CCRR Brings Its Inlays to the U.S. with Houston Office

By Claire Swedberg

The Brazilian company, launched to accommodate that country's underserved market, is accelerating RFID deployment across the retail and tolling sectors, and has been providing RFID inlays to U.S. customers since 2018.

CCRR RFID, a technology company that was launched to bring RFID to the Brazilian market, is expanding its offerings globally, most recently with a physical office opening in Houston, Texas. The new office is part of a strategy to meet the needs of the company's growing customer base in North America for RFID inlays used in retail and other markets. The office currently serves customers with a sales team, while in the coming months it plans to incorporate a distribution center at the site.

CCRR demonstrated its technology at the recent  RFID Journal Virtually LIVE! conference and exhibition. The new office is part of parent company Grupo CCRR's growth plans as it serves a worldwide audience with RFID inlays for retail labels. Such growth has taken place throughout the course of less than a decade, according to Ricardo Lobo, Grupo CCRR's CEO.

CCRR's Campo Mourao site

Located in São Paulo, the company resulted from a merger in 2011 between an adhesives firm,  Colacril, and a label converter known as RR. A private equity fund bought the resulting company, and one year later it established CCRR RFID to serve the need for RFID technology in the Brazilian retail market. According to Lobo, the Brazlian market was large and mostly underserved by technology companies, so CCRR began offering its own products and services, including inlays, converting, printing and RFID tag encoding. At that time, he says, "There was nothing—you couldn't buy inlays from anybody—so you had to make your own. There weren't any converters, so you had to convert your own." It also began building middleware and software for full solutions.

These days, Lobo reports, the country's RFID traction for the retail market rivals that of other nations around the world. In addition to making inlays for UHF RFID tags, CCRR also offers Near Field Communication (NFC) tags for contactless technologies and other solutions, as well as active RFID tags—and passive UHF used, for instance, in tolling applications. The company provides full solutions for end users in Brazil, including middleware, software and integration when necessary.

"We've worked closely with integrators to make the adoptions work," Lobo states. "We were able to grow a lot, but we also wanted to democratize the technology." CCRR started buying more modern machinery and saw the opportunity to grow into the American market. "More and more, people started buying [inlays] from us, so we decided to cater to this market better." The company has grown most rapidly during the past few years, he reports, and it now offers an inlay manufacturing capacity of 1.1 billion units per year and 2.1 billion units of conversion.

With more of its customers being RFID technology companies in the United States, CCRR has opened the sales office in Houston. Initially, Lobo says, the office will only be used for sales to accommodate North American customers, though in the long run, he expects it to expand to other services as well, enabling the firm to distribute UHF or NFC tags into the United States for both small- and large-volume orders. Ultimately, he says, "The volumes are in UHF, but NFC is also picking up."

Thus far, CCRR's customers are RFID technology providers that build its inlays into their labels and use them with their full solutions. The company's products leverage RFID chips from several partners, including  NXP SemiconductorsImpinj and  EM Microelectronic. While CCRR offers full solutions in Brazil, Lobo says, it has made no effort to do so in the United States, where many of CCRR's customers are solution providers themselves.

"The office is intended to better serve existing clients," Lobo says, "as well as to find new ones and offer new products." In some cases, the products being sold to U.S. clients for their own solutions are, in turn, being sent to other sites around the word, such as a manufacturer in Indonesia. "We need to be talking to our clients in the U.S. to understand their needs," he adds, but the globalization of the retailer market leads to the need for a full global approach by companies like CCRR.

For this reason, the firm has set similar sights on Europe, with plans to open an office for its European customers, which are typically RFID product and solution providers. In the meantime, CCRR leverages the products from Grupo CCRR for its wet and dry inlays. "We source adhesive materials from our own company," Lobo says, as well as from other firms, and it prints tags in Brazil for use cases such as toll roads. "If any American customer desires the printed tags from Brazil, of course we can provide that."

This fall, to meet the growing demand for its products, the company has acquired a  Tamarack high-speed RFID inlay printing machine that accommodates six rows of inlays simultaneously. It accomplishes multiple types of die-cutting in the same pitch. "It's our first step into multi-lane converting," Lobo reports. Essentially, he says, it brings together RFID with what he calls the best of flexography (Flexo) printing—that is, printing on a flexible relief plate. The machine's six lines speed up the tag-printing process, Lobo explains, especially when converting is being provided for such challenging formats as long baggage tags that are mostly paper.

Grupo CCRR's Ricardo Lobo

Most machines are designed for standard-format tags, Lobo notes, whereas CCRR's new machine in Campo Mourao can more quickly produce longer tags or accommodate other form factors. "We have a world-class plant in Campo Mourao now," he says, "but bringing new machines to anther geography is what we want to do." If the U.S. expansion takes place as planned, Lobo reports, the Houston sales office will include a warehouse to provide a distribution center for inlays in the area. The company is now seeking such a facility. "If the American market allows, we hope to be there with eventually converting and everything people want."

The company currently provides recurring sales to multiple RFID businesses that serve retailers, though it has declined to name its customers. Typically, he says, these firms—which do not provide their own inlays—purchase products for large retailer customers. CCRR also sells inlays to RFID companies whose tags are being used for industrial or on-metal deployments. It employs around 45 engineers at its Campo Mourao factory facility and São Paulo headquarters, Lobo says, and it continually innovates. In early 2021, the company expects to announce a new location in Europe. It also sells products in Asia, but other global expansion plans have not yet been decided.