Smart packaging technology. Smart Packaging: Everything You Need to Know

Smart Packaging – How Technology is Embedding Intelligence into Packaging

The packaging sector is on the edge of massive transformation with emerging technologies such as AI, alternative reality, IoT, robotics, and nanotechnology in action to advance automated, connected, eco-friendly, and customized packaging solutions, as well as better, engage customers with product content and immersive purchasing experiences. Technologies such as Smart labels, QR codes, RFID tags, NFC chips, augmented reality are disrupting traditional packaging by fetching real-time information and establishing communication about products that can enhance customer experience and engagement.

Sustainable packaging is gaining traction as consumers are becoming more aware of the negative consequences of plastics used in packaging While one innovator is using sugarcane-based packaging to replace plastics in milk cartons, another is offering aluminum-free aseptic cartons packs for oxygen-sensitive products such as fruit juices. Nanotechnology is being leveraged to develop cellulose-based renewable packaging material to replace plastics, waxes, and non-biodegradable materials in packaging.

Technologies such as 3D printing and nanotechnology are providing advanced customization in packaging. For instance, stereolithographic photopolymer materials-based 3D printers are providing packaging options for material, color, and product development. Expanded polystyrene (EPS) packaging with an active protective layer leveraging nanotechnology is being used to ensure hygiene in the transportation and storage of food and protection of vegetable products, consumables, or vaccines from viral agents.

What are the key strategic challenges faced in the packaging sector?

Traditional packaging is often challenged by various factors, including rising material cost, the use of plastics threatening the environment, and creating compelling first impressions to consumers. The key challenges faced in the packaging sector include:

Distribution: The rise of e-commerce and last-mile delivery forces packaging to scale up while keeping the products inside safe and fall within health and safety guidelines.

Point of sale impression: As consumers rely heavily on first impressions, the FOCUS on the packaging is more driven towards customer interaction and engagement, convenience, and ergonomics.

Rising costs: Increasing material cost directly impacts the packaging cost, which necessitates alternative ways to reduce it through production optimization.

Sustainability/regulatory: As the world is progressing to fight climate change for a sustainable future, companies are subject to compliance with the changing regulatory standards.

Product protection: Amid growing consumer awareness, companies are obligated to translate packaging quality into customer satisfaction with a value proposition in terms of product strength and brand reputation.

Which technologies are helping the packaging sector?

3D printing, AI, AR, blockchain, Cloud, digitization, machine learning, robotics, nanotech, and IoT are the technologies that are helping the sector. The adoption of emerging technologies to address bottlenecks and accelerate innovation is significant across the value chain of the packaging sector. Some of their use cases include custom packaging, interactive packaging, supply tracking, and production optimization.

Smart packaging sector, by key technologies

What are the key use cases of emerging technologies in the Smart packaging sector value chain?

The value chain consists of packaging material production, packaging converters, filling packing, wholesale, distribution logistics, and retailers/consumers. The use cases of emerging technologies are increasing across the packaging sector value chain to broadly maximize output, minimize risk, and control cost.

Packaging material production: Technologies such as IoT and 3D printing are increasingly crucial in packaging materials production to decrease the production time and improve the strength. Key packaging vendors are leveraging 3D printing technology to improve the flexibility and efficiency to produce packaging products. 3D printers offer options such as material, color, and efficiency for design and development. Sweden’s technology startup Celwise has partnered with Pennsylvania’s machine industry company ExOne to develop sustainable packaging materials Celwise leverages metal tools 3D printed by ExOne in 316L stainless steel to transform wood and other cellulose fibers into sustainable molded fiber products that can replace single-use plastics. The key part of Celwise’s patented production method for producing the new type of molded fiber product is uniquely featured metal tooling that can only be made with additive manufacturing including ExOne’s binder jetting technology.

Packaging converters: Technologies such as 3D printing, AI, and AR are driving innovation in the packaging converters value chain to optimize design and production. Packaging system provider Gogliohas integrated standard 3D printed parts into its packaging machinery. The machine boosts the manufacturing of packaging machines, flexible laminates, and plastic accessories. Goglioaims to improve the production process to engage customers in the long run, therefore, garnering revenues.

Filling packing: Robotics is one of the major emerging technologies widely used to automate various activities like filling, labelling, palletizing, and inspection. Packaging companies are increasingly adopting AI and robotics for automated inspection to improve traceability and ensure desired quality of the final product. Italian multinational company Stevanatohas unveiled an AI-equipped robotic-controlled inspection system ‘Vision Robot Unit’ (VRU). It is designed to fulfill and adapt to emerging Smart factory needs of automated inspection that enhances the control process reliability. VRU’s ML capabilities automate the inspection of applications in the pharma development and manufacturing landscape, including biotech products such as vaccines and lyophilized drugs, and monoclonal antibodies (mAbs).

