What Is Smart Packaging
Smart Packaging is the addition of a communication capability to a package that can enable it to track, monitor and communicate with the environment and its contents. This can take the form of indicators and sensors that are incorporated into the package or on its surface, but it can also include smart labels and tags.
The Smart Packaging Solutions industry is currently undergoing rapid expansion, and many businesses are now seeking to integrate some level of intelligence into their product and packaging systems. This enables them to collect data and analytics about the product during its life cycle, and use this data to improve their production processes and enhance user experiences.
Companies using intelligent packaging can gain a number of advantages over their competition, including better supply chain efficiency and enhanced consumer engagement. These benefits will ultimately translate into higher levels of brand loyalty for the company and its products.
Some of the most common applications of smart packaging are tracking and tracing technologies, which are used to verify the integrity of a given product, especially in the food and beverage sector. For example, smart packaging can be used with time-temperature indicators to monitor whether a packaged food is safe for consumption after it has been shipped and stored at different temperatures during its journey from manufacturer to retailer.
This type of smart packaging can also be used to monitor the quality of pharmaceutical products and other medical supplies, helping to prevent counterfeiting and improve the overall safety of the patient experience. Smart packaging is also increasingly being deployed to support the digitalization of the supply chain. Embedded sensors can provide data about the location, temperature, pressure and humidity of a shipment during transport to give manufacturers a more accurate picture of their overall supply chain performance.
Another important application for smart packaging is the ability to communicate with consumers directly. This can be done through augmented reality, which provides a digital overlay on top of a physical product, or through the use of scanners that allow consumers to access a range of information about a particular item. Many fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) brands now offer QR code compatible packaging that can be scanned to reveal a variety of details about the product, from nutritional facts to ingredients and other important features.
A further development is printed electronics, which embeds electronic components into the packaging material itself. This allows a package to monitor its own condition, and to send alerts to customers in the event of any anomalies or problems. For example, a smart medicine container could be programmed to monitor each pill that is taken from the package and sound an alarm if the wrong dosage is taken.
Despite the significant potential of smart packaging, some barriers remain. For instance, many of the more sophisticated applications that rely on embedded sensors to track and trace, geo-locate, monitor shock and temperature, or interact with the consumer require sensor technologies that are still relatively expensive and not yet affordable for use in primary packages. However, the cost of these technologies is continuing to decline and will eventually reach a point where they can be deployed in more mainstream packages.