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FLEXO Magazine : August 2008
INDUSTRY INDICATORS The leading applications for RFID by number of projects. Printing Industry By Dr. Peter Harrop R adio Frequency Identifi cation (RFID) is a booming business, with much of it being of interest to the printing industry, but not in quite the way that was originally envisaged. About 30 billion cases arrive at major retailers every year and it was thought that most of those cases would be RFID tagged under retailer mandates by now, mainly to reduce stockouts. The power of Western retailers meant that such directives worked well when getting suppliers to fit anti-theft tags regard- less of economics; with RFID the cost to consumer goods suppliers is far higher, and as such there has been much drag- ging of feet. Even those companies that have been mandated are only tagging 38 F LEXO a few percent of their output so far and that at a cumulative loss of more than $100 million, aggravated by technical problems and over-specification. DRUG PACKAGING Another setback for RFID has been the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the U.S. damping its previous enthu- siasm for RFID on pharmaceutical pack- ages for anti-counterfeiting purposes, where it had wanted it in place by 2007. That could have led to up to 15 billion tagged prescription drug packages yearly in the West alone. Today, only ViagraTM TrizivirTM , and a few other drugs are RFID tagged, and then only for the U.S. market. It adds up to just a few million AUGUS T 20 0 8 www. f l e x o g r a p h y. o r g packages yearly. The FDA still wants RFID as an anti-counterfeiting option but a killer here has been the lack of a standard. It is like anti-theft tags: there are three incompatible types of RFID in use on U.S. drug packages. The FDA will make a decision in two years after its latest e-pedigree advancement pro- gram, mainly based on 2D barcodes, is complete. In Europe and the U.S., 2D barcodes are starting to be used extensively to give the required unique ID to every package, working through secure data- bases to give e-pedigree of origin and history. However, barcodes are easily copied and subject to obscuration, mis- orientation, damage and other reading RFID and the
Flexo Sustainable Fall 2008