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Paper Company Brings Intelligence to Packaging

Several consumer-brand businesses are testing RFID and NFC versions of Stora Enso's Intelligent Packaging solution that includes RFID-enabled packages and readers, as well as software and apps to manage read data.
By Claire Swedberg

There are also use cases for UHF RFID tags built into packaging. With the longer read range of a UHF tag, stakeholders in a supply chain could capture tag reads within warehouses as goods pass through dock doors, or are stored on shelves.

"An application we see growing interest in is warehouse management and vendor managed inventory," Salmi says. In addition, he notes, UHF RFID-enabled packaging would enable track-and-trace features, and RFID could be used at the pallet level in warehouses. Stora Enso's Intelligent Packaging solution could consist of a tag on every pallet, reusable container or carton, or on the products themselves, depending on the particular use case. At a store, RFID reader antennas on shelves could provide visibility for stock-keeping and replenishment purposes.

Stora Enso's solution is not just a matter of applying tags to packaging, Salmi says. The company also offers the full solution, including cloud-based software, apps, and reader selection and installation. The firm has teamed up with NXP Semiconductors to create NFC or UHF RFID tags using NXP chips, and has begun working with a variety of UHF RFID reader manufacturers for potential warehouse management or other UHF-based use cases within the supply chain. This year, the company has partnered with Microsoft for the use of its Azure cloud-based software, to provide a direct link between the RFID-based data and a user's enterprise software.

The company currently has several pilots under way. In one case, for instance, a consumer goods manufacturer is testing the technology to provide rewards to its customers. An NFC tag is attached to the interior packaging of each product. When a customer purchases an item and opens its packaging, that individual can tap his or her NFC-enabled phone against the tag, and that unique tag ID number will then be captured and forwarded to a server. Once that phone has tapped four such NFC tags for the specific product, the phone will receive a coupon for a fifth product at no cost.

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