Tadbik Expands RFID, NFC Offerings in the United States

By Claire Swedberg

The Israeli company is providing customized RFID functionality to its labels and packaging, in order to offer smart cabinet solutions, as well as race-timing, cold chain tracking and NFC-based payment solutions, to its customers.

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Israeli labeling solutions company Tadbik Advanced Technologies has spent the past four years growing into the RFID market, by combining its custom print solutions for labels and packaging with Near Field Communication (NFC) and ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID inlays, in order to provide anti-counterfeiting, cold-chain, food-traceability, animal-tracking and race-timing labels to its customers worldwide. Now, the firm plans to expand further into the U.S. market, by offering its RFID-based solutions through its American subsidiary, Logotech.

Currently, the only labels that Logotech produces do not include RFID technology. For that reason, U.S. customers—the majority of which use Tadbik’s labels for marathons and other race-timing purposes—have purchased RFID solutions directly from Tadbik’s Israeli headquarters. With the availability of RFID products through Logotech, the company expects to broaden its customer base in the United States.

Tadbik’s T-RFID Timing Labels used on runners’ bibs—as well as for tags that attach to athletes’ ankles or shoes—are made with Smartrac ShortDipole M5 inlays.

Tadbik’s RFID and NFC Solutions division provides a wide variety of solutions, most of which are used in the Middle East, Africa and Europe. For instance, this division makes a sticker containing an embedded NFC RFID inlay. The sticker is designed to be attached to an object, and can be interrogated using an NFC-enabled phone or tablet PC operating an application to manage the collected read data, or by an NFC reader linked to a point-of-sale (POS) device. Michal Yanuv Max, the sales and marketing manager of Tadbik’s RFID division, says that although her company does not provide software, it works closely with NFC app developers and can connect customers with the appropriate software or app provider for a specific use case.

A recent example of a use case involves Nigerian mobile-payment solutions company Teasy Mobile, which will launch a system this spring using Tadbik’s NFC stickers. The majority of cell phones in use in that country lack NFC or smartphone functionality. Therefore, Teasy sought an NFC sticker that would enable individuals to use their “dumb” phones as a payment device. Some merchants have NFC readers wired to their POS system. Consumers will be able to acquire the NFC stickers from Teasy Mobile and then go online to enter their own identifying information, such as a bank account number, which will be linked to the unique ID number encoded to the high-frequency (HF) NFC RFID inlay embedded in the sticker. The consumer would attach the sticker to his or her phone, and tap it against a merchant’s reader when making a purchase. The ID number is read, the purchase amount is deducted from that person’s account, and he or she can receive a text message or paper receipt.

Tadbik also sells a UHF RFID on-metal tag in quantities of millions (approximately three million were sold during the past two months), for use in smart cabinets. For this application, RFID readers and antennas are built into locked cabinets, and a Tadbik tag made with an EPC Gen 2 passive UHF inlay (most Tadbik tags utilize inlays provided by Smartrac Group) is attached to each item placed within that cabinet. Tags are typically applied to items for which users require a high level of security, in order to ensure that those goods are not removed from the cabinet—or, if they are, the reader will no longer capture those products’ ID numbers, and the software can generate reports indicating who has last accessed the cabinet, as well as the time at which each item has been removed. By using RFID software, a manager could track which items are inside the cabinet at any given time.

The tags attached to the items stored within the smart cabinets also come with tamper-detection functionality, according to Michal Yanuv Max, the sales and marketing manager of Tadbik’s RFID division. The tag, known as the Security Label, includes an on-metal feature in a polyethylene foam spacer layer that allows it to function and be read within metallic environments. In addition, she says, it has several security layers ensuring that the tag cannot be removed from an item, including destructible materials, security print and special adhesives.

“The combination of all these security measures ensures that no item will be removed or altered with, without distinctive visible indication,” Yanuv Max explains.

