Advanced materials for modern digital supply chain efficiency

scientist in lab testing rfid equipment

The digital transformation of supply chains has become an important element in improving the resilience and traceability of physical goods. Advanced Material Development (AMD) is innovating a range of highly conductive nanocarbon based inks to provide sustainable and composatable alternatives to traditional metal-based UHF RFID technologies. This technology optimises backend systems by virtue of being a non-line-of-sight technology that can read many objects more quickly and efficiently than other methods.

The InnovateUK funded consortium, SecQuAL, is focused on the food sector and how RFID systems can ensure food traceability and quality. AMD has produced a series of digital and intelligent packaging demonstrators highlighting consumer interactivity and backend MRP functionality, simulating production, distribution and sales environments through combinations of QR codes, barcodes and UHF RFID.

At AMD, we are very conscious of creating new technologies which are sustainable and don’t add excessive recycling burdens to the end users. A technology that could ensure recyclability and traceability with the use of novel nanocarbon antenna to provide identification functions through its integration with UHF RFID via labels or direct printing.

The AMD development team is currently working with partners on upscaling this innovative technology and its implementation into individual supply chains, including meat and fresh produce production and distribution. Our prototype RFID tags can be printed onto sustainable substrates (such as paper), printed as labels and loops or printed directly onto packaging, providing flexibility of deployment where required.

UHF RFID also allows important information to be stored (dates, serial numbers, etc.,) so that any recall or fault can be traced quickly as well as ensuring the integrity of shipments when multiple items are linked together in transit.

By several estimates UHF RFID is reaching over 20 billion items annually (IdTechEx) and as such, modern packing and aggregate labelling must present different functions and appearances to consumers, supermarkets, logistics companies, auditors and producers.

Traceability of goods is becoming critical for companies to show their ESG credentials; digital technologies such as barcodes and RFID enable the linking of objects and locations through harmonised standards such as GS1 EPC (electronic product code) systems and the TDS 2.0 standard. These standards are designed to guide interoperability between scanners, barcodes and tags, software systems, vendors and clients. Using AMD’s RFID applications to register individual products and reusable creates, and their locations, with unique codes, it could be possible to provide global traceability when linked to high level inventory software as developed by other members of the consortium.

14-June-2023

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