Pack Smart: IoT adds new Insights to Product Packaging

Imagine a shipment of crisp, fresh grapes is being transported to a retailer via various distribution points.

Upon arrival at the first stop along this distribution channel, an Internet of Things-enabled (IoT) sensor attached to the box of grapes picks up that the temperature has exceeded safe storage conditions for fresh fruits and vegetables. Luckily, each pallet is equipped with one of these sensors so it’s easy to identify the specific batch that sent off the alert and determine what portion of the goods have been compromised.

Once the degraded products have been removed, the remaining shipment is then sent to different grocery stores. Every time a store receives their order, an IoT sensor is scanned, verifying and logging that the produce has been delivered. And when a consumer picks up their box of grapes, they can tap the product label with their smartphone to access a wealth of information around where the fruit came from and they can verify the produce’s quality. In some instances, they might even be presented with a recipe for a grape salad, as well as a grocery store map indicating where to find the recipe ingredients.

Back at the distribution center, all of the information about the shipment’s movements from one distribution point to the next is processed and logged in real time. These insights are then used to boost shipping processes, flag discrepancies, eliminate any inefficiency and mitigate potential stumbling blocks.

This is what a world enabled by a digital supply chain looks like.

The Power is in the Packaging
With smart packaging – also called connected or intelligent packaging – electronic or optically read sensors are fitted to packaged goods so that brands have more ways to connect with their consumers and manufacturers are better able to track and measure previously unquantified elements of their operations.

The global market for this kind of packaging is set to reach $52bn by 2025, according to a report from Accuray Research LLP [1]. And Gartner forecasts that the number of connected products will increase to 20.4 billion by the end of 2020 [2].

“Smart packaging allows [us] to track and trace a product throughout its lifecycle and to analyze and control the environment inside or outside the package to inform its manufacturer, retailer or consumer on the product’s condition at any given time,” a recent Science Direct smart packaging report explains [3].

For Eric Schultz, VP for Business Development at global strategy production and technology solutions provider, SGK, smart packaging previously relied on QR codes and simple augmented reality (AR) gimmicks to grab the customer’s attention.

"But today we’re seeing the transition from basic connected packaging to intelligent and enhanced packaging [4]." 

For brands this presents opportunities to offer interactive and informative experiences to consumers. For manufacturers and distributors, these sensors make it possible to streamline operations and deliver new levels of supply chain and warehouse management efficiency.

Smart packaging doesn’t necessarily mean that sensors need to be integrated on chip-level. Small design adaptions in the packaging to hold data loggers are sufficient to augment the packaging and make it “smart”. With Swiss Post, for example, our MODsense One monitoring solution is an integral part of their logistics offering to Pharma customers [5]. Our MODsense T data loggers are easily mounted in a data logger inlay within the Swiss Post ThermoBox, combining temperature monitoring with temperature control. A deeper integration of our MODsense T data loggers was achieved with DGP Intelsius, a producer of passive thermal packaging solutions [6]. In this case a specifically designed inlay for MODsense T was created to ensure seamless integration into their ORCA M packaging.


The future of packaging is connected. Are you ready for it? If you’re shipping sensitive goods you need a reliable and hassle-free monitoring solution. Chat to us today to find a solution that meets your unique supply chain needs.