Tailor-Made Sustainability at the Top
Sustainability is becoming increasingly important for retailers and use cases. A growing number of RFID users already insist on it, but do not want to compromise on product features and performance of the inlays they use. r-pac and Tageos show how individual properties can be combined with maximum sustainability.
On the occasion of Wireless IoT Tomorrow 2023 – Europe's unique and largest event 100% focused on the latest technologies around IoT and RFID – Tageos and its long-time customer r-pac gave a presentation to exhibition visitors entitled “How to Create a Sustainable, Paper-based RFID Inlay for a Large Retailer”. Representatives of both companies – Thomas Wythe, VP Sales EMEA at Tageos, and r-pac’s President Europe, Torsten Strauch – jointly demonstrated the possibilities for customized inlay development resulting from close cooperation between a leading inlay manufacturer and a leading specialist in branded packaging, trim and supply chain solutions.
The project was initiated by a major European retailer that has set itself the goal of becoming CO2 neutral by 2035 and strictly reducing the use of plastics. The global retailer required its partners to deliver inlays with specific characteristics to support its ongoing RFID rollout. These included the elimination of plastics for the substrate, assurances that no conflict minerals would be used, and compliance with specified quality and performance levels. In addition, a reliable supply of at least 100 million inlays per year had to be guaranteed.
r-pac and Tageos join forces to meet customer demands
As the retailer's long-time RFID partner, r-pac knew that Tageos' EOS Zero™ Technology was the ideal solution to meet the criteria. Combining variations of Tageos’ latest antenna and manufacturing technologies with highly sustainable component materials, these EOS Zero inlays redefine the standards for sustainability within the RFID industry. They completely eliminate plastic and are instead made from fully recyclable, biodegradable FSC® paper to significantly reduce waste and plastic consumption. To help drive sustainability programs globally, they also enable a greatly reduced carbon footprint compared to traditional RFID inlays and are 100% free of heavy metals and conflict materials. Marking the highest level within the EOS Zero portfolio, EOS Zero Max inlays feature precision laser-cut antennas (instead of their conventional etched counterparts) that enable a “clean & lean” production process plus easy recycling of cut aluminum, and result in first-rate robustness and performance.
Leveraging Tageos' market-leading EOS Zero Technology
As these features relate more to manufacturing technology than to antenna design, r-pac quickly identified the opportunity to leverage Tageos’ EOS Zero technology for their r-boost series of state-of-the-art transponders to create a sustainable r-boost custom inlay. However, the opportunity was not easy to seize. The small form factor and complex antenna design of the r-boost transponders proved challenging to laser-cut. What's more, these were the first antenna designs to be commercially produced in high volumes using laser-cutting technology on paper substrates. Bringing the new technology into mass production required the development of customized test procedures to ensure quality and performance. In all of this, both partners had to consider the economic aspect as well: the new sustainable r-boost custom inlays had to be priced at a level comparable to traditional etched antenna on PET-substrate inlays.
“All about teamwork”
Together, r-pac and Tageos succeeded in creating a product that really impressed the customer. To accomplish this, both companies combined their world-class capabilities, from unrivaled experience in retail RFID systems, rapid RF antenna design and sample delivery, to seamless production ramp-up and reliable volume delivery.
In addition to the hard facts of the business win, there was also a 'softer' side, according to Torsten Strauch of r-pac: “In order to live up to our claim of being the first address for branded goods and packaging solutions worldwide, we need an RFID inlay supplier who is not only willing to accompany us on our way to customized solutions, but who also goes the extra mile with us. And we have found such a partner in Tageos.”
Thomas Wythe of Tageos added: “Of course, what counts is an innovative, high-performance and truly sustainable product. But in the end, it was above all about teamwork, which both companies executed perfectly here. We at Tageos are delighted to be working with our valued partner r-pac globally to deliver outstanding results for the benefit of their end customers.”