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RFID in a Day Attracts Label Companies, Brands

SMAG Graphique is showcasing how RFID technology can be used for its label-converting equipment customers, as it recently released two new converting machines for UHF RFID-enabled product labels.
By Claire Swedberg
Aug 14, 2019

French label-converting company SMAG Graphique has been expanding its label equipment portfolio to include RFID-based systems that provide inlay insertion, encoding and control (validating the RFID functionality as well as verifying the encoding process). The company recently brought approximately 165 potential RFID technology users to its headquarters in Paris, France, so they could view how the technology is being used and the benefits it provides to retailers and other companies that require automated access to digital data via a product's label. RFID technology providers Nordic ID and Avery Dennison also participated in the event.

SMAG has provided label-converting solutions for high-value labels for approximately 40 years. These printed roll-to-roll label-converting machines are used for labels that are applied to premium products, such as wine, cosmetics, perfumes, handbags and other merchandise, explains Sandro Cardoch, SMAG's business developer and RFID specialist. "They like to have a beautiful label attached to their products," he says, "and that's what we do."

In fact, Cardoch says, the company has been among the top European suppliers for such narrow-web label equipment for the past 30 years. Around 70 percent of the firm's sales are in Europe, with the rest in North America and other parts of the world. Recently, with growth of the digital printing market, the company began looking at ways to innovate and diversify its offerings to compete with a new and changing market.

About a decade ago, SMAG Graphique began providing a machine capable of label converting that enables the addition of RFID inlays into each label. More recently, however, the company has added the functionality of encoding and control systems. SMAG now offers three versions of its RFID-enabled Iconnect machines. One (the Iconnect-c) offers converting only; RFID wet inlays can be inserted into each label to make it intelligent, and the machine enables the application of RFID inlays at a rate of up to 120 meters per minute. The second version (Iconnect-e) provides control—an additional validation process that ensures the tag remains readable. The third version offers both encoding and control; the control feature ensures that the tag within the label can be read effectively at specified distances so that it can operate as required by an end user.

SMAG's customers consist of label-printing companies that create their own custom label products that they then sell to brands and pharmaceuticals. Additionally, the firm sells its machines directly to some end users that utilize the equipment to print and encode the RFID-enabled labels for their own products as they are manufactured onsite. For the past two years, for instance, a pharmaceutical company in South Carolina has been using SMAG Graphique equipment to convert and encode its own labels for products that it sells to hospitals.

SMAG chose to host its RFID in a Day event because RFID technology use is growing, with more companies now seeking RFID-enabled labels. The event was held in June to bring awareness to its existing and potential customers about what RFID can accomplish. The response was greater than the company expected, Cardoch says. The event was focused on an international audience; the first two days targeted French-speaking customers, while the third day was presented to English-speaking speakers.

Avery Dennison provided passive UHF RFID inlays and shared information about the technology, while Nordic ID conducted some live demonstrations that illustrated how smart labels can be used in a retail environment. Additionally, VFP Ink Technologies printed circuit boards with conductive ink, while Polytec PT provided conductive ink-curing processes for the printing of RFID antennas.

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