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Smart Packaging for Smart Brands
By: Tom Egan
Posted: August 6, 2013
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For example, OxySense, Inc., a producer of noninvasive oxygen measurement systems and permeation testing, is introducing its new low-cost printable sensor, which will allow producers of modified atmosphere bulk packages and packers of high-value products to include a real-time oxygen sensor in every package.
OxySense says the new verification system, VerOx, will allow 100% verification of good packaging and seals at the point of manufacture and the point of use, eliminating most issues related to package and seal failures. The technology will give the beauty, food and pharmaceutical industries a way to confirm package integrity at the point of receipt.
“This is a marketplace where there is a lot of concern about oxygen, not only on the food side, but more in the high-value item area and the medical and pharmaceutical areas,” says Peter Gerard, the former president and CEO of OxySense, who’s now a consultant to the company. VerOx, which will be sold under the company’s OxyDot brand, is based on similar fluorescence decay and oxygen measurement technology. Gerard adds that a sensor, a fluorescent dot the size of a pencil eraser, absorbs oxygen and emits light that is measured to calculate the level of oxygen.
“The sensor will measure the oxygen of the adjacent area no matter what form it is. So if you had the sensor in the air then it will measure the air. If you put it in wine, it will measure the dissolved oxygen in the wine,” he explains.
Sealed Air, known for its Cryovac food packaging solutions, has extended its product range with Freshness Plus Pouches, which incorporate oxygen-scavenging solutions in a rollstock format for vertical pouch packaging (VPP). Freshness Plus for VPP is an active-barrier oxygen scavenging film that removes oxygen that migrates from the inside or outside of the packaging to ensure no flex cracks so oxygen cannot degrade the product.
While designed for food products, this type of packaging can also have applications in beauty. The active packaging technology is engineered to extend shelf life and maximize product color while reducing odors.
Track and Trace
Radio frequency identification (RFID) tags and chips are also considered smart labels because they are used to track and trace packages and bulk products throughout the distribution chain. This can play an important role in product recalls, quality control and the authentication of sensitive or high value products.
Zebra Technologies offers a variety of passive and active RFID solutions, as well as mobile printers and coders based on the needs of its customer. According to the company, RFID needs are trending toward an increase in item level tagging rather than box or carton tagging, allowing retailers a deeper understanding of data such as inventory levels.
“Retailers are after item level serialization, assigning unique serial numbers to every item for more detailed tracking information,” says Marty Johnson, product marketing manager, Zebra Technologies. “RFID can also create an ‘e-pedigree’. That e-pedigree concept could be used to help ensure the safety of [products].” For example, the ingredients in beauty products items could be tracked and traced all the way to the field they originated from and when that crop was picked.
Another company that offers RFID technology solutions is WS Packaging Group, Inc. Its specialty product, RFID & inTag, features an ‘intelligent tag’ that can be used for unique applications and can be applied to pallets, cases or individual products to help companies combat challenges such as counterfeiting.