Avery Dennison RFID Labels Improve Efficiency and Cut Waste in Apparel Industry

Radio frequency identification (RFID) technology is transforming both consumers’ shopping carts and companies’ supply chains by allowing intelligent barcodes to talk to a networked system that tracks products from Point A to Point Z.

A technology once limited to tracking cattle, RFID tags are now tracking consumer products worldwide. Many manufacturers use the tags to monitor the location of each product they make from the time it's made until it's pulled off the shelf and tossed in a shopping cart.

This is particularly powerful in the apparel and footwear industry, in which Point A (manufacturers in multiple countries) and Point B (consumers’ shopping carts) can span thousands of miles. Being able to track all of the moving parts across these distances can go a long way in improving efficiencies and reducing losses the ultimately help the bottom line.

Avery Dennison RBIS, a $1.6 billion division of Avery Dennison, is a major player in providing RFID technology and other intelligent, creative and sustainable solutions that elevate brands and accelerate performance throughout the global retail supply chain.

The company recently announced a milestone in its 15-year partnership with sports retailer Decathlon to help further reduce its environmental footprint with RFID technology. For the past decade, Avery Dennison has worked with Decathlon, offering integrated branding solutions, as well as launching their RFID program in 2013.

As part of the partnership, Avery Dennison says it will continue to provide Decathlon with its RFID SmartFace® Technology. This technology increases efficiency in Decathlon’s manufacturing process by creating one sew-in label. It also reduces environmental impact by using Avery Dennison’s patented SmartFace® Technology, which results in a thinner and more flexible product, while removing the PET layers from the manufacturing process.

“The usage of RFID itself basically provides you with means of being more productive on your inventory, which means you have more return on your investment capital,” Francisco Melo, VP of Global RFID for Avery Dennison, told Sustainable Brands. “The reason is rather simple — if you know what you have and where you have it, you can actually optimize the distribution of your inventory versus having a cushion to make up for the inaccuracies that usually happen in the retail store."

This helps companies such as Decathlon improve their bottom lines by improving their inventory through reducing out-of-stocks and increasing sales, Melo said.

Meanwhile, Avery Dennison also has made moves to improve the sustainability of the RFID inlays themselves by using a proprietary cutting process to make the antennas from aluminium, increasing the end-to-end solution recyclability.

“[For] the solution that we provide to Decathlon, by means of labels and printed fabric labels that have less PET and therefore are more sustainable than if they were deploying a more traditional RFID solution, it enables them to have a single label versus multiple labels,” Melo said.

Many other products on the market today contain several labels — one for the import data, one for care and one for the contents, among others.

“The logic of this unique label is ‘how do we integrate everything into one so we make it simpler, we make it easier and faster to be applied at scale?’" Melo said.

With 884 stores in over 21 countries, Decathlon is a classic example of a company with a lot of moving parts. Avery Dennison’s RFID technology can help make sure everything gets where it needs to be in the most efficient manners — and with the least negative impact on the environment.

On a related note, Avery Dennison and L’Oréal Americas partnered last year to identify and reduce the environmental impacts of packaging labels throughout the entire label lifecycle. The collaboration produced a comprehensive Avery Dennison Greenprint™ assessment showing how thinner label materials can reduce environmental impacts.

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