Tampere, Finland – RFID capital of the world10.3.2021
The expertise in RFID technologies and R&D is exceptionally strong in the Tampere Region, with multiple global and growing tech companies. In this article three of the region’s companies share their views – meet Avery Dennison Smartrac, Confidex and FENTEC.
The roots of the Tampere Region RFID expertise go back to the 90’s when the Finnish forest industry giant UPM entered RFID business. It invested heavily in R&D and played a strong role in RFID standardization.
– UPM laid the groundwork for the RFID expertise in the Tampere Region. Later the knowhow has spread to new companies, and they’ve done very well, says Jari Kinnunen, CEO at FENTEC Group.
Today there is a remarkable amount of RFID-related tech companies in the region, and the expertise is of course developing ever further. The Tampere University of Technology (now known as the Tampere University) has been an important factor in both RFID research and education.
– The university understood the significance of RFID and established a research group that has produced many experts in this region. Me and many of my colleagues have been educated there, says Juha Virtanen, Director, Global R&D of Intelligent Labels at Avery Dennison Smartrac.
The third asset that is making Tampere the RFID capital of the world is the region itself. For many Finns, Tampere is the most desired place to live, which means the talent will readily stay in the region. It is the mix of urban life and nature that many find attractive.
– Our expertise is based on experience gained through work, and that’s why it is paramount that our personnel stays with us for a long time, says Timo Lindström, CEO at Confidex Group.
Avery Dennison Smartrac – the giant of RFID
Avery Dennison is a global materials science company that has over 30,000 employees in more than 50 countries. Their R&D in Tampere is the crown jewel of the company’s RFID development.
Avery Dennison Smartrac has invested significantly in Tampere. The R&D team keeps on growing and the size of their lab facilities was recently doubled.
– Tampere is truly in the spotlight of Avery Dennison Smartrac’s RFID development, due to the excellent talent and growth potential we have here in the region, says Virtanen.
The R&D knowhow is constantly in demand because Avery Dennison Smartrac’s RFID business is growing some 20 per cent annually. The RFID giant offers a wide variety of solutions for all possible uses.
The Tampere unit is developing customized RFID products for Avery Dennison Smartrac customers – there are thousands of variations for different uses and environments.
Textiles and clothing industry has been the driver in RFID business, and top clothing brands use the technology for their inventory management. Car manufacturers are nowadays tagging their components with smart labels for better tracking and tracing of parts. For example, when a car is customized for an individual customer, RFID tags ensure the precise use of correct components.
Confidex – business-critical RFID products
Tampere-based Confidex is a global operation since day one, from 2005. The company has a factory in China, sales offices and customers around the world. The core of the company is in Tampere: world-class R&D and technology expertise. Along the years thousands of antenna designs have been developed and tested in Tampere, thus accumulating RFID expertise.
– We are developing solutions that enable our customers to free up their resources and use them in more sensible ways. Sustainability is one of our strategic cornerstones, says Lindström of Confidex.
Confidex specializes in business-critical RFID product solutions for demanding environments: manufacturing industries, transportation and logistics. The manufacturing process of every single Volvo car starts with a Confidex RFID tag mounted on the chassis. Plant stoppage would cost 20 000 euros per minute, which means the tag really needs to be reliable.
There are around 110 major cities, where public transport ticketing is based on Confidex RFID tags and smart mobility solutions. In logistics their technology is used to track for example containers and pallets.
FENTEC – innovative turnkey solutions
FENTEC is developing innovative RFID solutions that make business operations more transparent and resource-efficient. There are two main fields in the FENTEC offering: FENTEC 24/7 solutions and data capture solutions.
FENTEC 24/7 solutions are smart spaces, cabinets and containers with automated real-time inventory tracking, providing self-service access to materials and products in unmanned spots. 24/7 solutions enable automating re-filling orders, and to minimize losses and operative work. Product consumption is predictable and resources allocated efficiently.
– FENTEC is boosting business and solving challenges for their customers with RFID solutions. We develop innovative and value-creative service concepts that will verifiably improve resource efficiency and quality, and save costs and environment, says Kinnunen of FENTEC.
FENTEC data capture solutions are applied in various fields, for example tracking the processes in manufacturing, logistics and services. With real-time data it is possible to automatize, optimize and streamline processes. More accurate data helps companies to improve their operations and predictability in a rapidly changing business environment.
FENTEC has over two decades of experience in developing RFID solutions, uniting two reputable Finnish RFID companies. The aim is to enter global markets with the FENTEC 24/7 solutions during the year 2021.
Interesting future for RFID
RFID is a growing market, because it contributes to the general goal for resource efficiency and automatization. There are plenty of applications that are technically possible, but not all of them will pay for themselves, yet. That’s why there won’t be an RFID tag on every single cereal box too soon, but a container full of cereal boxes probably has one already.
– We tend to think that when tags cost one eurocent apiece, the markets will explode. That’s not very close at the moment, but we are of course doing our very best to lower the price, says Virtanen of Avery Dennison Smartrac.
The RFID markets are wide and diverse enough for the Tampere Region companies to distinguish from each other. There is some competition between them, but also cooperation. They all share the basic RFID idea: to enable their customers to do more efficient and environmental-friendly business.
Author: Päivi Stenroos
Photos: Laura Vanzo