Wholesale, distribution logistics: Robots and NFC-powered supply tracking solutions find their application in the wholesale, distribution logistics value chain to improve operational efficiency. They are widely deployed for packaging assembly and to automate repetitive tasks in the warehouse. Polish robot startup No magic has introduced warehouse robots to automate the role of humans picking items up out of a box. The robots can automate repetitive tasks in warehouses that were previously carried out by humans.

Retailers/consumers: The benefits of emerging technologies are seen notably in the retailers/consumers value chain where robotics, AI, blockchain, Cloud, IoT, and ML are helping for automated replenishment, medication adherence, product authenticity, recycling, and shelf-life analysis. Automated replenishment solutions leveraging AI and ML are gaining popularity to improve operational efficiency and customer satisfaction. Finland technology company Relex has unveiled an automated replenishment and allocation solution that enables businesses to reduce their inventory, out of stocks, and food waste. The company leverages AI and ML for demand forecasting and improving planning processes across merchandising, supply chain, and operations. The new solution can be adapted according to a business’ changing needs.

Market report scope

This report provides an in-depth analysis of the following. It provides:

  • Innovation Map: key real-world innovation use cases of emerging technologies implemented by enterprises and startups in the sector.
  • Innovation Insights: innovation examples by each value chain segment of the sector to present key trends.
  • Vendor Map: represents a sample list of vendors in each use case highlighted in the report.

Smart Packaging: Everything You Need to Know

Product packaging has evolved into a highly effective brand marketing tool for both consumer and industrial products. In fact, packaging is now considered one of the 7 Ps of the marketing mix.

Over time, consumer expectations for product packaging have also evolved. Traditional packaging methods are no longer sufficient in achieving these expectations, especially with consumers who aim to reduce their carbon footprint, leading to the emergence of Smart packaging.

According to the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, packaging solutions are a critical factor in reducing food waste. Improved package design and active and intelligent packaging, which are types of Smart packaging, generate a combined net revenue of 4.13 billion. This is a significant market impact that businesses must consider if they aim to practice and satisfy the market’s growing demand for sustainability in purchased goods.

The benefits of Smart packaging go well beyond reducing carbon footprint, which is a significant contribution in itself. If your business is looking for a packaging solution that enhances your products’ safety, protection, and quality while also being a sustainable choice, consider utilizing Smart packaging solutions.

Form and Function: A Quick Rundown on Smart Packaging

Smart packaging refers to product packaging that offers extended functions beyond protection or containment of the product. These functions can include anything from embedded sensor technology that extends shelf life and monitors freshness to electronic displays that indicate the product’s quality, temperature, pH, and moisture.

Through the integration of advanced technologies, Smart packaging also allows for an immersive digital experience, making it easier to access and track information about products and brands.

Key Benefits of Smart Packaging for Your Business

The combination of several factors, such as protection, safety, convenience, and communicating product information, makes Smart packaging a powerful tool among many other available packaging solutions. Here are specific ways in which Smart packaging can benefit your brand

Smart packaging can be designed to help monitor a product’s condition using advanced sensors and indicators. For instance, some Smart packaging materials can adjust according to the ambient temperature or humidity outside and inside the package. Other Smart packaging materials can detect food spoilage and loss of quality of the products packed.

Assuring customers of the status and quality of your product can be a deciding factor in selecting your brand instead of other alternatives.

Quick Response (QR) codes, Radio-frequency Identification (RFID), Near-field Communication (NFC), and other Smart labels can supply information such as product details and operation guides, sourcing, nutritional values, and dietary concerns for food products, among others—aiding customers in making well-informed and confident purchase decisions.

Showing interest in and utilizing advanced technology can help capture the attention of existing and potential customers, especially those who are tech-savvy.

Furthermore, Smart packaging can provide an advanced customer interface and better shopping experiences as it can receive a greater amount of information than traditional package labeling. This makes it easier for customers to remember and engage with your brand.

To ensure that the perishable products customers buy are fresh and safe to eat, Smart packaging can use tiny sensors that indicate temperature and the passage of time. These notify consumers that the product is about to reach its expiration date. Other types of Smart packaging can filter out harmful light and prevent moisture and other toxic agents.

Smart packaging solutions can help businesses keep track of their products better and ensure legitimacy to their consumers. For instance, packaging can now bear unique digital IDs in the form of QR codes that can be scanned to inform the consumer about their product’s journey and confirm its authenticity.

The Current Smart Packaging Trends You Need to Know

To take full advantage of Smart packaging, brands should know how the technology is being utilized today. Here are current Smart packaging trends to consider:

RFID transponders are being integrated into packaging so the item can be tracked at all times. Not only does this help prevent theft, but it also streamlines supply chain management, transport, and logistics.

In the pharmaceuticals industry, RFID is used to track individual drug products or packaging units. These products can be recorded in a matter of seconds for inventory monitoring.

