The “Internet of Things” (or just IoT) is a term rising in popularity. It applies to most industries and products that utilize various levels of technology. What exactly is IoT, and how does it relate to packaging solutions?
What is IoT?
IoT refers to the interconnectivity of just about everything in today’s modern society. It’s the vehicle that carries data through networks without the need of human interaction. Thanks to computerization and digital networks, even inanimate objects such as smartphones, refrigerators, and packaging machinery can “talk” to each other, streamlining processes and enhancing productivity.
IoT is already changing the packaging industry for the better by providing real-time interfacing, monitoring and adjusting; all of which maximizes results. To avoid risking falling behind the competition, it’s critical to familiarize yourself with the Internet of Things.
Seamless Integration and Real-Time Data
What if your facility could run itself with minimal staff oversight? With the right technology, this is possible. Seamless integration between all of the equipment will provide real-time data exchange and a streamlined workflow.
There are two primary applications of IoT solutions for manufacturers:
- Manufacturing—Designed to help machinery exchange vital information and maximize operational efficiency.
- Consumer Engagement—Technology-driven packaging systems can improve customer engagement with products.
Are You Getting the Most Out of Your Technology?
Most manufacturers have already adopted some technology and may be be taking advantage of IoT—at least on a base level—whether they realize it or not. Even so, they may not be harnessing their full potential with it yet. Modern packaging equipment and automated machinery eliminates human error and ideally streamlines production, however, there are more levels of IoT when it comes to packaging solutions.
One example is machinery capable of self-monitoring. This capability can adjust recommended maintenance schedules based on machine component performance. In addition, this technology is capable of alerting manufacturing staff to unusual conditions allowing them to be addressed proactively rather than in a reactive manner usually associate with machine failure and down time.
Enhanced connectivity and automation provide digital accuracy that can ease the burden of your staff by improving oversight and increasing efficiency. Since safety is another common concern with people running threatening equipment and fast-paced work environments, why not allow machines to do the dangerous work? Automation is not replacing humans with robots, however. Automation and human resources work hand-in-hand to streamline every aspect of the manufacturing, packaging, and shipping processes.
Here are some examples of “smart packaging” and IoT solutions in the manufacturing industry:
• Product Authenticity—Microchips (RFID) can be embedded in products and scanners can be utilized to verify authenticity and real-time inventory.
• Tampering Sensors—Smart packaging can utilize sensors that will let you know if a product has been opened or tampered with in some way.
• Temperature Sensors—Many products are temperature-sensitive. Sensors can be utilized to monitor temperatures throughout very phase of packaging, shipping and distribution.
• Digital Labels—Special digital labels, UPC codes and QR codes can be used to give customers access to everything they need to know about a product.
• Reorder Triggers—When stock runs low, reorder triggers can enable customers and retailers to automatically order more.
• Interactive Coupons—Digital coupons and discounts can be applied in real-time to help boost sales and monitor retail response.
• Packaging Automation Equipment—From a packaging perspective, just about every aspect of the packaging process can be automated with specialized machinery that will increase efficiency, improve safety, and provide more accurate and consistent results.
The Future of Packaging is Now
IoT will continue to evolve and impact the packaging industry. It’s up to you if you want to make the most of it and implement technological advancements for your business. For help with all your packaging system needs and to learn more about the latest packaging automation technology, contact First Packaging Systems today.