Smart Packaging Innovations
The concept of Smart Packaging Solutions was a hot topic at AIPIA World Congress this year, and it is gaining in prominence as an essential tool for any company wishing to maintain its competitive edge and customer base during the coronavirus pandemic. The smart packaging concept essentially refers to the use of sensors and indicators to help monitor, track, or enhance a package’s performance. This may include detecting bacterial growth, indicating temperature disruption, and alerting the consumer to potential risks, among other applications.
These smart packaging systems are a crucial tool for companies in industries like food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, and agriculture, where it’s vital to keep tabs on product quality, freshness, tampering, and movement through the supply chain. Technologies such as printed electronics and near-field communication (NFC) are allowing these smart packaging systems to take on a range of functions, including tracking the location and status of products through a network of transmitters and receivers.
For instance, a smart label from the company Authena can be embedded into a packaging solution to enable secure authentication of a product’s identity and integrity. This can help stop counterfeiters and black market trading, as well as resolve traceability issues and improve transparency.
Other intelligent packaging tools are designed to make it easier for consumers to access product information and use a package. A sensor-equipped bag from the company Bower Collective enables consumers to scan on-pack QR codes for directions, provenance information, and other engagement content. This technology also helps streamline logistics and supply chain operations by allowing companies to gather data on where products are, how they’re moving, and the specific details of their environment.
Moreover, smart packaging can help companies combat the occurrence of false products operating under their brand name during a crisis. This is an ongoing issue, as counterfeiters can often duplicate a product’s appearance, brand, and labeling. These fakes can be dangerous to consumers and can also erode a firm’s reputation. Luckily, many smart packaging solutions, such as temperature indicators from the company Varcode, can detect the presence of these fakes and alert consumers to potential hazards.
Several smart packaging innovations are in the pipeline to enhance the user experience. In particular, augmented reality technology is allowing brands to bring on-pack messages to life, making the interaction between product and consumer more interactive and engaging. However, some of these tools are still in their early stages, and it’s hard to develop a solid business case until they are further developed and proven in the marketplace. This is why cross collaboration across multiple fields — manufacturing, analytical science, predictive models, data analytics, and criminology — are necessary to define a systematic approach to integrating these technologies into industrial supply chains. Only then can we fully realize the full potential of these innovative technologies to help companies thrive in a time of crisis and uncertainty.