Saturday, May 28, 2005

Thinking outside -- or inside -- the box?

A new study evaluates the impact that RFID (radio-frequency identification) deployment will have on corrugated box suppliers over the next three years and beyond. The study, commissioned by the Fibre Box Association (FBA) RFID Task Group, will be used to help corrugated packaging suppliers understand and plan for the future as vital partners in the supply chain.

With RFID a rapidly emerging trend in the consumer goods and retail industry, it is very likely that RFID tags will soon be requested on finished corrugated boxes, bearing a significant cost impact on a corrugated box plant. Since the corrugated industry has a long history of being a supportive supply-chain partner to its customers and end users, the FBA Board of Directors created a task force to investigate the impact of RFID.

The RFID Task Group recognized that studies had already been done examining the impact of RFID on other portions of the supply chain, specifically retailers and consumer goods firms, but no work had been published regarding the impact on packaging suppliers. Therefore, the RFID Task Group commissioned Forrester Consulting to develop a study in July-September 2004. The purpose of the study was to estimate the net effect on a corrugated box manufacturer of supplying RFID-enabled corrugated containers.

Intellareturn Take: Today's cost of tags are too high for corrugated box-making operations. At present, solutions adding a smart label to selective boxes is the appropriate strategy. Expect to see all printed cartons potentially available with RFID printing options as organic materials and lower cost in-line print production techniques with printed inks and electronics mature. Expect a three to five year timeframe as well. The first phase will likely be with couriers that supply or sell re-usable packaging for shipments that are pre-embedded with RFID identification and shipping solutions.

See the Fibre Box Assocation ( for more information. The summary report and model are available to FBA member companies, which produce more than 90 percent of all corrugated material manufactured in the U.S.


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