What is smart packaging and why is it important?

Smart packaging is fundamentally changing the way of using labels, tags, and packages while creating a digital bridge between the customer, dealer, manufacturer, logistics provider, and any other parties. Users are not only worried about how the wrapping that encloses the item but how it holds and covers what is within. They also value that it is simple to use, compact, and well-organized.

Some innovations in product design are practical rather than technological, such as vacuum-sealed containers. Other modern smart packaging technologies will do even better and have the opportunity to benefit from astounding improvements as technology advances. Through the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT), a huge, distributed computer network made up of gadgets and devices, packaging technology is spreading out through data sharing for the “connected” houses of tomorrow. Maybe tomorrow’s refrigerators will give you a warning when they’re nearly running out of staple products, rather than making you find out it yourself when you open them randomly.

A smart packaging device has been developed to identify any degradation that may occur from the stage of manufacture to the stage of consumption which is increasingly relevant today. Smart packages with different structural characteristics and intended applications have different types of mechanisms.

Time-Temperature Indicators change color to benefit customers for information.  These indicators are susceptible to environmental conditions, showing the chemical, enzymatic, microbial, and mechanical variations that arise in the substance as a result of external influences, such as heat and humidity, through color change. It, therefore, has a large area of application. It can be put on goods one by one or placed in boxes or barrels depending on the transporter.

Freshness indicators are devices that make possible the identification of chemical issues that may arise within a product due to failing to provide acceptable storage conditions. It can be used as a box label or as a packaging tag. It allows easy observation of changes in the gas that arise in the package.

RFID (Radio Frequency Identification System) is a system used to detect items utilizing radio frequency waves. RFID, which is used to monitor the product through the processing and distribution phase, may hold basic details such as the patch number of the item as well as more complicated data such as temperature changes, nutritional information, or consumption details.

Besides, smart packaging or combined packaging often involves complete details, robotics, advertising, or security capabilities, through LEDs, augmented reality, NFCs, microphones, radio chips, or screens. One example is smart drug packaging with embedded RFID chips, LEDs, and mini speakers that record the movement of tablets and send an alert if taken inappropriately or even alert the patient’s doctor.  The same applies to packages with NFC chips which, using an NFC device (e.g. mobile phone), make it feasible to interpret the package tag and reorder the drug.

Extended packaging provides smartphone owners with extra-label details on origin, manufacturing conditions, or components. By scanning RFID chips, the details can be obtained through the Internet by using the required app.

Future of Smart Packaging

Smart Packaging is only at the beginning of digital transformation, but it looks promising. While smart packaging technology is now present in several fields, its widespread deployment is still seen as too pricey. According to a report by the Organic Electronics Association, printed electronic devices may be ready by 2021 to deliver cost-effective widespread adoption. Market intelligence experts at IDTechEx forecast that international sales of smart packaging will rise from US$75 million to US$1.45 billion by 2023.