Tadbik was launched in 1983 as a small print house for customers in Israel, where the company operates five production sites. Since then, the firm has evolved into one of the largest providers of labeling and packaging solutions worldwide. It currently employs 900 workers at seven facilities around the globe, including offices and manufacturing sites in South Africa, Russia, the United States and Israel, with headquarters in the Tel Aviv area. The company focuses on customized solutions, so in recent years, Tadbik began looking into how RFID technologies in labels and packaging could enhance its product offerings. “We saw the potential and the resources that we bring to the table,” Yanuv Max reports, “and decided to offer RFID solutions to our future customers.”

When manufacturing RFID labels and other RFID products, Tadbik uses a machine that automatically tests each tag’s ability to be read, removing those that fail to function properly.

The company created an RFID division and employed its own laboratories to develop and test products, including the UHF labels used in smart cabinet solutions. Tadbik partners with RFID inlay providers, such as Kovio Technology—which was recently acquired by Thinfilm (see RFID News Roundup: Thinfilm Acquires Kovio, Opens Silicon Valley NFC Innovation Center)—and Smartrac.

Teasy Mobile plans to go live with its NFC-based solution in May 2014, following an April pilot at several stores in the city of Abuja, says Amina Bakari, the company’s administrative and logistics officer. The Teasy Tap and Pay solution will consist of Tadbik’s NFC inlay built into a Teasy Mobile payment sticker. “The target customers are Nigerians who have been excluded from formal banking service due to accessibility,” Bakari says. Those customers, who may not have a bank account, can sign up for the service at offices dedicated for that purpose to create and fund a Teasy Mobile account.

After each payment transaction in which a customer taps the NFC sticker against a reader at the point of sale, Teasy Mobile sends a text message to that individual indicating the amount of payment and the balance remaining in his or her prepaid account. “It ensures as many Nigerians are financially included and drives [a] cashless economy,” Bakari states, “which is a strategy that the apex bank [the Central Bank of Nigeria] has identified to ensure economic growth and plan appropriately to mitigate the financial needs of poor Nigerians.” The solution is intended to increase Nigerian consumers’ comfort level regarding noncash payments.

In addition, Bakari says, Tadbik is currently involved in an RFID pilot with one of the largest cold-chain-management facilities in the world, which has asked to remain unnamed. For this pilot, Tadbik is providing tags for which it chose specific adhesives to withstand the extreme temperatures required for freezing goods.

The company manufactures a variety of passive UHF EPC Gen 2 RFID tags for other types of applications as well. One example is a passive UHF RFID tag for animal tracking, allowing for bulk animal reading at a greater distance than is possible using traditional low-frequency (LF) tags. The company’s T-RFID Timing Labels can be used on bibs, or be attached to athletes’ ankles or shoes. The labels are disposable and waterproof, and each has a built-in Smartrac ShortDipole M5 inlay. Tadbik also provides UHF and HF RFID tags built into shrink sleeves and other flexible packaging for consumer packaged goods companies, which are presently being used for anti-counterfeiting solutions, as well as providing marketing data via the NFC tags.

At its site in Petach Tikva, where it manufactures labels, packaging materials and shrink-wrap plastic film, the company tests each tag’s functionality prior to shipping it to a customer, using an RFID machine that it created in-house. The machine consists of two readers, as well as an automated mechanism for removing labels from a roll if they cannot be read properly. In the machine, where labels are die-cut, each tag is interrogated twice—first to ensure that it is operable, and a second time to make sure its antenna was not damaged during the cutting process. The labels are then read two more times by off-line interrogators, which can also encode the tags as an optional service to a customer.

“For us, quality is king,” Yanuv Max says. “We took advantage of our machinery division and added several functions on our [RFID] machine that are unique to Tadbik, and ensure that all products made by Tadbik are with 100 percent working inlays,” she says, referring to the automatic mechanism for removing inoperable tags from a roll.

Tadbik will exhibit its RFID product line, including its NFC stickers, wristbands, Security Labels, UHF animal tags and RFID Timing Labels, at RFID Journal LIVE!, being held on Apr. 8-10, 2014, in Orlando, Fla.