It has been recording stable growth and is going to become even more important in the coming years: the German RFID market. Driven by the growing demand for automation and higher efficiency, the utilization of RFID in the supply chain has seen particularly strong development. Schreiner Group is an internationally operating specialist in innovative high-tech labels and RFID solutions. In an interview, Katharina Totev, Product Manager RFID at Schreiner Group, explains why there is still plenty of potential for growth in that market.
Ms. Totev (Katharina), can you briefly describe what changes you have perceived in recent years?
Customer behavior has changed completely in the past decade. Where RFID technology was still associated with unfeasible expectations just a few years ago users, now, are perfectly aware of all the things that are possible—and that is what they demand. Our job is to implement ideas and wishes and to find suitable materials and solutions. At Schreiner Group, we have the major advantage that our experts at our in-house LogiData competence center are constantly working on the further development of RFID solutions.
When you say that customers know what they want—what, in your opinion, is the problem that still exists in the marketplace?
The problem is that the technology is being used only selectively! Let me give you an example: Many automotive OEMs have recognized the trend and are now increasingly using RFID labels for component tracking. The situation with many tier 1s is totally different. Only few suppliers are using the technology’s full potential to optimize their manufacturing processes. This means that even if the OEM specifies the utilization of an RFID label they often work with an additional barcode. And that, exactly, is the crux! We must think ahead, educate and, above all, leave our comfort zone! RFID can fully display its potential benefits when it is used across all the stages of the supply chain. That requires a one-time system adjustment that has not yet been initiated everywhere. However, in my view, such a change is worth the effort and there is no way around it either
The market is one thing but what about the specific development of products or applications?
In addition to conventional applications in logistics such as container management, customization has clearly taken center stage: personalized, customized, and programmed RFID labels. Lock-and-key applications, so-called item match control solutions, are a case in point. That is where you have fully customized product protection using encrypted RFID labels, a parameterization of the customer’s device due to the data of the label.
That not only enables automation of the consumables ordering process but also provides users with enhanced transparency.
If, as a company, you offer your customers additional personalized services such as predictive maintenance, you can gradually start exploiting the full potential of this technology. So, in that respect, I feel that personalized item match control will become an important element.