Active packaging, a type of Smart packaging, can help fight post-processing contamination and prolong the shelf life of food products. Protection against contamination is achieved by coating the food packaging’s interior with chemical compounds such as antimicrobial agents and antioxidants that can also act as preservatives to keep the product fresh.

Shelf life can be improved through Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP), which helps keep oxygen levels low to minimize the growth of harmful bacteria. Intentional packaging designs can also be used, such as creating wings inside the plastic package of meat that divert its juices away from the main meat product, thus prolonging its shelf life.

Advanced sensors and indicators help monitor a product’s condition to inform whether or not it is compromised. As discussed, certain types of packaging can increase shelf life, while others help detect counterfeits.

Indicators incorporated into packaging can change color when exposed to specific environmental conditions such as temperature. All these ensure access to genuine, consistent product quality.

Today, brands are taking advantage of digital print packaging to personalize their products and connect to social media platforms. This enhances customer experience and establishes the brand’s favorable reputation.

Furthermore, Smart packaging encourages engagement, as Smart labels provide customers with necessary information (e.g., nutritional value, usage instructions, compliance standards, etc.), which they can obtain by scanning the label.

Use-By dates on packaging were introduced as a safety measure to prevent customers from eating food that may be unsafe. However, due to date inaccuracies or confusion about what they mean, still-edible food can be unnecessarily discarded—contributing to a significant food waste problem

Smart packaging solutions, such as indicators and MAP, help minimize unnecessary wastage while improving overall safety and quality.

With more consumers aiming to make sustainable purchases, businesses are now being held accountable by their customers for the environmental impact of their overall product.

Through Smart packaging, consumers and enterprises can learn where product materials are sourced or manufactured and other relevant information. This information will influence the consumers’ decision about whether they should purchase from a brand with ethical or socially conscious attributes.

6 Tips to Maximize Smart Packaging Solutions

Leverage the benefits of Smart packaging solutions through the following tips, which can enhance your operations and allow your brand to provide an unparalleled customer experience as well.

Smart codes allow you to embed more information onto your packaging. QR codes, for instance, can communicate product details that inform the consumers about the product, its benefits, and its uses. This builds customer trust and imposes brand transparency.

Furthermore, QR codes can help you obtain demographics on sales and be used to redirect customers to your support and feedback platform.

Adding intelligent functions involves integrating different manufacturing components to connect, capture, analyze and provide business intelligence. Connecting packages to smartphones and Cloud services allows you to monitor conditions and behaviors, track supply chains, and foster interaction.

NFC tags are immensely useful in this area. Upon tapping an NFC tag on the product packaging, users are redirected to a landing page that contains information about the origin of the product, its production or manufacturing process, and points of purchase in case of repurchasing.

NFC tags also allow you to track interactions with the product in real-time, fine-tune consumer profiles, and gain insights into a campaign’s performance.

smart, packaging, technology, need

Flexible packaging comes in various forms, such as resealable pouches, stand-up pouches, microwavable pouches, and zipper and vacuum bags. It uses the best characteristics of plastic, paper, and aluminum foil to create versatile, lightweight, cost-efficient, and environmentally-friendly packaging.

By integrating flexible packaging materials with your Smart packaging solutions, you ensure that your packaging has better protection, durability, printability, and ease of use—all while improving your product’s shelf life and keeping it fresh.

Create immersive sensory experiences for when the package is opened. For instance, thermochromic inks that change color according to temperature have been widely used in the beverage industry to show when the drink is chilled to perfection. The ink can also “disappear” when in contact with the subtle heat from touch, adding an interactive element.

Packaging with augmented reality (AR) elements can provide memorable sensory experiences as well. AR involves visualizations that virtually supplement real images on a smartphone or tablet. Virtual tours, theme worlds, competitions, or operating instructions that appear on the packaging when photographed or filmed have already been made possible.

Utilize RFID codes to guarantee protection against theft. These codes are either printed on the packaging or integrated directly into it. The RFID system sends identifying signals to an RFID reader, which can be a regular smartphone, to enable automatic, contactless communication with the package.

RFID technology allows you to determine the current status of your package in a matter of seconds. You can trace your products along the entire value chain, at the factory, the warehouse, and during transit to stores and your end-users.

Unifying packaging design across online and retail can save product packaging costs by reducing packaging formats, keeping brand consistency, and maintaining operational efficiency. This is made possible with an integrated supply chain, which goes hand in hand with Smart packaging solutions.

RFID, QR codes, and NFC all collect real-time data at every step of the supply chain, ensuring better transparency and efficiency for the business and consumers. This real-time data also helps companies optimize for demand shaping and predictive forecasting, reduce the risk of inventory shrinkage, and increase the chances of better margins.

A Smart Solution: Keeping up With the Course of Technology

As Smart packaging solutions continue to evolve, the future of packaging seems promising. Ideally, packaging will increasingly operate on a system that incorporates both intelligent and conventional materials.

