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Motorola Partnering With Avery Dennison

Motorola is contracting Avery Dennison RFID for contract tag manufacturing, and has also entered into a cooperative marketing and product development deal with the firm.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
May 01, 2007Motorola's Enterprise Mobility Business division (formerly Symbol Technologies) has entered into a strategic partnership with another RFID systems provider, Avery Dennison RFID. Under the terms of the agreement, the latter will begin manufacturing Motorola's passive RFID inlays designed for several applications, including "bag tags" for tracking luggage, item-level tags for tracking pharmaceuticals and consumer products, and shipping labels for cases and pallets of goods. Motorola will continue to manufacture its reusable, rugged asset-tracking tags and other custom tags in-house.

The partnership includes a cooperative marketing agreement, says Bob Cornick, vice president and general manager of Avery Dennison RFID, under which both companies will add each other's Gen 2 tag product lines to their sales portfolios.

This is not the first time Motorola (or Symbol, previously) has outsourced the manufacture of its RFID tags. Joe White, vice president of RFID business development for Motorola's Enterprise Mobility Business division, explains that Symbol had outsourced tag-making to a number of contract manufacturers before bringing the process in-house in 2005. The company decided to do this because the quality and tag capacity of the contract manufacturers were insufficient for Symbol to meet its customer requirements. Motorola's decision to outsource much of its tag manufacturing to Avery Dennison, he adds, "is a clear sign of the maturity of the market and our confidence in Avery Dennison's capability to meet our customer requirements for quality, on-time delivery and cost-effective products."

The contract does not designate Avery Dennison RFID as the exclusive manufacturer of Motorola's Gen 2 inlays for baggage and product tracking. Motorola has not yet identified any other contract manufacturers, however, and Cornick says the agreement covers a "large percentage" of the volume of inlays Motorola plans to sell. "[Motorola] is looking for the kinds of features that Avery can provide [in tag manufacturing]," he says, "such as high-volume, high-quality inlays packaged the right way and delivered in a consistent manner."

Avery Dennison will use its patented strap-attach tag-manufacturing process—in which a chip mounted previously onto a metal strap is attached to an antenna to form an inlay—to create the Motorola tags. This process, Cornick says, enables a higher production volume than the direct die-attach methods used to manufacture Motorola inlays in the past. Avery Dennison RFID will employ Motorola's tag designs, such as its dual-dipole antenna optimized for orientation insensitivity, in making the Motorola tags.

Once the tags are manufactured, Avery Dennison will use Motorola's networks of certified label converters, and its own, to make the final RFID labels in various-sized form factors.

According to Cornick, the partnership agreement also stipulates that Avery Dennison and Motorola codevelop RFID products, including tags, readers and software, optimized for health-care applications. Motorola says it plans to start shipping Avery Dennison-supplied Gen 2 tags in the second half of 2007.
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