Domino ISG and Hide-Pack have joined together to develop what the two companies are calling 'smart boxes' -- a technology that eliminates the need for a paper label by incorporating the RFID inlay within the packaging medium. Paul de Blois, Hide-Pack's vice president and general manager, said the key to making RFID affordable is by integrating the technology into the manufacturing process of the packaging medium. "Hide-Pack is an environmentally-sustainable approach to RFID that reduces capital costs, improves labour productivity, maintains the package recyclability, and improves the reliability of the RFID tag," he stated. RFID has long been touted as the future of logistics for all companies by allowing retailers and suppliers to track goods throughout the supply chain. However high prices for tags and systems has held enthusiasm at bay. Privacy concerns have also limited its use at the consumer level. Mandates from such giant retailers as Wal-Mart and Metro are slowly forcing processors to make investments in the system The new packaging uses the Hide-Pack system of embedding an RFID inlay within the structure of a package, corrugated case or folding carton, so that the inlay is not visible from the outside or the inside of the package. The layers of packaging adhesive encapsulating the preserve the inlay's performance under detrimental conditions such a condensation resulting from cold storage and immersion in water, the two companies claimed. "Hide-Pack allows suppliers to scale RFID compliance across multiple SKUs (stock keeping units) and improve supply chain visibility," the two companies stated in releasing the product. By eliminating or reducing the need for RFID printers and applicators, Hide-Pack claims it has simplified RFID adoption. In-line RFID readers and antenna create a smaller footprint for encoding, verifying and validating Hide-Pack enabled boxes, the companies claimed. Companies then avoid having to keep in stock consumables in the form of traditional RFID labels. Dwain Farley, chief executive of Domino ISG (Americas) said the new packaging would allow manufacturers to achieve RFID compliance quickly. "For our customers, compliance is now just the initial first step in adopting RFID technology," he stated. "With actual RFID-enabled boxes, visibility within the supply chain stretches from point of manufacture to point of distribution and to the sales floor." The Hide-Pack devices is compatable with a variety of package-making equipment, from corrugated cases to folding carton boxes and envelopes, the companies stated. The companies ran trials over a range of speeds of 6,000 to 18,000 units per hour on a Flexo Folder Gluer. The tests did not show any effect on productivity and the final package reject rate was 0.1 per cent or less, claimed Francois Bozet, vice president of technology at Hide-Pack. "We designed Hide-Pack to be a non-invasive system, minimally affecting current manufacturing processes and allowing packaging manufacturers to partner with their customer base to assist them to achieve RFID compliance through a value-added services offering," he stated. Domino ISG now offers Hide-Pack as part of its RFID offerings. Hide-Pack is part of a privately owned worldwide packaging, paper and tissue company. The Hide-Pack technology was developed at a corrugated container plant in Montreal, Canada.