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Mondi Uses RFID to Track Paper Rolls

The manufacturer of corrugated paper products deployed a system it codeveloped with IPICO, which plans to market it to other companies in the paper industry.
By Laurie Sullivan
Dec 04, 2006Mondi Packaging a U.K.-based manufacturer of corrugated paper products, is installing an RFID system to track and monitor paper-roll consumption at its factory in the English city of March.

According to Mike Clarke, Mondi's RFID solutions business leader, when the project begins operations this week, it will include three clamp trucks, 10 roll stands, a handheld RFID interrogator for mobility throughout the plant, a registration RFID interrogator that provides a unique number to the paper roll, a probe RFID interrogator placed deep inside the paper-roll core to detect the quantity of paper left on the roll and a stock-count RFID interrogator to read multiple stacked rolls simultaneously. "We will start to validate the business case in January 2007," Clarke says, declining to note Mondi's investment in the project. "We want payback in less than 24 months to make this a commercially viable solution."

Mondi Packaging is installing an RFID system to track and monitor paper-roll consumption.
Mondi and IPICO, a Canadian RFID-technology vendor, designed the system, known as SmartCore, which relies on IPICO's passive IP-X dual-frequency RFID tags. When an IP-X tag receives a 6.8 MHz signal from an RFID interrogator, it transmits a 125 kHz signal conveying its unique ID number. The companies chose the dual-frequency IP-X tag for SmartCore because it works best in electromagnetic (EM) and moist environments.

Clarke says his firm will use SmartCore to resolve two fundamental problems in the paper industry: stock management and waste management. By attaching the IP-X tag to the cylindrical core around which a roll of paper is wound, Mondi hopes to reduce product waste by allowing it to more closely monitor paper consumption—between 27,000 and 28,000 paper rolls annually.

SmartCore will interface with software designed for the corrugated paper industry, and used by Mondi to manage inventory and shipments. Escada Systems, a North Yorkshire, England, supplier of systems for corrugated paper manufacturers, provided the software, which will collect and process data from RFID tags inserted to identify the rolls and calculate the quantity of paper left on them.

Mondi also plans to embed roughly 1,000 RFID tags into the floor of the plant, thus creating a position-tracking system that will make it easier to locate between 950 and 1,150 paper rolls stored at the plant each month.

IPICO's president, Gordon Westwater, says the project took two and a half years to develop because there were many challenges to overcome. These included filtering out interfering RF noise emitted by factory machines and compensating for the paper roles' high moisture content, which can absorb RFID signals. The two companies continually tested frequencies and changed reader and antenna configurations until they found an RFID solution that worked despite the EM interference and environmental moisture.

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