Did you ever think you would see the day where a product’s package is just as important and technologically advanced as the product itself?
Packaging is getting smarter and more intelligent by the day. Although the main function of product packaging and design is still to protect the product inside and ensure its safety during travel, we now see packaging can be even more practical and functional. Intelligent packaging is aiming to make customers lives even better and easier.
In this post, we will explore what intelligent packaging is, why it is beneficial, and the outlook on intelligent packaging and what that future of the industry holds.
Intelligent packaging goes far beyond simply protecting the product inside and allowing the product to ship easily. Intelligent packaging is able to communication a variety of information to customers regarding the product or the package itself. An intelligent package generally uses internal and/or external sensors or indications sense and then share the information recorded about any changes the product inside is experiencing. For instance, changes in temperature, moisture, pressure, battery life, and much more is often the main focus of intelligent packaging.
Intelligent packaging is mainly used for food products. The packaging can monitor a variety of aspects regarding the environment surrounding the food product. From there, that information can be communicated to the customer, so they can know more about their food and make better choices regarding what they are and what they do not eat.
An intelligent food package can measure the safety and the quality of the food inside the package. For example, the sensor on the outside of a chicken breast package can tell the customer if the chicken is still good and safe to eat, if it is getting close to its expiration, or if it has already gone bad.
Intelligent food packaging can also be used to indicate whether a food or beverage package has been tampered with or not. If a seal is broken and air is introduced into the food or beverage package, there may be a color changing area on the outside of the package to tell a customer the item has been tampered with and should not be consumed.
Both uses are of great use to a customer because it will prevent someone from getting ill and may eve prevent death if the food or beverage item has been tampered with.
Although we have seen great advancements in intelligent packaging, there is still much work to be done and it is still not widely used by most companies. The lack of use is due to higher costs in the production of intelligent packaging and lack of use and research done on the packaging itself.
However, despite the lack of use and extensive research, there is still an overwhelmingly positive attitude surrounding intelligent packaging and further advancements in this industry is yet to slow down.
Pathogen sensors are one example of intelligent packaging technology that is currently in the works. Biosensors on the inside and outside of a food package would indicate whether or not a foodborne pathogen has contaminated the food or beverage. This type of information is critical to the customer, so they are not eating contaminated food and they are staying safe.
This intelligent packaging system is being developed to attach antibodies to the food package that can detect pathogens or toxins and then send some type of alert to the customer that the pathogen in present. From there, the customer would know not to consume the food.
Cold chain tracking is another form of intelligent packaging that is already being used with success and continuing to see improvements every day. A sensor is placed on a food package that can track the temperature of the package every step of the way every few minutes, if needed, during the shipment process.
The logger/sensor can hook up to a smartphone or computer through a special app where one can track the shipment during the cold chain process at any stage of shipment. If there are any issues likes shipment mishandles, health, or safety issues.