RFID Polymer Fusion Technology For Durable Polyolefin Thermoplastic Products

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10/3/2022 - RFusionID

Reusable Packaging

“Of the $200 billion global transport packaging market, roughly half ($100 billion annually) meet the Reusable Packaging Association’s criteria for “reusable” packaging. This wide variety of reusable products are designed and manufactured with physical properties that ensure repeated and lasting uses in a system that features their recovery and return for their intended purpose.” 1

The majority of these products, such as RTI’s, Automotive Dunnage, Crates, Totes, Pallets, and more are manufactured from sustainable polyolefin thermoplastics, sourced specifically for their low cost, superior performance over other materials, and end-of-life recyclability. To manage these assets, manufacturers and end use customers have adopted barcode and RFID technology to track not only the reusable itself, but the cargo they carry. And yet, there’s a problem.

The performance properties that make polyolefin thermoplastics so versatile for reusables (chemical resistance, pressure washing, sanitization, and long service life) also make them problematic for common “adhesion-based” RFID labeling methods that are intended to be on them for life use. Tag separation (tag attachment fails to remain adhered to intended product) occurs when reusable packaging is continuously exposed to harsh chemicals and challenging environments.

“In today’s world, while RFID has been extensively and successfully used in various areas such as inventory management and asset protection, all of these RFID applications rely on the premise that the target item is tagged as it should be. As long as the communication between RFID reader and tag is secured and uninterrupted, the underlying assumption is that the tagged item will always be identifiable and traceable. In other words, a strict and necessary requirement is that the RFID tag and the tagged item to be identified and traced are constantly bound together.” 2

Labels for plastic container

The Problem -
Tag Separation

It is well known amongst reusable packaging manufacturers that polyolefin thermoplastics are one of the most difficult to label plastics in the world, the low surface energy, non-stick surface resembling Teflon® more than any other types of plastic. When tag separation occurs, the association between tag and tagged item disappears making the information stored in the tag useless. This problem is costing the reusable packaging industry and end-use customers millions.

“When tag separation occurs, items lose their identification information regardless of how or why the separation occurred. Tag separation often denotes the loss of item information and thus in turn incurs additional labor and other (e.g., computational, customer goodwill) costs for recovery only if the tag separation is detected. Moreover, the additional cost could be very hard to tolerate, considering the thin margins in some applications. More seriously, tag separation often signifies the loss of item control when the tag separation incident goes undetected. Unexpected (intended and unintended) RFID tag separation may cause considerable mismatched item records, causing havoc in stockout and call-off processes, and eventually increasing the information uncertainty and discrepancy across both upstream and downstream supply chains.” 2

An example of tag separation can be found in food chain logistics where reusable’s must endure harsh sanitizing processes repeatedly throughout their lifespan. According to a 2010 research study on the ability of RFID tags to withstand distribution of fresh produce in the RPC pooling system , the tag separation loss rate from produce containers was estimated at 70% under experimental environments. So the assumption that once an item is RFID-tagged, that tag remains with the item until it is intentionally separated by an honest party, may not always be valid.

The fact that “all existing RFID-based applications are vulnerable to tag separation,” 2 not only creates uncertainty, but hesitancy to adopt RFID technology altogether.

In order to expand the use, acceptance, and efficiency of RFID technology for the future of reusable packaging, the tag separation has to be solved.

The Solution -

To address the problem of RFID tag separation on reusable’s manufactured from polyolefin thermoplastics, a new and unique technology has been created that will revolutionize the reusable packing industry.

RFusionID is the newest product line from Polyfuze™ featuring our patented Polymer Fusion Technology which solves the issue of tag separation for polyolefin thermoplastics.

Polymer Fusion Technology is the science of merging two separate low surface energy plastic polymers together (polyolefin rfid label + polyolefin component) utilizing melting point, time, and pressure, which produces a singular piece of plastic without the use of adhesives, tie-layers, bonding agents, or secondary surface treatments.

The result is permanent RFID and barcode labeling for a wide variety of reusable packaging that provides truly permanent asset protection that cannot be separated, lifted, or removed no matter the environment, exposure, or use.

How Polymer Fusion Labeling Provides Solutions For Automotive Battery Transport & Shipping Containers

1 Excerpt taken from the Reusable Transport Packaging State of the Industry Report 2020 View report here.

2 Excerpt taken from 2018 study “A novel means to address RFID tag/item separation in supply chains” View report here.

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