On one end, packaging is expected to add value and benefits across the supply chain. On the other hand, businesses are expected to use packaging to provide value and benefits for their consumers.

Although your business may not need to adopt Smart technology immediately as it emerges, try to keep up with the advancements. Continue to research innovative sustainable packaging—as it is bound to become smarter as technology evolves.

Through professional printing solutions, you can integrate Smart packaging design elements that make the most sense for your brand and products. Talk to experts from Meyers to learn how you can achieve this today.

Recent Posts

Smart Packaging Explained – What’s the Reality?

Modern packaging realities would have been unimaginable to observers studying the state of the industry decades ago. But like most progressive, demand-driven businesses the consumer packaging industry continually evolves, responding to technological advances and marketplace preferences.

Although consumer cues positively shape the direction of the contract packaging industry, technology can change the playing field altogether – leading to breakthroughs like Smart packaging. As new things become possible, the fast-growing segment is poised for further expansion, fusing creativity, and technology in unique Smart packaging designs. If you are involved in the consumer supply chain, Smart packaging is bound to play an increasingly important role in your future.

Smart Packaging Defined

Smart packaging has been a part of the landscape for years, but each new advance raises its profile. Also known as interactive packaging, intelligent packaging, or simply active packaging, the innovative approach adds another dimension of functionality to consumer packages, enabling the containers themselves to provide information about package contents.

To capture the various types of Smart packaging now in use, its definition is necessarily broad.:

In practice, substances are deliberately added to the packaging material to enhance the shelf stability of various products, better controlling the effects of time, temperature, and other variables. Used effectively, the technology bolsters the protective function of a package, resulting in better handling conditions and product integrity. Oxygen scavengers, antimicrobial agents, and various specialized barriers are examples of active packaging technology commonly used in food-related applications.

The Smart packaging subset often referred to as intelligent packaging, emphasizes the communication function of a package. Intelligent packaging sends messages to supply chain stakeholders and interacts directly with consumers and their devices. The growing use of technology responds to shifting buyer expectations, which now calls-upon savvy marketers to inform and interact with each consumer on a personal level. Applied correctly, intelligent packaging can:

  • Streamline supply-chain management
  • Assist product authentication with anti-counterfeit technology
  • Monitor pathology within a package
  • Share marketing and branding information

Smart Packaging Moves Forward

Cost-efficiency and consumer preferences drive packaging trends, so affordable Smart packaging alternatives are changing the playing field for forward-looking contract packagers. In search of supply chain integrity and transparency, it appears consumers are willing to pay extra for packaging, reflecting their lifestyle values. So as high-volume Smart packaging solutions have become more affordable, use of the intelligent designs has taken hold in pharma, automotive, health and beauty, and other specialized segments. As innovation tests new frontiers, cost-effective interactive packages are replacing standard options across the entire food supply chain. Examples include:

  • Milk containers equipped with special carton liners designed to extend the shelf life of perishable contents
  • Meat packaging labeled with Smart technology, including color-changing labels indicating the contents is beyond their expiration date.
  • Produce packaging capable of reducing food odors
  • Specialty marketing, such as a recent campaign incorporating LEDs into consumer beverage bottles
  • Time-temperature sensors furnishing feedback about perishable deliveries
  • Antimicrobial packaging used to inhibit germ growth and spoilage
  • Coded packages equipped to interact with smartphones, sharing anti-counterfeit protection, marketing messages, and direct consumer engagement

Although price competition may slow the rise of Smart packaging in some consumer segments, the technology continues to expand into new markets. The tech-forward approach syncs with lifestyles sensitive to product and supply chain integrity, so effective brand owners use Smart packages to create personal connections and stimulate brand loyalty.

As innovation and technology continue to serve-up affordable Smart packaging solutions, more and more producers will benefit from gains in quality, value, and consumer confidence.

Randy Shaw

Randy Shaw is the CEO of Assemblies Unlimited, a specialist in contract packaging, contract filling, and assembly services. Being in sales his whole career, he previously sold for ITW, Molex and an Industrial Rep firm before starting his own business in 1993. Randy was born and raised in Mt. Prospect, IL, got a B.S. degree from NIU, and currently resides in St. Charles, IL. He is married with 5 children.

Smart Packaging Solutions – Than Just A Package

A 2020 Mordor Intelligence market report published estimates growth of the global Smart packaging sector at an annual average rate of 4.5%, which would cause it to reach a whopping international value of USD 48.72 billion by 2026.

And, that is because technology has been able to elevate basic packaging as we understand it today to a vital tool for smarter manufacturing, increased sustainability, boosted customer trust, streamlined supply chain, and data-driven results.

With so much potential still undiscovered, intelligent packaging is still at its initial stages but set to take the manufacturing industry by storm over the next few years. Learn all you need to know about what Smart packaging is and the competitive edge it can give to your company in this guide offered by Authena.

What Is Meant by Smart Packaging?

