University academics and Advanced Material Development (AMD) are working with Quantum Physics researchers, sociologists at the University of Sussex Business School digit centre and Walmart to understand how more environmentally-friendly radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags are developed, implemented and affect employment in the retail sector.
Materials scientist Professor Alan Dalton and his team have created an alternative to metal tags on clothing and food by developing antennas based on graphene inks which can be printed onto paper creating a sustainable solution to an essential part of the retail supply chain.
Graphene-based nanomaterial inks, where the individual components are invisible to the human eye, have been developed as coatings which could replace metals in RFID systems and which can be applied to a range of surfaces using commercial printing techniques such as ink-jet, screen and flexographic.
John Lee, CEO of AMD, said: “Our work at Sussex in the field of highly conductive inks has partly been driven by demands from the retail industry searching for a sustainable solution in the replacement of metal content in RFID antennas. We are continuing to improve our technology for our partners in this space, with a possible large scale print trial this year […].”
Professor Jackie O’Reilly, Co-Director for the new Digital Futures at Work Research Centre at the University of Sussex Business School, said: “The potential for this technology is huge. Implementation of RFID systems can transform supply chain efficiencies for large companies with complex supplier bases and can significantly reduce inventory count time from hundreds to a handful of hours. While this is hugely beneficial for companies, there is clearly the potential for huge consequences on employment rates, worker satisfaction and wellbeing that need to be adequately investigated.”
Source: University of Sussex