Internet of packaging to bring the industry at the cusp of revolution?

Internet of Things (IoT) has become the buzzword for all businesses these days. The concept of connecting everything- from your watch to door locks- has grabbed the fancy of many consumers and industry honchos alike. At present, between 20 and 50 billion devices are internet compatible. Inevitably, the conclusion is that the industry is becoming omnipresent with each passing day, says Abizer Shaikhmahmud, content writer & editor at Future Market Insights.

The packaging industry is no exception. An emerging solution, Internet of Packaging (IoP) is enabling a better understanding of customers in appropriate frameworks, empowering them with knowledge about the products through labels. By imparting a unique digital identity, brands are easily able to trace, collect and share information about the product across the supply chain.

To put it simply, the Internet of Packaging is a global network of unique and machine-readable packaging that communicates with the outside world continuously via scanners and mobile devices. In this blog, we shall delve into prominent technological advancements which are likely to play a critical role in shaping the future of the global packaging industry at large.

Curious about how lucrative internet of packaging is? FMI investigates in its special talk show

The foundation of Internet of Packaging is Smart, Connected and Intelligent Packaging. ESOMAR-certified market research company Future Market Insights (FMI) recently concluded a talk show on the Rise of Intelligent Packaging. As per its findings, the market for intelligent packaging will likely be valued at US$19.7 billion (€17.51 billion) by 2021-end. By 2030, it is likely that 35% of pouches, bags and boxes are expected to be intelligent. Also, out of every US$1,000 (€888.65) spent, around US$20 (€17.77) is dedicated to intelligent packaging. Given this highly lucrative scope, it is evident that internet of packaging will post credible market gains in the future.

When it comes to specific solutions, technologies such as holograms, packaging sensors & indicators, IoT and AI & machine learning are in the introductory phase. These are primarily utilised by the personal & homecare and consumer goods industries. In contrast, approaches such as 3D printing, temperature controlled packaging, AR & VR, RFID, QR codes and absorbers & scavengers have reached the growth stage. These are leveraged by automotive parts manufacturers, machinery & equipment providers, logistics & transport, healthcare & pharmaceuticals and food & beverage industries. It is expected that AI & machine learning will account for 37% of total adoption, while AR & VR, nanotechnology and other technologies (3D printing and chemical synthetics) will collectively comprise 63% of overall adoption in the forthcoming decade.

Opportunities are likely to present themselves in enhancing cold chain visibility, especially when it comes to preventing spoilage of perishable commodities. Packaging giants are likely to leverage automated data capture to further food safety compliance, improving logistics efficiency, data analytics and creating enhanced customer experience. Shrink prevention remains a highly lucrative opportunity, considering that nearly 40% of food is lost between field and fork. Download the Packaging Ebook for key trends anticipated to drive growth in next decade.

How has internet of packaging benefitted key industrial sectors?

  • NXP, livingPackets make it big with THE BOX intelligent shipping platform

Since February 2021, NXP and LivingPackets have collaborated on the latter’s THE BOX initiative. The new platform is an intelligent shipping parcel which reinvents smart packaging via a highly durable, connected and sustainable way. The solution is a successful implementation of NXPs trusted edge and connectivity solutions, enabling more efficient e-commerce operations with greater traceability for more convenient consumer experiences.

The introduction of this solution has signaled arrival of the “Internet of Boxes”, and is powered by the NXP iMX RT1062 crossover microcontroller unit, along with NFC technology front-end CLRC663 plus and NTAG I2C plus connected tags. Furthermore, THE BOX is fully recyclable and infinitely reusable with a rechargeable battery, assessed for reconditioning after 1,000 trips.

The innovative holding system inside eliminates wastage such as filling materials and tapes, while labeling and printing are replaced with electronic labels displayed via an onboard tablet display. This has the added advantage of changing delivery addresses, leading to reduced carbon footprint associated with logistics.

  • How is vestapack’s connected packaging helping mitigate plastic waste?

Concerned about churning out notoriously heightened quantities of non-biodegradable plastic waste? Vestapack is here to save the day. Using IoT technology, the company extends its intelligence of logistic networks right into the home.

The company offers biodegradable containers equipped with alarms which are set off when contents inside them are in less quantity. The mechanism is controlled by a mobile application, deciphering user patterns and provide complete tracking of packages in transit.

With its innovative solution, Vestapack aims to reduce a significant amount of plastic waste generation and accumulation by 2023. Given the fact that more than 8 million tons of plastic is discharged into oceans each year, this initiative is indeed a significant milestone to be achieved.

  • Thaddeus medical iQ-ler making headway in the healthcare & pharmaceutical sector

When it comes to transporting pharmaceutical products, the biggest concern is about spoilage due to exposure to unfavorable temperatures. It is estimated that around US$35 billion (€31.10 billion) are lost each year to temperature abuse in the pharmaceutical industry. Fortunately, stakeholders have working unceasingly to develop novel packaging solutions aiming to offset this problem.

One such development is the Medical iQ-ler all-in-one solution with a patented hardware and software platform, developed by Thaddeus, a U.S-based start-up. Safely and securely transporting temperature sensitive medical items, this development is especially significant, as it is typically effective in storing, transporting and acting as a dispensary unit for vaccines, including the COVID-19 MRNA ones.

Equipped with real-time GPS satellite tracking and cellular-enabled communication, detection of temperature zones, biometric pressure & humidity and a Bluetooth smart padlock on the hardware front, the solution offers a safe and secure way of transporting essential pharmaceutical formulations. On the software front, a cloud-based platform provides transparency and connectivity, while data from the device sensors is stored in a centralised location for insights and aggregation.

The future of internet of packaging where to go from here?

The scope for internet of things enabled packaging is indeed immense for the years to come. As multi-functionality emerges as the buzzword, industry stakeholders are leveraging smart and intelligent solutions for combating counterfeiting, besides ensuring product security.

Furthermore, as customer relationships acquire precedence, brand manufacturers are relying on smart packaging to enhance customer engagement. Capitalising on this trend, packaging leaders and brand manufacturers are likely to generate dynamic touch points, enabling them to provide relevant product information, leading to highly personalised marketing.

Abizer Shaikhmahmud

As transparency becomes a cornerstone in the global packaging domain, efforts are underway to provide as much accurate information as possible, especially with regard to the materials used during the packaging process. A deepening understanding of the circular economy model is prompting greater strides towards including more sustainable packaging material, which, when combined with robust technological tools, has the potential to reduce environmental footprint.

We will truly achieve the Internet of Packaging revolution when there is a new dimension of connectivity beyond consumers and the product within – when packaging also communicates with the storage device, an intelligent cold storage for example. Bold innovations like these will usher in a new era.

Abizer Shaikhmahmud, content writer & editor at Future Market Insights.

About the author

Abizer Shaikhmahmud is a content writer & editor at Future Market Insights, an ESOMAR-certified market research and consulting market research company. He has written extensively about evolving trends in Packaging and allied industries. You can connect with Abizer on LinkedIn.

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