Smart packaging is not a single type of packaging, but rather a technology-enhanced category of packaging solutions that aim to provide a far more active service than just passively containing consumer goods.

The world of Smart packaging has been gaining increased attention over the years also thanks to the undiscovered potential it has to increase consumer and business utility, tracking and traceability, quality control, waste reduction, and authentication.

This is possible especially thanks to emerging technologies such as product authentication software, NFC labels, and blockchain-based solutions.

The “extras” added to packaging via emerging solutions can tell the consumer a lot about how the product they are buying was manufactured, circulated, and handled. Oppositely, the same technology can be used by the business to gather data about their target markets and consumers, so that they can create more personalized, engaging, and accessible experiences for their customers.

What Is Intelligent or Smart Packaging?

As we have seen above, Smart packaging refers to a type of packaging enhanced by technology, and it is often a combination of active and intelligent packaging. Ultimately, Smart packaging has two essential features:

  • It can monitor changes in the product or the surrounding environment and deliver data to businesses and consumers.
  • It can act upon the changes that happen within or outside the product and communicate with an external interface.

Embedded sensor technology and Smart labels allow Smart packaging to deliver data regarding the product’s quality condition, authenticity, and storage. There are two types of Smart packaging:

  • Active packaging – this kind of packaging interacts with the product and aims to maintain its quality, increase shelf life, protect it from contaminants, or reduce waste. Chemical elements such as moisture controllers, ethylene and oxygen absorbers, and antimicrobial coatings are the most common agents used in active packaging.
  • Intelligent packaging – this type of packaging’s aim is to communicate details about the product to the outside world through various interfaces. Through tracking and diagnostic software, intelligent packing can provide data to streamline customer engagement, automation, and marketing.

What Is the Principle of Smart Packaging?

The core principle of Smart packaging is that technological solutions implemented in the connected packaging can be scanned to obtain information about the product’s quality, freshness, manufacturing details, movements, and authenticity.

While this principle remains at the core of Smart packaging in various industries – including food, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetic goods – the industry is in its early days and can be challenging to foresee the application of future technologies.

Benefits of Smart Packaging

In the 2020 “Beyond COVID-19: The next normal for packaging design” report by McKinsey, a “Speedier digitalization of the value chain” is considered to be one of the megatrends that will characterize the packaging industry in the post-Covid-19 era. In this video you can learn more about the other trends that are shaping tomorrow’s packaging industry.

While this change is partly driven by the consumers’ needs for authenticity and trust, it is also fuelled by an increasingly more data-driven society. Here are just a few of the benefits of considering Smart packaging for your company.

Digital Control of Quality and Expiration Date

Smart packaging has been quickly adopted by a range of industries, including the cosmetic, pharmaceutical, and food-and-beverage sectors. And, it is in these industries that Smart packaging can yield the greatest benefits. In fact, through technologies such as QR codes, RFID (Radio Frequency Identification), and NFC (Near-field communication) solutions, intelligent packaging can provide quick and affordable data about the product and its environmental conditions.

In particular, in the food industry – in which waste level is as high as 30% – Smart packaging can yield the following benefits:

  • Can provide the consumer with accessible how-to guides
  • Reduce the need for extensive and polluting labels
  • Improving accessibility for consumers with disabilities
  • Improving the monitoring of the product
  • Regulating shelf life
  • Detection of below-standard, counterfeited, and low-quality products.

Tracking Products During Shipping

It is undeniable that the transport and logistics sectors have had to adapt quickly to survive the restrictions and changes that have happened since Covid-19 hit. However, during the months of lockdown, the volume of delivery and shipping orders has boomed, thus fuelling a substantial growth of the logistics sector.

Nonetheless, companies had to undergo a digitalization process to meet the skyrocketing demand and streamline internal operations. Thanks to QR codes, NFC tags, and RFID solutions, packages are today much easier to process and track throughout the supply chain.

Protection Against Counterfeiting

Over 3.3% of the world’s trade is made of fake and counterfeit goods. The circulation of lower-price fake goods can take away a significant portion of your company’s profits and harm your brand’s reputation. In the worst-case scenario, counterfeit goods can also represent a hazard for the health and wellbeing of consumers, such as in the case of fake Covid-19 vaccines.

Through Smart packaging solutions, businesses can ensure the authenticity of the products sold and consumers can be more in control of their buying choices.

Staying Relevant With Your Customers

Smart packaging solutions can be a real game-changer for the majority of companies, especially when trying to achieve data-driven results. The pandemic prompted a fast digitalization process across all industries, and most firms that implemented digital tools in their manufacturing process realized they could squeeze far more data from their products than they thought.

Thanks to this data, companies can better understand their audiences and how they engage with the product and your brand. When leveraging this kind of information, manufacturers can create products that are more relevant for their consumers and experiences that are far more engaging.

