Packaging Digitalization: welcome to the market time

Companies must be aware of their issues, keep eyes open to what is new and be prepared for the digital journey, because technology is no longer an option; it is mandatory

Liliam Benzi

A recently released survey by Brazilian National Confederation of Industry (CNI) with over 1,000 companies revealed that Brazilian manufacture industry is more digital than five years ago. If in 2016, less than half (48%) of the companies surveyed used digital technologies, in 2021 this percentage rose to 69%.

However, the bottleneck still lies in the little variety of technologies employed, which indicates that the digitalization process is still in its early stages. So much so that the survey revealed that 26% of respondents use one to three of the 18 technologies listed, and only 7% have adopted 10 or more of them. For 37% of the companies, the lack of qualified professionals is an external barrier to the adoption of digital technologies.

Liliam Benzi

And the question arises: how to make the transition from a reactive to a proactive environment, especially as in the case of packaging industries, a B2B business? Although much is said about the Industry 4.0 journey, few seem to be clear on where to start.

One thing is certain, the digitalization of processes is inevitable, just as the digitalization of packaging itself is inevitable. The consumer is digital and will not go back. Therefore, it will be up to the industry to adapt to this demand.

Recently, Videojet, multinational in the marking and coding industry, offered an important food client in Chile an exclusive morning of content that addressed just that: the connectivity of packaging in order to make it active and intelligent.

According to the specialist in augmented reality and interactive packaging, Henry Assef, not only industries, but also brands need technology to draw people’s attention at the PDVs and transmit information. And this retention of information is 70% greater with the use of technologies that ‘talk’ to the consumer.

On the other hand, these technologies allow brand owners to monitor consumer habits, correcting possible problems, delivering solutions in less time and, mainly, predicting new consumption habits. It is technology transforming packaging into an active experience for and with the consumer.

But back to the manufacturing universe, how do we begin the digital journey? Perhaps the first step is by detecting problems. According to experts, using AI (artificial intelligence) for this purpose is relatively simple. The system captures data, either via sensors or images, and can visualize the performance of the assets.

Once trust is established with the system, it becomes easier to use machine learning and AI technology to keep the assets running smoothly on the shop floor and to think of new digital applications. In other words, the process is one of continuous evolution.

And as AI evolves and companies intelligently manage their assets, they seek so-called ‘Zero D’: zero defects and zero downtime. The concept does not decouple defects and downtime and does not recommend a separate approach. This is because both points are critical, and the industry only achieves true transformation when it ‘tackles’ them together.

It doesn’t matter how high production is if there is downtime; the company will not meet the demands. And the reverse is also true: an industry that is very efficient in its manufacturing processes, but has a poor-quality inspection system, will increase rework.

What is important in this process is that companies must be aware of their issues and keep eyes open – and be culturally prepared – for the digital journey. Not incorporating digital technology into your processes and packaging is no longer an option.

Everything needs to be monitored, especially at a time when the packaging industry is no longer driven by macro-trends, but by micro-trends. These are increasingly distributed and diverse movements that depend on technology to be transformed into connected processes, products and packaging that make sense for the market, for society and for the environment.

Welcome to the era of ‘market time’!

Liliam Benzi is WPO Press & Communication Officer and runs its own Communication & Strategy company for the packaging industry, LDB Comunicação Empresarial