RFID chip in plastic wrapping keeps an eye on tampering

By Susan Gotensparre

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Supply chain Rfid

A new radio frequency identification (RFID) chip has been developed
by Pliant and IBM that can not only track drug products through the
supply chain but also identify when a product has been tampered

US-based leading packaging manufacturer Pliant has teamed up with IBM to develop the tamper detection technology on a pilot-scale. The technology combines plastic packaging film, circuitry and RFID tag to track down where in the supply chain a package has been interfered with.

The smart technology market is driven by the need for new clinical trial compliance and brand protection measures, with the demand for new developments within RFID used in pharmaceuticals creating a market valued at $18 million during 2005. And it will potentially reach to $464.8 million in 2012, according to a Frost & Sullivan report.

"We, Pliant, felt that there was a great need, in today's world, for an effective way to not only track and trace a package, but to enable the packaging or film, in this case, with an electronic mechanism that could detect a "gross" tampering event within the supply chain via no-line-of-sight​," Bill Barlow, Pliant product development engineer, told In-PharmaTechnologist.com.

"So, our customers would then be equipped with a packaging tool to determine when and where their product was compromised​."

The tamper monitoring system works by combining stretch wrap - printed with conductive circuitry - and RFID technology. The combination of chip and stretch wrap functions as a powered circuit around the package. If tampered with, the RFID chip will cease to function effectively and allow users to track down the point of interference using a RFID portal system or by a hand held device.

"IBM is responsible for coupling the information on the RFID with Pliant's current internal system. They were instrumental in developing the software and middleware that would serve as both a tracking system as well as a tamper detection system​," added Barlow.

The pilot project tracked and traced shipments between two of Pliant's facilities, one in Newport News, Virginia and the other in Chippewa Fall, Wisconsin.

"The technology has been proven and we are optimising. However, if there are some customers driving the technology home, there could quite possibly be a move to the market in the near future...at least we would hope so​," said Barlow.

Pliant is a $1.2 billion company that focuses on packaging films and products but has also attracted support from the US Department of Defense to detect tampering with military rations.

Related topics Drug Delivery QA/QC

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