Challenges of Smart Packaging

As we have seen above, there are endless benefits associated with introducing Smart packaging into your firm. And, as the technology evolves, more and greater opportunities are bound to reveal themselves.

Nonetheless, as shown by a Deloitte report, no application of Smart packaging has yet reached maturity. This means that this technology is still in its early stages and developing quickly, thus facing challenges related to legislation issues, cost and accessibility, and compatibility with today’s logistics sector. Here are some of the challenges that come with this product packaging.

Active and Smart Packaging

As we have learned above, Smart packaging comes in two forms: active packaging and intelligent packaging solutions. While intelligent packaging focuses on implementing technologies that facilitate the logistics, recognition, and tracking of the goods, the goal of active packaging is to enhance the performance of the good itself.

Active packaging is also an important tool in goods lifecycle management and waste reduction. Some challenges that come with active packaging are the limited research around antimicrobial packaging and the use of active compounds.

Technology Embedded in Packages

Another challenging area of Smart packaging is the research into thin-film electronics, which are essential to embedding the necessary technology into Smart packages. Smart chips, NCF labels, and RFID solutions still have a high unexplored potential to be exploited in a variety of sectors. So far, these technologies have been poorly adopted across the entire value chain, reaching the final customer.

Smart Packaging Solution in Logistics and Supply Chain

The advent of Smart packaging has fueled the digitization and digital transformation of the logistics industry and supply chain. Nonetheless, this process is still in its initial phases and may still be inaccessible for the great majority of firms – especially those that aren’t outsourcing, operating locally, or working with a small budget.

While emerging technologies have unlocked endless possibilities for a more streamlined and automated logistics industry, the sector has not yet evolved enough to support Smart packaging technologies. This means that technologies such as RFID chips and NFC tags might not be compatible with the systems employed today by the supply chain.

Integrating Smart Packaging With Software

Smart packaging technologies often require ad hoc, tailored software to visualize and organize the data collected. For example, when using QR codes as part of a labeling strategy, the user will be able to receive the product’s information via a dedicated interface.

This means that, when introducing Smart packaging in your company, you will also have to integrate the right software to collect, understand, and utilize the information gathered by your connected packaging solution.

Secure Product Authentication

Another concern that comes with collecting and using product and customer data is the ability to do so in all security. Not all real-time monitoring and tracking systems protect the security and data privacy of consumers and your business.

In particular, intelligent packaging solutions can gather data such as behavior, location, preferences, and identity of your users, which is considered nonpublic information that needs to be protected against theft.

Some of the emerging solutions to these issues include cryptography systems and blockchain.

Smart Packaging Solutions – Examples

Smart packaging and the technologies associated with it are growing at a vertiginous rate. So, it is not difficult to find examples of firms that have begun to integrate Smart solutions to tackle their business’s challenges.

But if you wish to get a glimpse of how Authena’s Smart packaging solutions can transform your business, check out the three examples below.

Smart Wine Bottle

Just under 50% of all Smart packaging applications happen within the food and beverage sector – and the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) is the one driving innovation in the Smart packaging niche.

Wine bottles are only one of the goods that can benefit from NFC encrypted tamper-proof blockchain and IoT (Internet of Things) solutions. Authena’ Smart Wine Bottle provides consumers with the peace of mind that comes from knowing every detail of the production, distribution, and handling process.

Thanks to this kind of solution, buyers can immediately identify the product and have all the necessary information about its authenticity at their fingertips. While QR codes represent a less-than-perfect attempt to restore customer trust, NFC systems are what provide the always-updated, secure, and detailed information today’s customers are seeking.

Smart Pharmaceutical Packaging

Authena’s technology has been successfully used to disrupt illegal markets and fight counterfeit – especially in those instances where these can be harmful to human health. In the field of pharmaceuticals, Smart packaging can divert illegal drugs, stop fraudsters, resolve traceability issues, and improve transparency.

By implementing a blockchain encrypted product seal, Authena’s packaging for pharmaceutical products can be tagged, traced, and instantaneously authenticated.

Smart Cosmetic Packaging

New statistics show that counterfeited goods could make up to 10% of all personal care and cosmetic products in circulation. Aside from not offering the right value to the consumer, counterfeited goods can subtract a significant portion of a company’s sales and affect brand image. In the case of illegal and unregulated fragrances, skincare, and makeup products, these fake cosmetic goods can also be harmful.

Leveraging anti-peeling NFC tags and blockchain technology, Authena’s secure platform ensures that all cosmetic products are now trackable, tamper-proof, and easy to authenticate.

How Manufacturers Can Use Digital Tools During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Only a few industries have changed as much as the logistics sector during the Covid-19 pandemic. During the months of lockdown and social distancing measures, firms reported a spike in online orders, shipping requests, and delivery services – also fuelled by the eCommerce sector’s overnight growth.

