While smart packaging is still in its early growth days, the potential application and merits of integrating this new practice are immense. As the name suggests, smart packaging offers packaging with extended functions. It includes all sorts of technologies intended to achieve more than mere packaging. With modern companies seeking to invest in sustainable solutions, the smart packaging industry is expected to reach $40 billion by the end of 2020. Below is a brief overview of what encapsulates smart packaging, including its applications and benefits.
Types of Smart Packaging
There are two primary types of smart packaging, as follows:
1. Active Packaging
In active packaging, the package interacts with what’s inside and the goal is often to increase the product’s shelf life. The packaging comes into direct contact with the product to release compounds that enrich the medium, or eliminate components from the immediate environment. Manufacturers use various elements depending on the product being shipped, but the most popular choices include light filtering materials, ethylene absorbers, oxygen absorbers, moisture-control, antimicrobial coating and more. A great example is adding oxygen absorbers to the cap in a plastic beer bottle, which increases the shelf life from three to six months.
2. Intelligent Packaging
On the other hand, intelligent packaging focuses on communicating with the outer world, rather than mere packaging. This type of packaging adds diagnostic and indicator functionality. They can also be used to fulfill automation, marketing and customer engagement. Essentially, intelligent packaging involves sensors and indicators that monitor the product’s condition to provide information about the status. This includes tightness, temperature, freshness, storage time and so forth. For instance, food packaging may change color to indicate leaks or salmonella contamination. There are several other ways intelligent packaging can be used to monitor product conditions.
Benefits of Smart Packaging
There are several devices in the IoT (internet of things) that can communicate with smart packaging. Today, packages can be equipped with tiny electronic components that add functionalities, such as Bluetooth, alarms, RFID chips, LED lights and loudspeakers. These components communicate to achieve the protective function and promise impressive conveniences wherever they are used. A good example is when they are used in medicine packaging to monitor use. The package may monitor each pill you take from the container and sound an alarm if you take the wrong dosage. Here’s a look at the key benefits of smart packaging:
I. Customer empowerment
With technologies such as QR, RFID and NFC, intelligent packaging offers an impressive customer interface that can be used to learn more about the purchased product. Scanning a QR code on a food package, for instance, can take the customer directly to a resourceful page with all the dietary concerns, ingredient research and nutritional value. Another example is a proprietary technology packaging that may lead customers to “how-to” guides and user manuals accessible via their smartphones.
II. Quality control
With advanced sensors and indicators, packaging can be designed to help monitor the condition of a product and indicate whether it is good or compromised. Some packaging can increase shelf life by removing the unwanted particulates from the medium, while others help to detect counterfeit offers. The result is easier access to genuine quality products from the manufacturer. Smart packaging also results in longer-lasting solutions.
III. Staying relevant with your customers
For a business, investing in emerging technologies is inevitable. The big task is to determine ideal practices and technologies that will impact the business positively. Smart packaging offers an advanced customer interface and a much better shopping experience. Naturally, customers will seek out better technologies and experiences, which imply smart packaging is here for the long haul. Investing in smart packaging is one way to project your company as technologically advanced and grab customer attention.
The merits of smart packaging are quite obvious and the practice provides a sustainable way to extend the functionality of product packaging to meet various other needs. For the customer, the challenge is getting used to the extra perks and sometime change old habits. On the other hand, companies have to deal with the rush of identifying technologies that work and become the first to offer them within the niche. Make sure you don’t get left behind and adopt this new technological concept before your competitors do.