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New On-Metal Tags Target Food, Beauty, Small Products

Avery Dennison is releasing two small, on-metal tags to enable brands and retailers to expand RFID tagging to include metal containers, liquids and metallic packaging for food, beverages and cosmetics.
By Claire Swedberg
Apr 04, 2019

Technology company Avery Dennison has released two new RFID tags that are intended to be applied to small, metallic and liquid-containing products, ranging from canned sodas to shiny perfume packaging. The company's On-Metal tag can operate with similar sensitivity to that of standard UHF RFID tags, according to Francisco Melo, Avery Dennison's VP and general manager of global RFID, and enables 100 percent tagging of all products at a retail location.

Several brands and retailers are piloting two versions of the new tag—the AD-456u8 and the AD-454r6-P—for food, beauty goods and other products that are difficult to tag. Both are sized to fit on products with small or narrow footprints, while Avery Dennison demonstrated the On-Metal solution at this week's RFID Journal LIVE! conference and exhibition.

Avery Dennison's AD-456u8 (top) and AD-454r6-P (bottom) tags
The AD-456u8 is designed for tagging on metal or plastic, as well as in the presence of liquids or other typically hard-to-read consumer products. It measures 2.52 inches by 0.236 inch in size, while the AD-454r6-P measures 2.75 inches by 0.75 inch. The company recommends the tags for tracking such on-metal items as tools, electronics and other small or metal- or liquid-based products and surfaces.

Retailers and brands have already been applying and reading RFID tags on larger, high-value items, including apparel and shoes, but some of the more difficult use cases continue to involve perfumes and cosmetics, simply due to the size of their packaging and presence of metal and liquids. While food markets and other retailers are seeing benefits in tagging many of their products, a bottle of soda can be as difficult for tag transmission as the foil packet on a cereal bar.

Traditionally, lower-value goods, such as food and beverages, have not been economically feasible. However, the dropping price of RFID tags, the growing number of tags being read for other stock-keeping units (SKUs) and the retail industry's transition toward automated purchasing are leading companies to consider tagging these more challenging products. Now, Avery Dennison says its new on-metal tags will help to enable that transition.

The technology is more affordable now than it was just a few years ago, Melo says. Ensuring inventory accuracy for convenience products is one driver, he notes, adding, "If you're a consumer, it's lunchtime and you have 30 minutes to grab a bite, you want to make sure you can move fast—in which case, for the retailer, tagging a can of soda becomes important. It becomes part of that convenience element."

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