  • Streamline manufacturing and meet the rising demand
  • Revamp internal operations to reduce waste and speed up production times
  • Overcome limits to the workforce and geographical constraints

According to a McKinsey report, during the pandemic, the manufacturing industry has hit the tipping point, and the events that have happened over the past months might have changed it forever. Therefore, all companies wishing to thrive in future years should look at Smart packaging as an essential competitive edge.

Smart Packaging From the Consumer’s Point of View

Today, over 42% of consumers report mistrusting brands, and up to 70% of buyers distrust advertising. Smart packaging is an important tool that brands can use to provide accountability, traceability, and transparency so that the consumer can have all the decisive information at their fingertips.

Indeed, studies show that consumer perceptions of goods can be improved when information such as production methods, links to the manufacturer’s website, certification labels, transport tracking, and origins of ingredients are provided.

Do You Want To Work With Us?

For all companies in the food and beverage, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic sector, Smart packaging represents an important competitive edge to remain current for consumers and match the increasing market demand.

However, each company is unique, and your Smart packaging solution is unique to your project.

At Authena, we are proud to be leading the research and integration of NFC labels, IoT (Internet of Things) sensors, and blockchain solutions. Partnering with us means finding industry-leading insights and cutting-edge technologies to apply to your unique case. We also personalize our solutions to suit the product packaging designs. Get in touch today to discover a personalized solution for your firm.

‘Which Smart packaging technologies are readily available in 2018’

Amcor’s MaXQ digital system, EVRYTHNG and ScanTrust Internet of Things (IoT), Smartglyph and MagicAdd are just some of the technologies identified by PreScouter research, which has led to readily available Smart packaging in 2018.

The research team found 11 companies​ who are offering commercially available technologies based on four criteria; barcodes/QR codes; sensors/printed electronics; Augmented Reality (AR); Smart indicators/pigments and inks.

Intelligent packaging

Smart packaging can roughly be divided into two categories: active packaging, that provides functionality such as moisture and oxygen control, and intelligent packaging, that can communicate product changes and other information.

The report was prepared by Marija Jovic, project architect, Gopi Kuppuraj, global scholar and Vasambal Manikkam, global scholar, all from PreScouter, who found intelligent packaging is developing faster than ever, with technologies such as printed electronics and the IoT helping to communicate with consumers.

PreScouter 11 Smart packaging companies​

  • Barcodes/QR codes; ​Amcor, EVRYTHNG, ScanTrust, Smartglyph, MagicAdd Sensors / Printed electronics: ​ PragmatIC, Thinfilm, Water.IO.
  • AR:​ Blippar.
  • Smart indicators/pigments/ink:​ Timestrip and Insignia Technologies.

“Two main criteria were applied when scouting for companies: The solution had to be readily available and the technology had to fulfil the specs of Smart packaging​,” said Mariam Jomha, editor, PreScouter Journal.

“This was not a paid advertisement for any of the listed companies. We were set on finding a certain number of examples (on various technologies) and once the number was reached, our researchers stopped the scouting process.​

“Some of these technologies also connect to an IoT platform that gives supply chain transparency by enabling full control of the logistics and distribution chain and generates intelligent analytics that can be further optimized and controlled as desired (ie EVRYTHNG, ScanTrust, MagicAdd, PragmatIC, Thinfilm, Water.IO​.

“Companies and technologies identified in the report typically combine several elements, like brand protection, safety, convenience, and conveying product information, making their offering a potentially powerful tool in the packaging industry​.

“Worth noting is that the space for Smart/intelligent packaging is rapidly growing, and this research presents just one segment of it (i.e. technologies commercially available)​.”

The 11 companies identified were:

Amcor MaXQ ​

Amcor MaXQ, a digital packaging system featuring barcodes, print and QR codes to grow consumer engagement and loyalty. People can use their smartphones to interact with brands, discover special offers or learn new information.

When consumers scan a MaXQ code printed on the product packaging, they can discover product features, nutritional information and whether the product is legitimate.

PreScouter said the advantage of this technology for companies and brands, was that the codes establish trust with shoppers and prevent counterfeit products in the supply chain hotspots, since each MaXQ code is unique and comes as a proof of purchase when it is scanned.

MaXQ digital system means consumers can directly interact with a brand’s consumer care team to gain real-time product feedback, customer satisfaction and other measurable marketing insights. The system also delivers loyalty rewards, promotional and targeted messages to the consumers’ smartphones as soon as they scan the code.


EVRYTHNG is an Internet of Things (IoT) company connecting consumer products to the Web and managing real-time data to drive applications and analytics throughout the product lifecycle.

EVRYTHNG transforms packaging into intelligent digital identities​ creating consumer engagement opportunities. Brands can track their products at all stages of the logistics and distribution channel, gain personalized marketing insights and post-purchase service experience for consumers. Customers include Mondelēz, Coca-Cola, Unilever, LVMH and Diageo.

It has three products in Smart packaging that operate under the IoT platform: Halo, an anti-counterfeit and brand protection platform and analytics for luxury brands and their protection.

