Standing Still Will Always Mean Falling Behind
Peter Walendy, Head of Sales at SMARTRAC, explains the company’s continuous drive for innovation. He talks about ongoing investment to better respond to customer needs, as well as how the company is making RFID technology more environmentally friendly.
SMARTRAC is in a transformation process into a solutions provider. What does that mean for other areas of business in general, and for SMARTRAC’s role as a transponder manufacturer in particular?
We are doing the one thing without abandoning the other. We are indeed driving our transformation forward, which means that there is a focus on IoT solutions and software-related developments. Yet, our solutions rely heavily on RFID technology – transponders that are embedded into products and things. And on top of that, we are still devoted to being the global leader for innovative RFID products. To retain – and possibly even extend – that leadership in terms of both technology and sustainability, we are investing heavily in manufacturing flexibility and a truly “green” RFID tag for example.
What exactly do you mean by “green” tags and technologies and why is SMARTRAC doing research and making investments in that area?
At SMARTRAC, we think about and support social responsibility and eco-friendly aspects at the highest level. Our products comply with a broad range of legislation-based environmental standards, e.g. RoHS, REACH or the IEC definition of halogen-free materials. On top of that, we are investing in materials and RFID products to reduce even more their impact on waste, and to improve recyclability. Ultimately, our goal is to produce tags that fully comply with “Green Tag Criteria” - based on market and customers’ demand. These criteria are: minimal carbon footprint, optimum waste management, green production and full recyclability. On our way to that goal we have started a large-scale and in-depth “Life Cycle Assessment of RFID Tags” to understand the environmental impact of RFID in general.
The reason for all these efforts is obvious. Firstly, we want to actively support the “UN Global Compact” principles we recently committed ourselves to, and strive to take SMARTRAC’s Corporate Social Responsibility to a higher level. Secondly, we are complying with the demands of our customers who are similarly placing more and more value on environmentally friendly products. To cope with and even exceed our customers’ expectations, we are investing in remaining the pacesetter for environmentally friendly RFID products.
SMARTRAC already has one of the industry’s largest RFID manufacturing capacities. What exactly are you targeting with the current investments?
In a highly competitive environment, standing still will always mean falling behind. That is why we are permanently investing in state-of-the-art technology for all our products in all of our manufacturing sites. At this point in time, our aim is to be able to provide a much larger selection of customized form factors and to do that with greater speed and higher capacities. The reason for that is simple: the wider the application area gets for RFID, the more individual form factors are required.
This is the case in retail as well as industrial environments, and both will strongly benefit from our new capabilities and the new value-added services they enable. As a part of these services, we will for the first time be able to offer converted labels, e.g. hang tags for apparel and retail. On top of that, our hang-tag customers will benefit from the use of new hot-melt adhesives. Our CIRCUS DURA wash-and-wear tags which are already used by many innovative brands give a first glimpse of what will be possible on a very large scale as soon as our full machine capacities are up and running in November 2017.