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Naxis: pioneering sustainable innovation in apparel

Article - January 31, 2024

Founded in 1897, Naxis is a leading apparel auxiliary material manufacturer committed to innovating solutions that promote greater sustainability in the sector, including cutting-edge RFID

As it is across the entire global economy, sustainability is today one of the major challenges facing the apparel sector. It is estimated that about 10,000 clothing items go into landfills every five minutes due to the modern fast fashion trend. Japanese manufacturers such as Naxis are at the forefront of industry innovation aimed at improving sustainability in this field, pioneering environmentally friendly materials such as the Econax-cello, a packaging material made from wood pulp-derived viscose as an alternative to petroleum-based films.

“We develop, manufacture, and sell eco-friendly products, but we recognize that we have only just scratched the surface of addressing sustainability,” says Taiho Nakamura , CEO of Naxis, which has been an apparel auxiliary material manufacturer for over 125 years.

“The essence of sustainability involves more than simply offering environmentally friendly products. What we are focusing on as the essence of sustainability is how we can contribute to solving the problems of excessive production and excess inventory in the apparel industry. Traditionally, lead times in this field have been quite long, with manufacturers producing numerous items and keeping them in stock without a clear understanding of actual demand or future trends.”

The company’s RAIN RFID (UHF RFID) solution, which was launched in 2005, is now one of Naxis’ major products and provides an effective way to prevent such problems of excess endemic in the apparel sector, today producing more than one billion RAIN RFID tags a year.

“By introducing RAIN RFID solution and using it correctly, manufacturers are able to understand inventory status in real-time. Furthermore, by properly managing inventory, you can increase the accuracy of demand forecasts and more realistically grasp the amount of inventory needed in the future,” explains Mr. Nakamura.

Besides its RAIN RFID solution, Naxis – which globally delivers labels and packages from seven production sites and employs 2,000 people across Asia – has also developed its proprietary Naxis Relational Database (NRD), a web order placement system for auxiliary materials. Its Implant Naxis Platform (iNAP) additionally provides clients with an in-plant printing system.

“In the traditional business model, we would create tags and products after receiving orders and then deliver them to our customers. By using NRD and iNAP, we can install tag printing machinery within our clients' factories,” says Mr. Nakamura. “Orders are still processed through NRD, but the actual production takes place on-site. To ensure top-quality results, we carefully select materials and configure the machinery to operate in multiple languages to suit different regions. This allows us to provide a comprehensive software solution service while maintaining consistent quality. Our initial focus for this project is centered around the ASEAN region, and this direction aligns with our commitment to contributing to the reduction of excess production by making lead times shorter within the industry.”

The RFID technology which Naxis specializes in is a form of wireless communication that incorporates the use of electromagnetic couplings and allows the unique identification of objects, people and even animals. The technology has seen rapid growth in recent times, however some of the challenges it faces include reader collision where one tag from an RFID can interfere with another. Furthermore, materials like metal can impact the signal, and sometimes they are not as accurate as bar codes. Naxis is one of many industry innovators working to overcome these challenges.

“Recognizing our customers' thinking on the matter, we are actively working to enhance their understanding of the limitations and technical constraints associated with RAIN RFIDs,” says Mr. Nakamura. “We believe it is crucial to consider the incorporation of barcodes and QR codes alongside RAIN RFID technology to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of each combination and choose the most suitable option. RAIN RFID can either replace or complement barcodes. Essentially, any products with barcodes can use RAIN RFID. Our primary focus now is on the widespread integration of RAIN RFID tags into various items.”

This technology’s current phase is reminiscent of the early days of the Internet, particularly in Japan in 1995 when households first began adopting computers and connecting to the Internet. Back then, while people had internet access, they were not entirely sure how to make the most of it. It was only as internet usage spread globally that new services like Yahoo, Google, Facebook, and others emerged.

“We see our current endeavor as comparable to these early stages of internet adoption,” says Mr. Nakamura. “By spreading RAIN RFID tags into a wide range of products, we are creating an interconnected environment. This network of RAIN RFID tags will serve as a foundation, and we are actively preparing the stage for new players who specialize in software to identify and leverage the potential of this established RAIN RFID tag network. Our role is to create this essential network and await the entrance of innovative industry players who will further develop systems based on it.”