How Can IoT Help the Packaging Industry?
Over the past decade, there has been quite a talk on how IoT (Internet of Things) can enable industries to derive more value and more revenue opportunities. In particular, when it comes to the packaging and manufacturing industries, IoT can transform the way manufacturers track and measure every element of their operations.
IoT empowers these industries by interconnecting people, processes, and machines, thereby enhancing the equipment’s operational efficiency A connected packaging system therefore not only automates the assembly line but also provides insights you can use to modify your packaging process for better performance, among the many other varied advantages.
What Are Some of the Challenges Faced by the Packaging Industry?
Like other industries, the packaging industry uses a lot of mechanical equipment such as process weighing systems and packing scales which are susceptible to damage. While any malfunction leads to downtime, inaccuracies in the weighing scales lead to under-weighing or over-weighing of the material, both resulting in huge losses for the company. The former would be a financial loss and the latter would be a loss in production time or application of regulatory fines. Therefore, weighing scales and other packaging equipment must be constantly maintained for optimum function.
How Can IoT Help Solve These Challenges?
- Predictive Maintenance: Failure of equipment adversely affects the outcome of goods, delivery, and inventory. It also leads to downtime. IoT-enabled sensors and devices can help companies predict the maintenance needs of the assembly line and factory floor, and in this way, help prevent any malfunctions. The sensors will collect the performance data and send it over cloud networks to a data analytics platform. The platform then interprets the data and displays it on devices like computers or mobile phones so that a user can remotely access and monitor the equipment.
- Real-time alerts help in error detection: The integration of IoT sensors on the packaging factory floor and throughout inventory gives a user real-time actionable insights with the help of data analytics. The collected data helps one take corrective action in case of any sudden issue arising in real-time on the floor and ensures a problem-free production. The user can also analyze the insights and make important decisions regarding business enhancement, workforce efficiency, and workplace management. An integrated IoT asset management platform that supports different devices, networks, protocols, and cloud environments is the key to all this.
- Legacy Systems Automation: In the past, it was quite difficult to connect IoT to packaging equipment as manually operated machinery and older automation systems were in use. These systems were not designed to integrate with modern IoT technologies and required costly upgrades and custom development. Today, the drop in costs and availability of a wide range of flexible IoT technologies has changed all of that. Many companies specialize in the field of IoT, thus making it more affordable to integrate it into legacy equipment. IoT sensors today are cheap, efficient, and robust, providing the packaging industry with a whole new set of solutions.
Benefits of Packaging Using IoT
- Fast remote machine access
- Customizable machine platforms and applications
- Active equipment monitoring and maintenance
- New business models
- Higher production rates and fewer downtimes
- Endless integration possibilities
Thus, connected packaging machines are multifunctional, offer a key product benefit, and help companies cater more efficiently to customers.
Smart Packaging and Consumer Engagement
Taking IoT one step further is the development of smart or intelligent packaging materials which have sensors embedded directly within them. The packaging itself shares information, allowing consumers to engage with it and access data that help them fully utilize the product. Whether embedding sensors through QR codes, augmented or virtual reality options, there are many ways for IoT and packaging materials to work together. Some of them include:
- Tampering sensors that sense if a product has been tampered with.
- Temperature sensors that maintain perishable and sensitive products at the correct temperatures.
- Authentication devices such as microchips that are embedded in products so that scanners can verify their authenticity.
- Tracking logs that ensure a product’s digital footprint at every step from production to retail, allowing companies to easily identify issues or errors along the supply chain.
- Digital labels that allow consumers to instantly access all the data of the product (videos, images, and other relevant info) on their phones through QR codes or other triggers.
- Reorder triggers that are embedded in the product and alerts consumers and retailers to automatically reorder products when stocks run low.
Smart packaging can be a huge key to success for companies as it not only adds value for consumers but also maximizes data collection to optimize operations and boost efficiency and sales.
In conclusion, the use of IoT in packaging is recent but already transforming the industry. With IoT devices, one can cut packaging costs, improve logistics management, optimize inventory, enhance customer experience, reduce waste and improve the quality of the finished product – basically have a solution in hand for everything involved in packaging.
If your company hasn’t delved into the possibilities of industrial IoT and packaging, there is no better time than now! Thingstel’s next-generation sensors, visualization platforms, and customizable analytics modules come with increased intelligence, reliability, and improved accuracy specifications. Our technologies can empower and strengthen your business, providing you with a wide array of solutions ranging from predictive maintenance to remote monitoring to real-time analytics and data visualization. Reach out to us in case you have any questions or simply want to know more!