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More from paper and wood

Global forest products group UPM develops and commercialises a range of innovative product and service solutions for business needs through its Corporate Venturing activities. Recent projects include RFID applications, electronic paper, smart labels, and a new wood-plastic composite – all of which open up new opportunities for extending the reach of the forest products industry.

RFID (radio frequency identification) technology has developed very rapidly since the launch of the European single market and other developments in the world economy, all of which are putting increasing pressure on companies to make their supply chains more efficient and more secure. UPM Raflatac, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of paper and film labelstock, has been very much part of this development, and is a leading supplier of RFID tags and inlays globally today.

UPM Raflatac specialises in the cost-effective, high-volume production of HF and UHF tags and inlays, with an emphasis on quality, product yield, and performance – for applications in a vast array of end-uses, including retailing, pharmaceuticals, media management, and apparel.

UPM is a world-leading supplier of RFID tags and inlays.

UPM Ella Store Labels

UPM Ella Store Labels are a good example of how RFID technology is being applied to the needs of retailers

The UPM Ella electronic price label solution combines the physical and optical properties of paper and the efficiency-generating benefits of electronic price displays. UPM Ella Store Labels give retailers the speed, accuracy, and time savings they need to deal with rapidly changing prices, high inventory turnover, and seasonal sales peaks.

UPM Ella price labels and shelf-edge labels work with most existing cash register systems. The e-paper used in the solution’s electronic price labels looks just like paper equivalents and can be attached in the same way. The labels can be changed in the blink of an eye, via pre-programmed deployment or a hand-held device on the shop floor. Updated price information is immediately visible on labels, scales, and cash registers.

The result is a highly reliable solution for retailers that enables them to serve their customers better, while also improving the profitability of their locations and streamlining their overall operations.

UPM Ella Store Labels combine the physical and optical properties of paper and electronic price displays into a tool that brings a new level of convenience to retailers and consumers.

Smart labels for the food industry

UPM has also developed a smart packaging solution to help consumers and the food industry monitor and self-assess the shelf life of produce. Known as UPM Shelf Life Guard, this brings a new level of functionality to packaging.

UPM Shelf Life Guard monitors the integrity of the protective gases used in food packaging and can tell the consumer if a product is safe to eat. If air has entered and altered the gas balance, the label turns from transparent to blue. Air entering a package can quickly result in microbial growth, loss of colour, aroma, and nutritional value, or physical changes such as drying and rancidity.

The best of both worlds

In line with its commitment to protecting the environment, UPM also focuses on areas such as using its raw materials as efficiently as possible. One of the solutions that it has developed as a result of this commitment is UPM ProFi – a new material that combines the best qualities of wood fibre and plastic through innovative recycling.

The principle raw material for this wood-plastic composite is surplus paper and plastic from UPM Raflatac’s label materials production.

The first commercial product made of UPM ProFi – UPM ProFi Deck – is ideal for patios, playgrounds, and jetties. The product has proved very durable, easy to handle, and can be used just like wood. No chemicals are required to protect surfaces, and UPM ProFi can be disposed of by incineration, recycled as material, or mixed with normal household or energy waste.

UPM ProFi Deck is the first commercial product to be made of UPM ProFi, and is ideal for patios, playgrounds, and jetties.

More from biomass

Elsewhere on the environmental arena, UPM is preparing to become a significant producer of renewable biofuels. Production will be based on wood-derived biomass, and will be located adjacent to existing UPM pulp or paper mills to take advantage of the material flows at these sites.

The biomass-based fuels used will be both forest fuels and side-products generated during wood handling and pulp production. These include black liquor, de-inking sludge, bark and wood residues, stumps, thinnings and logging residue, and wastewater treatment sludge. A number of these materials are already used to generate energy, and the new initiative will take UPM’s utilisation of biomass even further. The company expects its first commercial biofuel unit to be given the go-ahead in the next few years.

> Anu-Maarit Kuismin
(Published in HighTech Finland 2008)