Integrating RFID into the Bottling Process

Food and Beverage

Insert Molded RFID into a High Speed Beverage Application
by Erin J. Wolford

One of the problems in the beverage bottling industry is that the machinery goes so quickly that a delicate part of the filling equipment often breaks off. By the time the machinery is completely stopped to repair and clean up the equipment, the part could be lost into a can/bottle and not be found. This is a major liability and a huge time and revenue waste for the bottler.

So, a couple of young entrepreneurs came up with the idea to incorporate RFID (radio-frequency identification) into the bottling process. RFID uses electromagnetic fields in a wireless format, which transfers data without having to be within line-of-sight. The RFID tag goes into the delicate part that often breaks off during the bottling process, and then the broken part could easily be found using RFID frequencies, even when the can or bottle is already sealed.

In Search of a Precision Injection Molder

The pair of entrepreneurs were looking for a precision injection molder that could mold the very small RFID and small copper wires inside of the delicate part. After bringing their project to multiple molders, they found a molder in Texas that would take on their challenge. But, after countless hours of explaining what needed to be done, the molder ultimately told them that it could not be done, by any company nor in any fashion. The pair eventually came to HQC, which had been molding these very materials that the Texas-based molder said could not be molded.

“The two gentlemen found HQC, and we examined the mold, and were able to take the existing mold, mold the two types of materials together, and deliver the prototype to the beverage filler in less than 2 weeks,” said Blair Pasternak, president of HQC, Inc.

Pasternak continued, “We had to ultimately redesign the mold, so that they could improve their process. They had major beverage companies in the St. Louis area that were waiting on this piece to be completed, so we were definitely on a time crunch.”

HQC Up for the Challenge

“There are multiple materials that were Thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs). Another challenge was now, they wanted these molded from Thermoplastic elastomers, Acetal and polypropylene. We went ahead and molded the different materials, all of which worked,” said Pasternak.

“They were able to go to their beverage fillers and actually get them into a production state. With first product samples delivered for approval within 8 weeks, just a few months later, we had done this product completed start-to-finish,” declared Pasternak.

There are a lot of CPGs and processing companies looking to mold RFID tags into food and beverage products and packages. This is definitely something unique that precision injection molder HQC is able to complete – in a professional and timely manner. Be sure to contact HQC directly for more information on a project that you would like completed.