No AIPIA Congress is complete without a Brand Challenge, and the 2022 event was no exception. This year the GSK spin-off Haleon, which is responsible for famous brands such as Sensodyne toothpaste, Otrivin respiratory treatment, Advil pain relievers and Centrum supplements, challenged twelve AIPIA companies to show how it can integrate active and intelligent packaging to enhance the consumer experience, provide traceability, enhance safety and/or security, as well as extending shelf-life or reducing waste.
After an action-packed hour, where each company was given precisely four minutes to pitch its ideas the three selected for further investigation were Securikett, with its suite of tamper evident brand protection and security labels and associated cloud platform Codikett; Alma Science’s paper electronics for connected packaging which proposed to use its paper action buttons technology in order to turn the packaging of Centrum Junior Vitamins into a game controller; and Ennoventure’s invisible encryption technology, used for brand protection, tracking & tracing and to enhance brand engagement. But lead judge Anu Gadhiraju from Haleon said other ideas were also worthy of further consideration.
In the hall, Ondrej Panák, R&D associate at MyCol, introduced a range of irreversible thermochromic labels that allow simple visual indication if the temperature gets over a certain threshold. This threshold can be adjusted according to the product, so from freezing to high temperatures. Labels change colour from white and, thanks to its unique technology MyCol says it offers customizable designs, a variety of colour options and different label materials.
A stalwart of the Congress, Securikett, introduced the IT’s paper-based security labels and tapes series. These can be recycled together with the paper or cardboard packaging to optimize the paper recycling process, says the company. These paper-based security labels can be customized in colour, size, shape and design and Securikett says it can create both opaque as well as translucent versions. Combined with a unique QR code, products can easily be digitalized.
Meanwhile, Systech showed its latest digital supply chain technologies which are helping several Fortune 500 companies to give their products individual identities. These connected products enable a connected, more agile supply chain. Tessa Eastman, connected products strategist for the company, offered specific use cases which have helped companies to create transparency across their supply chains, reducing risk, offering consumer protection and meeting regulatory demands.
Supply chains were a key feature of many other presentations. Thaddeus Segura, VP of data products & algorithms for Wiliot, claimed that smart packaging plus Ambient IoT is a ‘giant fix’ for supply chains. Fully-scaled, massive IoT will mean that everything can be internet-connected, making smart packaging truly smart. He claims that the fundamental breakthrough – Wiliot’s stamp-sized IoT Pixels, actual programmable computers – will transform global supply chains, creating never-before-possible efficiencies that will reach deeply into industries, ranging from food to pharma to apparel.
Gary Parish, managing director of USA-based HD Barcode LLC explained that the advances in digital printing and smartphone camera technology means a seemingly simple 2D code can be provided as an HD MultiCode with up to four individual codes together, to provide both manufacturers and consumers, public and secure, private information.
This enables the codes to provide brand protection to prevent anti-counterfeiting with or without the internet; track & trace information which prevents diversion, as well as identifying other unique anti-counterfeit features, and allows consumers to read a public QR Code from their smartphone for authentication; while an optional fourth code can provide directions for use or ingredients that can be read in any language.
In a rousing ‘Call to Action’ Robson Lisboa, CEO of Midiacode challenged brand owners to implement smart packaging at scale across all their products, not just for pilot projects or targeted campaigns. He feels the time is right to offer smart packaging as a standard.
But asked his audience how that can be achieved at an affordable price and how to do it without letting marketing and packaging teams go crazy with endless work! He believes simple connectivity via QR codes – which he says are set to boom – are the answer and offered a highly upbeat vision of the future and use cases across a range of applications. Watch this space!
There was much talk about with digital product passports (DPP). In a presentation on this ‘hot’ topic, Monica Gross, ecosystem engagement manager Food & Beverage for Avery Dennison and her colleague Noam Assael, director business ventures, at AD, outlined the reasoning behind the creation of these.
DPP is designed to make it easier to repair or recycle products and track substances of concern along the supply chain. According to the European Commission proposal, all regulated products sold in Europe will need to have a DPP within the next couple of years.
They explained just what is meant by a connected digital item-level product; how digitization of the supply chain can provide the transparency, circularity and provenance needed to comply with DPP, as well as how organizations can prepare for this new regulation and which tools and methods need to be implemented.
There are several benefits DPP could bring to consumers beyond the information currently found on websites, they say, but challenges remain to make DPPs happen, and they strongly advised collaboration across the supply chain.
A further panel discussion on DPPs, featuring Per Christian Myklebost, Johan Borg and John Beerens all from Kezzler, as well as contributors from Accenture and GS1 went further, explaining that these passports are designed to support sustainability and circular goals.
Soon they will be required to sell products in specific categories (starting with apparel and textiles) within the European Union. They highlighted the critical elements to consider when choosing a traceability platform, the importance of interoperability and technology standards and the benefits of end-to-end traceability beyond regulatory compliance in creating sustainable value chains.
In one of the final presentations of the day Justina Karpavice a PhD Fellow at Aarhus University laid down a challenge to the sector. Having undertaken research on NFC-enabled product packaging she said that, despite all the significant capabilities of NFC, the technology is still not as widely accepted by consumers, retailers or manufacturers as it should be.
Various challenges related to technological feasibility, customer acceptance and economic benefit for businesses hinder NFC technology from being more widely applied in packaging. The main aim of her research, which is ongoing, is to carry out experiments to examine the peculiarities of the user interaction of NFC-enabled packaging which could lead to more comprehensive insights regarding its potential implementation. She urged the industry to work together with academia to overcome these obstacles.
Closing the Congress for 2022 AIPIA’s managing director Eef de Ferrante summed up his view of the event: “It is clear that our members and stakeholders welcomed the return of a live event and the ability to have in-depth discussions with real people. There is still a lot of work to do to build back both the Congress and the momentum of the Smart packaging sector. While we never lost the innovative energy, the pandemic did put the brakes on both New Product Development and implementation. As l always maintain, we are building this industry together. It’s been a great start, there is still much to do. See you all in 2023!”
This article was created in collaboration with AIPIA (the Active and Intelligent Packaging Industry Association). Packaging Europe and AIPIA are joining forces to bring news and commentary about the active and intelligent packaging landscape to a larger audience. To learn more about this partnership, click here.