEC chairman, says: “The advances in, and importance of, RFID and electronic tagging have increased dramatically over the last few years. Showing RFID working at PISEC 03 will bring the technology to life.”
Bar codes and magnetic stripes have changed our world. “Just imagine your every-day life without parking tickets, scanner cash registers, price labels, and credit cards,” suggests Melzer. Though such data carriers also have their disadvantages, they are indispensable for our daily life. “If, however, one was able to produce a paper in which variable electronic information was integrated, this would mean a revolutionary development in the world of data carriers.
“Electronic paper has already become reality. Inspired by the contactless plastics card industry, big silicon suppliers have made their ICs so thin and small that, connected to a flat antenna, you have a transponder. Even printed batteries have been developed, making active transponders (in or on paper) possible in the short term.
In many countries projects based on the use of paper RFID cards or labels have been launched in such applications as library books, tracking and tracing in archives, logistics, and mail and airline luggage handling.
In retailing Melzer reports: “This is the dream of every supermarket manager. It would reduce loss by goods being taken out without payment and reduce personnel. It could be achieved by adding a smart label to each pack. However, the cost of RFID labels is still too high for cheap items.” For securing high value goods it is a different matter. The RF technology is already being widely applied.
RFID is also used in tickets and cards – currently plastics. These can be replaced by the much cheaper paper cards, explains Melzer. And other formats such as tokens or discs can be produced on a paper carrier basis.
Since introducing a smart label production line at drupa 2000, the company has now developed a new machine generation with the active assistance of transponder suppliers.
“In every production process defective transponders may be found,” it explains. “A solution had to be reached that avoids dispensing them. Also during production we had to ensure that no rewinding or bending of the transponder would lead to unintentional destruction. The answer was found in testing each individual transponder with a go/no go function.
Results are used in the control of the vacuum drum on which the transponders are kept. By means of a 7-axis control the drum can be addressed individually. Functioning transponders are transferred to an adhesive web after a 90 degree turn, while defective transponders are released into a waste bin by a 180 degrees turn of the drum. This Melzer worldwide patented process is claimed to ensure high speed operation and transponder selection. And the material web with applied transponders is led smoothly to a flatbed punch without bending.
The concept forms the basis for two versions of transponder processing. The Smart Label Production Lines SL-L100 is the single track model and can be upgraded to the SL-L400 with up to four tracks. Production speeds are 8,000 and 24,000pcs respectively, claims the company.
For smart tags and tickets the machine has been modified so that it can produce both these and smart labels.
Just how long will it be before we see much wider retail use of RFID and hence a rapidly growing market? MeadWestvaco has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Rafsec (a UPM-Kymmene company), one of the world’s largest manufacturers of RFID transponders. The MOU establishes a framework for MeadWestvaco Intelligent Systems (MWVIS) and Rafsec collaboratively to assess investments for anticipated increases in the market for item level RFID tags and systems.
MWVIS is a new business group established “to create, market and sell practical, turn-key solutions, which provide retailers with real-time, in-store, item-level inventory visibility to enhance each store’s performance”. Key emphasis in the company’s approach is the systematic reduction of risk for retailers’ adoption of RFID technology. One important element of risk reduction is to ensure tag availability at an appropriate price, says the company. “MWVIS will work with its customers and with Rafsec to accurately forecast tag demand.” Correct timing of capital investments to ramp up tag production with market needs is of strategic concern to Rafsec, since “item-level tagging has the potential to require large volumes of tags”.
The agreement is said to ensure on-going access to high quality transponders at competitive pricing from a well established market leading provider. “Identifying and then taking tangible steps to reduce risks are key to driving adoption in the early stages of the market,” according to Ronnie Hise, leader of MWVIS.
“Rafsec and MeadWestvaco are not looking to lock each other down with this agreement,” according to Hise, “but rather we are creating an agreement to help each other understand supply and demand issues in the near term. Good information will lead to good business decisions, which then provides our customers with a consistent tag supply at a good price.”
Timo Lindström, president of Rafsec, reinforced the need for such co-operative agreements. “This relationship is indicative of what the RFID market needs, major corporations with the necessary resources working in a complementary fashion to meet large end user and retailer needs.” MeadWestvaco will benefit from “Rafsec’s aggressive approach to improving tag technology” and MeadWestvaco will afford Rafsec with early feedback on specific demands of new applications.
Flint Ink has launched a separate business unit, PRECISIA, that will be responsible for building the company’s RFID business, in addition to other printed electronics applications, including ‘smart’ packaging and printed electronics and displays.
President of Flint Dave Frescoln notes that the widespread interest in printed electronics applications has validated and reinforced the company’s business strategy in launching the unit.
Conductive inks, which contain particles of conductive silver and/or carbon, can serve as channels for the wireless flow of electronic signals. The most well known application for conductive inks is in antennas for RFID.
President of PRECISIA Jim Rohrkemper says: “The demand for RFID, intelligent packaging and other printed electronics applications has been intense since the announcement earlier this year of our decision to invest in conductive and advanced materials and markets.
“Since then, we have started construction on our new facility, added management and staff, and solidified several joint development and partnering initiatives. We have a number of conductive products available today, and are looking forward to prototyping, researching and working with our customers on specific projects at our new resource centre.”
The centre is expected to open by the end of this year near to Flint Ink’s world headquarters in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It will house laboratories, a state-of-the-art pressroom, and other advanced technologies. According to Rohrkemper, being able to reduce cycle time – the time from concept to product delivery – is critical in such a high-tech environment. The centre will provide the resources necessary to speed the process.
To help ensure the overall success of the venture, strategic business alliances have been made with numerous companies and organisations including RT Circuits (Scotland), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Boston), MIT’s Auto-ID Centre (Boston), University of Michigan (Ann Arbor), and Advanced Conductive Materials (California).
At Labelexpo bielomatik, specialist in RFID transponder processing systems demonstrated the flexibility of its new entry level solution for the lamination of smart labels, tags and tickets, the Transponder Ticket and Label Laminating Machine TTL-100V.
The equipment is claimed to be ideal for processing for the initial stage of the RFID market. And it can be easily upgraded for the ever changing requirements of this industry, says the company. A great variety of RFID elements can be manufactured on the TTL-100V – where V stands for ‘versatile’. Special benefits, says bielomatik, include continuous web processing from reel-to-reel (no stop-and-go system), low investment cost, highly efficient production of two-layer products (transponders with antennas as part of the cover web) and cost efficient production of a great variety of three-layer RFID products (top layer – transponder – bottom layer). It is also claimed to offer high productivity due to a low number of roll changes and the lowest possible unit cost. Modularity allows growth in volume and adaptation to new processes (for example hot melt application). It has an integrated dynamic RFID reader quality control concept.
Coming next, reveals the company, is its TCT-100 Transponder Coding and Transfer Machine, which offers the automatic removal of non functioning smart labels and replacement with functioning spare transponders in register.
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