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Avery Dennison Steps Up

The world's largest maker of self-adhesive labels, which has been doing a lot of work on RFID behind the scenes, is starting to make more noise about its RFID products.
By Mark Roberti
May 27, 2004Avery Dennison has been something of an anomaly in the RFID market. While many vendors without RFID products issue press releases and make a lot of noise in the RFID market, the world's largest maker of self-adhesive labels has been quiet about its RFID offerings. That's starting to change.
Mishcha Reis

At the Retail Systems event in Chicago last week, Avery showed off its RFID printer/encoder, which can print bar codes on labels with embedded UHF Class 1 and Class 0 RFID tags. The printer can also write to read-write tags and cross out any label with an RFID tag that is inoperable. The reader lists for $5,995.

Other companies have similar products on the market. One thing that is unique about Avery is that it plans to deploy the readers in service bureaus around the world. The bureaus provide preprogrammed tags and printed labels for manufacturers, which can be applied at the manufacturing facility. So if Wal-Mart is purchasing cases of product made in China, the manufacture can rely on Avery to print the bar code onto a self-adhesive label and write accurate information to the label’s RFID transponder. All the manufacturer has to do is put the label on a case or pallet of items.

"A manufacturer may have plants in China, Indonesia and Bangladesh producing exactly the same product," says Mishcha Reis, director of marketing for RFID and security products at Avery. "With this system, the manufacture knows the information on the label is correct. They are outsourcing the data management piece to us."

Avery also showed off several of its new RFID labels with antennas designed for use on cases of canned goods and other products that are difficult to tag. The labels feature antennas printed by Avery with conductive inks, which are cheaper than solid-metal antennas. Reis says that in Avery's tests, 100 percent of the labels on cases traveling on conveyors could be read as required by Wal-Mart for goods shipped to its distribution centers.

Reis declined to provide pricing for the new RFID labels, which are different sizes and have different antenna shapes depending on whether the labels will be used for tagging vials of prescription drugs, clothing or goods made of, or packaged in, materials that are not RF-friendly. He said the cost depends on the volume of labels purchased and on whether the labels are a standard size (most shipping labels are 6 inches by 4 inches) and whether the label has an antenna specially designed for a particular type of product.

Reis said Avery Dennison is investing in high-speed machines that can print RFID antennas with conductive inks, attach a microchip to the antenna and mount it on a surface to create an inlay that can be embedded in a label. "This type of equipment is essential if we are going to produce the volume of labels needed for widespread adoption of RFID," he says. "We've been mass-producing labels for a long time, so we have the engineering and research-and-development expertise needed to make it happen."


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