No AIPIA Congress is complete without one of its Technical Challenges, where a major brand owner, this year it was AB InBev, asked AIPIA members to pitch their ideas on how to overcome some of the supply chain/consumer engagement and smart packaging issues in a dynamic session where each of them only has a few minutes to put across their ideas. Moderated by Eef de Ferrante the rule is “If you can’t explain it in 3 minutes then its probably not going to work!”
This year AB InBev looked for solutions in the following areas:
Datamatrix: how to make improve readability with smartphones when laser-engraved on clear surfaces?
Semi-serialization: How to execute a perfect hidden semi-serialization that can be validated with a picture.
Consumer engagement: via Gamification/AR at reduced cost.
In the normal lively session ten companies pitched their ideas. As usual three companies were shortlisted by the AB InBev panel. These were Alitheon for its breakthrough computer vision system which creates a digital twin of both the pack and product, as well as offering semi-serialisation; AlmaScience, offering smart, sustainable (cellulose) solutions for Datamatrix and semi-serialisation; and finally, Experience is Everything Ltd, specialising in ‘always on’ connected packaging for consumer engagement. Al three will continue the conversation with the brand.
With such a wide range of technologies presented and on display it is sometimes hard to pick out one or two particular technologies as standing out. But certainly, the role smart packaging can play in the sustainability arena was a theme which was returned to again and again over the two days. Another clear message was the importance brands are now placing on connectivity, for both brand protection and consumer engagement. The implications of AI for smart packaging applications came up regularly but this seems to be an area which is not fully developed, so watch this space at the next Congress! Thanks to the presence of Amazon the topic of transparency along the supply chain was a huge factor and this spilled over into areas such a food safety and security and the AIPIA led consortium exploring the Smart Food Chain.
One thing is certain, while the Smart Packaging sector is still under development, it continues to grow rapidly and is making a stronger and stronger impact across the whole range of end user industries. The need for better data sharing, collaboration and better education about its benefits at all levels – particularly in retailers, brand owners and packaging converters – are paramount. Both the means and momentum are there to create the conditions for success.