Pathway to profit through smart packaging innovations

Tuesday, 03 February, 2015

Active and intelligent packaging technologies are already seen by many brand owners and retailers as a route to increasing profits or improving the bottom line through savings in the supply chain.

Interactive packaging can enhance the consumer experience as well as provide useful insights into customer behaviour and as smart money follows smart ideas, venture capital inflows into active and intelligent packaging seem to be accelerating rapidly.

Delayed ripening and shelf-life extension

Cellresin Technologies’ SmartFresh binds to plant ethylene receptors blocking the ethylene effect, thus delaying ripening and extending storage life.

The active ethylene inhibitor can be introduced into a number of packaging formats at no extra cost to the process, including multilayer materials where it is placed in the middle ‘print’ layer. It is released as a gas via the natural respiration of water vapour from the produce. With an estimated 30% of broccoli lost due to spoilage along the supply chain, it is estimated that, using the most recent figures available, the inhibitor technology could save as much as $240 million each year.

Printed electronics

Several printed electronics products are ready for full market rollout, including Thin Film’s Smart Label, which can combine a temperature indicator, product authentication and expiration date trigger. An example is the MedTracker from TempTime, under joint development with Thin Film. And AdherTech is currently testing its Smart Pill Bottle, which can track and improve patient compliance, with three of the major pharmaceutical companies, as well as online pharmacies.

Self-heating technology

RBC Technologies has developed packaging that can be heated anytime, anywhere without wires, batteries or a flame.  The product is being commercialised for use in the DJO Global thermo-formable Rapid Splint with Exothermix product line.

The RBC self-heating technology is based on a derivative of hearing aid battery chemistry, which scavenges oxygen from the air to power the heating reaction. As opposed to other ‘self-heating’ technologies, the reaction is air activated, making it inherently safe, but also very powerful.

Many other functional packaging-enabled products are in the development pipeline for use in medical device, military and consumer packaged goods applications. The uses for the technology range from heat-assisted drug delivery and customisable medical devices to self-heated meals and personal care products like wipes and lotions.

Add games

SMARTRAC is using RFID technology for use in the games industry. There is a range of opportunities for games to interact with physical merchandise, based on game characters, or add value to ordinary packaged products, such as cereals that include games or a range of downloadable features.

Opportunities for distribution charges to increase game participation through the on-pack promotions and access, measurable promotion campaigns, freemium-to-premium games, cross-licensing between brands and game merchandise business are just the start.

Overt and covert protection

Quantum dots are chemically engineered nanoparticles that possess 20+ unique corresponding properties and characteristics and their signatures may be detected in the field by the use of handheld devices and forensically with sophisticated laboratory equipment, according to the Quantum Technology Group.

Quantum dots may be used as an overt or covert protection system and combined with other security technologies such as synthetic DNA, phosphors, holograms, security ink and more. They are suitable for use on a wide variety of substrates including polymers, paper, metals and glass. The use of quantum dots as the next-generation security technology represents overwhelming challenges to counterfeiters, said Quantum’s Daniel Forte.

The new technologies above were all featured at the Active and Intelligent Packaging Industry Association (AIPIA) 3rd Congress, which took place alongside Pack Expo International and PharmaEXPO last November in Chicago. AIPIA’s mission is to decimate supply chain costs, reduce waste and increase profitability by the implementation of high-tech solutions in packaging.

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