Avery Dennison Acquires Smartrac!
The acquisition of Smartrac by Avery Dennison was finalized in February 2020.
The combination of the two companies creates the broadest RFID portfolio in the market. Now with seven production sites worldwide, the company is well positioned to drive growth in new and existing segments and meet high volume requirements across multiple industries. One of the areas of focus is developing the industrial segment and expanding on the opportunities within the Automotive industry.
In recent years, Avery Dennison has also invested in companies such as PragmatIC and Wiliot to further expand its technology offering.
Avery Dennison: ~30 Billion Tags Delivered to date
As the market leader in the retail sector, Avery Dennison Intelligent Labels has delivered more than thirty billion tags in recent years. "It is our continued ambition to drive market adoption within the automotive industry," says Frank Smits. "The acquisition of Smartrac will further help us to leverage and build market momentum with a broader product portfolio and expanded manufacturing footprint."
With projects at virtually all automobile manufacturers and suppliers Smartrac, founded in 2000, has approx. 900 employees and in 2019, achieved a turnover of more than 126 million Euros, in which industrial applications played an important part.
“We work very closely with almost all European automobile manufacturers and Tier 1 suppliers. By joining forces with Avery Dennison Intelligent Labels, we now have even greater resources – particularly through the cooperation with the research and development team – to support the industry even more effectively,” says Lauri Hyytinen, who believes that “automotive processes are ideally suited for the use of RFID technology.”
7 Production Sites Worldwide
With the integration of Smartrac into the Avery Dennison Intelligent Labels Business, an RFID company is being created that has seven production sites world-wide. Avery Dennison already has manufacturing facilities in China, Mexico and Romania. The acquisition adds four production plants in China, Malaysia, Germany and the USA with a total capacity of 10 billion RFID tags per year.
Smartrac’s MiniWeb and Dogbone are precisely tailored to the requirements of the automotive industry. Both inlay designs are available in VDA-compliant versions. Numerous companies rely on the RFID-related recommendations of the VDA, which require a chip with an EPC memory of at least 240 bits.
Smartrac focuses on solutions for on-metal applications in its product development. "The result is our inlay 'Skyline' which is an highend product for the identification of metallic items," reports Lauri Hyytinen. "A technological USP of Avery Dennison in the development of high-tech RFID labels is the material knowhow.
This includes the facestock materials of the labels, the adhesives, and all other components. The in-house ability to subject materials and finished labels to testing according to automotive standards is also an advantage," says Frank Smits.
Large Quantities Come With Reasonable Prices
Representatives of the automotive industry and technology specialists have joined forces in VDA working groups to develop VDA recommendations for the implementation of RFID in the automotive industry. "With the trend of high-volume tagging, the price of labels will become an increasingly decisive factor. In retrospect, RFID tagging in the automotive industry began in prototype development. However, the higher the required volume is going to be, the more OEM and Tier 1 suppliers would like to define their own product specifications.", notes Frank Smits.
The Current Crisis in the Automotive Industry
"The global impact of Covid-19 is having a massive impact on the automotive industry. Nearly every OEM and Tier 1 supplier has cut back or temporarily stopped production. The RFID industry will likely feel the effects in the third quarter," says Lauri Hyytinen. At the same time, however, the situation also highlights the importance of streamlining production and the supply chain. Technology can be used to increasingly digitalize automation and quality management. RFID and Sensor technologies are needed more than ever to track installed components. It is the right time to work out the production of the future."
Do E-Cars Require Less RFID Technology?
"We assume that series production vehicles – whether they are powered by combustion or electricity – will have an average of 80 RFID labels per car. The increasing trend toward electro-mobility is ideally suited for the use of RFID and sensor technology. Numerous electronic components can also be checked after installation, for example, whether they have been damaged by moisture penetration," says Lauri Hyytinen.
Tier 1 Suppliers are Drivers of RFID Technology
Just a few years ago, the question was raised as to whether the automobile manufacturers or the suppliers had to bear the daily costs, but today this question has been overtaken by reality.
"The supply of already tagged parts to the assembly line is an established process today. Suppliers are increasingly offering RFID as a standard identification solution. Applying RFID labels to automotive components enables tier1’s to use the same labels for their own processes. Almost all Tier 1 suppliers are open to this technological development and are actively offering RFID tagged components to automotive OEM’s", explains Lauri Hyytinen.
"The German automotive industry for example is relying heavily on RFID technology, with a large implementation lead over all other countries, which will soon follow suit," says Lauri Hyytinen. "From warehouse to outgoing goods and shipment control – the processes in which suppliers benefit from the integration of tagged parts are more and more increasing. This will further boost the investments in RFID technology also in the automotive industry," says Frank Smits.
Cooperation with Williot
Battery-free Chip Technology
Avery Dennison has made a strategic investment in the start-up company Wiliot in recent years. Wiliot is building the first battery-free bluetooth tags, in a label format, that power themselves by harvesting energy from radio waves. Cloud-connected, bluetooth tags with no maintenance and an unlimited lifetime, open up a world where ‘Things’ can sense and offer functionality not possible before. By enabling devices as common as a smartphone or Wi-Fi gateway to identify products, applications in intelligent packaging, connected products, logistics, and asset tracking become scalable.
The common goal of Avery Dennison and Wiliot is to bring BLE technology into applications for which a cost-efficient solution did not previously exist. "With Wiliot's chip development, we will be able to massively expand the IoT potential. Since smartphones can be used as end devices and the tags do not require batteries, high investment costs in infrastructure and maintenance are eliminated. This is an important step towards intelligent labeling," says Frank Smits looking ahead.
Bluetooth, Sensors, IoT!
Smartrac has already developed numerous different sensor tags for a variety of industrial applications in the past. These include passive and semi-passive UHF sensor tags that can detect moisture and temperature. These batteryfree tags are suitable, for example, for leak testing as part of the quality control of finished vehicles. "Our development roadmap provides for further research on this topic in order to offer users the technologies they need in their processes now and in the future," emphasizes Lauri Hyytinen.
Future prospects for Avery Dennison
“The automotive industry awards companies that are able to deliver large quantities of high quality products. Together with Avery Dennison Intelligent Labels, we are in the position to combine innovative product development services in the design of RFID inlays, experience with special materials and know-how in manufacturing and converting. These characteristics make us an ideal go-to partner for the automotive industry.” Frank Smits and Lauri Hyytinen concluded together.