Although RFID hardware and software suppliers have enthusiastically touted a technology they claim could soon be as ubiquitous as barcodes – and indeed several European retailers and brand owners have already deployed RFID at pallet or case level – until now the pace of adoption on packaged goods has been nowhere near as rapid as analysts had predicted.
Several reasons have been given, including tag costs, a lack of demonstrable ROI and, not least, the cost and complexity of applying RFID tags or labels efficiently to packaged goods at the high line speeds demanded to accommodate consumer demand.
It was fascinating to hear this month then that Domino’s Integrated Solutions Group and a specialist arm of a leading Canadian packaging, paper and tissue company have developed a way of tagging cartons during sheet manufacture such that the RFID inlays become “an integral part of the package” rather than having to be applied subsequently on or off-line once the goods are inside (see p5). Cartonboard/corrugated packs are used to pack and transport a broad spectrum of goods, so this “breakthrough” could be a significant one and perhaps a precursor to other, similar systems.
Also particularly noteworthy this month was news that one of the UK’s leading packaging machinery companies, the Bradman Lake Group (BLG), is under new ownership following its acquisition by Langley Holdings, a UK-headquartered conglomerate with wide-ranging engineering interests but, to date, no substantial involvement in packaging machinery.
Earlier this year BLG opened a new Centre of Excellence in Norwich, simultaneously highlighting plans to launch an impressive 89 new or revised machinery systems over the next three years. One industry insider close to BLG told Packaging Today it had been hoped the fast-growing Group could be sold in an MBO, but added that, with this option falling through, Langley, known for acquiring companies “at the top of their game” concluded a deal which the source believed would see Bradman Lake “continue to go from strength to strength”. We await further developments with interest.