The study into the use of RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags, funded by the Reusable Packaging Association (RPA), concluded that tags designed for single use could be used for multiple trips without compromising performance provided that they are positioned correctly on reusable containers.
Pat Kennedy, vice president of Marketing and Sales for The Kennedy Group, and leader of the team that sponsored the tests said: “The compatibility of RFID technology with reusable containers brings substantial added benefits to the already proven economic and environmental advantages of reusable packaging systems.”
Bob Klimko, chairman of the RPA Board and director of Marketing for ORBIS Corporation added: “By combining RFID technology with reusable containers, industries gain the ability to better track their product and their containers as they move through the supply chain. This will result in a stronger return on investment on the containers, as well as provide opportunities for improved supply chain management through analysis of the data provided.”
Using FRID tags allows food goods to be identified and tracked more closely during transport, he said. “For produce with time-sensitive shipments, adoption of reusable packaging with RFID track and trace facilitates analysis of the supply chain to reduce and minimize product loss due to shelf life expiration.”
Reusable tagging could also contribute to reduced labour costs in eliminating the laborious steps involved in one-way tag applications, said the RPA.
During tests, the RFID tags underwent temperature changes from more than 100° Fahrenheit (F) to 32°F in cold storage. They were also subject to dry field conditions, wet and cold storage environments, warehousing, store racking and hand deliveries to the store shelves.
Each of the RFID tags used during field testing were transported more than 1,000 miles before being unloaded at a distribution center, then reloaded onto local trucks for delivery to the stores. They were then redelivered back for sanitation, and finally redeployed to the produce company for reuse.
The study, which lasted over a year, included participants such as Wal-Mart Stores, Frontera Produce, Stemilt, Tanimura and Antle, Georgia-Pacific, IFCO Systems, ORBIS, Alien Technology; Avery Dennison, Impinj, UPM Raflatac, Michigan State University School of Packaging, The Kennedy Group, California State Polytechnic University and QLM Consulting.