Amplify, which digitizes products, making them Smart, for direct consumer engagement and Activate, a large-scale product management suite that can create product information and identities for supply chain and B2C applications.

ScanTrust IoT ​

By combining QR and 2D barcodes and an IoT platform, ScanTrust’s codes contain an identity verification that cannot be replicated. Authentication is made with a smartphone. The QR codes are directly printed on existing products, packaging, labels, cartons or documents.

Its IoT-based program gives supply chain transparency by enabling full control of the logistics and distribution chain and its ScanTrust suite can identify counterfeit spots in the distribution channel. This protects brands supply chain, monitors distributors and prevents inventory duplication.

Smartglyph ​

Smartglyph works across pharmaceuticals, FMCG, retail logistics, financial services, film/media and gaming. It provides smarter barcodes, Smart login and smarter adherence.

“The Smarter Barcodes are changing the ways of how products and customers will be communicating in the future. It is allowing more interaction between a products’ brand and customers. This patented technology, applicable to all barcodes and for all packaging, requires the use of a mobile phone with a camera to facilitate scanning of the barcodes on the products’ packaging​,” says PreScouter.

MagicAdd ​

MagicAdd makes the internet of packaging possible by using intelligent back-end technology to manage FMCG products along the entire supply chain.

Information about a particular product is updated in the Cloud during its lifecycle; meaning it is possible to track the product at any time among the supply chain. The platform uses blockchain to update and store code information securely on to the Cloud. Companies get notified when and if packages within a shipment get misplaced/lost during the shipping journey.

Each product has a machine-readable identity due to its adaptation to multiple coding systems: QR, RFID, NFC, and data matrix. Different information can be presented to different users by the same product identifier.

Blippar ​

Blippar is a technology company that specializes in augmented reality (AR) and the mobile apps that it develops. It allows shoppers to check the quality and origins of their food by scanning an item with the Blippar app.

The Blippar app is a basic enabling technology that uses image recognition to activate the specific interactive and digital experience on any mobile phone or tablet device. Blippar has already created various “blipps” for consumer packaged goods companies, such as General Mills, Pepsi and Heinz Ketchup. Customers can track down important information such as: quality certificates; nutritional information; location details and images of farms.

PragmatIC​ ​

PragmatIC develops low cost flexible electronics for Smart packaging applications. Its flexible ICs (“FlexICs”) can be embedded in everyday products, enabling the potential for trillions of Smart objects that engage with consumers and their environments.

Shareholders in the company include; Cambridge Innovation Capital; Arm Holdings and Avery Dennison.

In comparison to silicon-based circuits FlexICs are more cost effective and support radio-frequency identification (RFID) and near field communication (NFC).


Thinfilm, is a Norwegian provider of near field communication (NFC) for mobiles featuring label and packaging integration services and CNECT Cloud-based software platform.

The technology allows customers to tap a particular product with their smartphone and receive personalized content​ of the product, including brand story, product news, ingredient information, video tutorials and interactive content. ​

Its OpenSense Technology is a dual-ID tag integrated with a sensor that detects the sealed or opened status of a product for personalized content and it allows product authentication, refill fraud protection and pre- and post-sale engagement via a smartphone or tablet. ​

Its NFC SpeedTap Tags is a single-ID NFC tag that can be integrated into product labels and bottle caps. Tapping the tag with a smartphone enables instant consumer engagement as well as brand protection.


The Water.IO platform allows any package to become Smart by connecting it to an Internet of Packaging (IoP) platform that can be accessed through their brand analytics dashboard via an app. Their unique patented technology enables special sensors embedded into any package to retrieve information regarding the product without interfering with original packaging.


Timestrip is a technology business that designs and manufactures time and temperature indicators for packaging, supply chain and consumer behaviour. Timestrip designs patented low-cost Smart indicators that monitor elapsed time and/or temperature changes.

The indicators monitor processes in food service, pharmaceutical and consumer products supply chain and logistics to reduce wastage, monitor component lifetimes, deliver quality assurances, improve sales and build brand share.

The time and temperature indicators are patented, single-use strips that can be attached directly on a product or device. Each indicator measures a product’s shelf life by acting as a visual reminder to replace an expired product.

Indicators can range from 30 minutes up to 12 months and can be customized. The technology is protected by two patents: Time indicator and method of manufacturing same and Elapsed time indicator device.

Insignia Technologies

The technology involved uses patented intelligent pigments and inks​ that change color in response to changes in temperature or CO2​ levels.

A color change is observed when exposed to gases or UV light. It offers food fresh indicators and CO2​ indicator pigments that remind users about how long items have been in their fridge and warn when food is past its best via a color change.

Copyright. Unless otherwise stated all contents of this web site are © 2023. William Reed Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Full details for the use of materials on this site can be found in the Terms Conditions

Related news

Related suppliers