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R-pac Releases EPC UHF Label for Spirits, Wine, Cosmetics

The foil-CapTag, developed in partnership with ePix and Interactive Product Solutions, offers a 15-foot read range by leveraging a bottle's foil packaging and liquid contents.
By Claire Swedberg
Apr 14, 2015

Global branded packaging company r-pac International Corp. has commercially released a new ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID cap tag for tracking inventory and authenticating bottled or foil-wrapped products. According to the company, the tag offers a long read range, and at a low price.

The tag was developed to take advantage of foil wrappers, as well as the fluid stored in a bottle, in order to extend the read range up to 15 feet or more, r-pac explains.

The foil-CapTag is designed to be applied over a bottle's cap or cork, as well as its foil wrapping.
The foil-CapTag—the result of a partnership with Interactive Product Solutions (IPS)—is based on technology created and patented by a U.K. firm called ePix (see EPix Offers Passive Long-Range UHF Tag for Wine, Spirits). The tag is now being tested or deployed by several r-pac customers, including beverage companies, such as liquor and wine makers, as well as cosmetics brand owners and retailers. The tag is employed in conjunction with r-pac's cloud-based software to manage and share RFID read data with authorized members of a supply chain.

The foil-CapTag is designed to solve two problems that have stymied those who have tried to use EPC UHF RFID tags on bottles of high-value liquid or small products with a great deal of foil packaging, the company reports: limited tag readability and high cost. The CapTag can fit on foil covering a bottle cap or a box, and can use the foil as an antenna to boost its transmission. The tag also uses the RF signal's electrical field absorbed by wine, in order to boost the power of the backscatter signal that it sends back to an interrogator. And unlike other tags designed for such use cases, says Michael Teitelbaum, r-pac's CEO, the foil-CapTag is fairly low-cost—between 15 and 19 cents apiece. Most other tags designed for foil caps operate at the 13.56 MHz high-frequency (HF) band, may cost as much 50 cents apiece and have a much shorter read range.

R-pac has been providing RFID labels for item-level tagging for many years, Teitelbaum says, including tags for denim tracking with Wal-Mart's 2009 initiative, and has sold more than 1.5 billion item-level EPC UHF labels. The company maintains a presence in 25 countries where its customers manufacture products.

One product sector in which there has not been much tagging, Teitelbaum says, has been bottled beverages, such as spirits and wine, since conventional passive UHF tags do not perform well when attached to foil, or on products containing a large amount of liquid. The foil-CapTag not only solves these challenges, he adds, but also uses the foil to improve performance. At the same time, however, brands, distributors and retailers all have a need for RFID tracking to better ensure that products are available on store shelves, as well as to quickly identify when goods are diverted, counterfeited or stolen from a warehouse or store.

In 2013, ePix patented a passive UHF RFID tag that used foil wrappers and liquid to act as an antenna, to lengthen the read range when interrogated by a reader. Since then, r-pac began working with ePix and IPS to develop the foil-CapTag, which r-pac commercially released this spring in multiple form factors. The tags are made with various types of chips, Teitelbaum says, and r-pac is not working exclusively with one chip manufacturer.

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