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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

The foil-CapTag system consists of the tag itself, which fits over a bottle's metal cap or foil capsule, and r-trac Retail Services (r-pac's cloud-based software). The software can provide data to a brand owner, distributor or retailer, by storing RFID read events for specific individual products. That data can then be accessed by authorized members of a supply chain.

For instance, a brand owner could affix the foil-CapTag over the cork and foil wrapping of a product, such as a bottle of brandy, and achieve item-level visibility from manufacture through the point of sale at a store. Collected data—such as where and when it was bottled, and which company made the product—could then be input into the system, to be stored along with the bottle tag's unique ID number.

Michael Teitelbaum
At each stage of a bottle's journey to a store, the product's tag ID could be read again, and its status could then be updated on the server, via RFID readers and the r-trac Retail Services software.

At a distribution center, the tags could be interrogated using either a handheld or fixed RFID reader from distances of about 15 feet or more, says Paul Arguin, r-pac's senior director of RFID development. The tags are also "orientation-insensitive"—in other words, they can be interrogated equally well from any angle. Because the tags can be read easily and reliably from a distance, and at different orientations, warehouse workers could conduct periodic and frequent inventory checks, and thereby identify if a case or bottle of liquor or wine is missing. By accessing the foil-CapTag software via the Internet, a brand owner, DC or retailer could view a history of where the product has been and, potentially, where it ended up missing, based on where the tag was last read.

By reading the tags upon receiving the goods at the store, retailers can confirm a product's authenticity and origination. According to Arguin, there are other interesting use cases that could boost sales based on improved inventory accuracy and a reduction in out-of-stock problems on store shelves. For instance, he says, stores could set up RFID-enabled shelves that would read the tags of all bottles placed on them, thereby allowing a store to determine, in real time, when shelves need to be restocked. If the store installed a kiosk with a built-in RFID reader on the sales floor, it could enable customers to place a bottle of liquor near the kiosk reader and view details about that product, such as where and when it was bottled, and (in the case of wine) the kinds of grapes used and the vineyard in which they originated. However, no company is yet trialing these options.

The tags are made in a variety of form factors for bottles of beer, champagne, wine, and spirits with either foil or plastic enclosures. They can also be used on foil boxes or other packaging—for instance, by being placed across the closed flaps of a box. Similarly to beverage caps, the packaging foil serves as an antenna to achieve the long read range. In addition, the foil-CapTags can be used in health-care applications, such as tracking packets or containers of blood. In all cases, Arguin says, the tag is paper-thin, and can thus be completely invisible when placed under a foil or paper wrapping.

"My vision is that RFID solves many of the problems in the retail supply chain today associated with inventory, out-of-stocks and omnichannel initiatives," Teitelbaum states, as companies like r-pac continue to develop RFID-based solutions for challenging use cases.

R-pac will demonstrate the foil-CapTag in booth 212 at this week's RFID Journal LIVE! conference and exhibition, taking place in San Diego, Calif. The company will also conduct private demonstrations at the event, in a reserved meeting room.

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