This Smart Packaging Communicates With You
In order to reduce waste and increase food quality control and traceability, Fibrenamics - the University of Minho and José Neves, a market leader in the supply of packaging solutions for various industries and sectors, have joined forces and created a smart cardboard package, capable of communicating with the user, informing him whether the food is in good condition for consumption while allowing both the consumer and the producer to monitor the quality of the product and track it from its packaging until it is sold to the public.
In the view of Pedro Neves, Production and Logistics Director at José Neves:
"The fact that we can bring 'intelligence' to a simple cardboard box is something so important that makes us believe that the future can be quite different from the present."
Figure 1 - Developed RFID, pH and temperature detection technology.
To achieve the result of this union named TechPack, with regard to the detection of food deterioration and the presence of microorganisms, taking into account that these beings inflict a pH variation in food and/or surrounding environment, the Fibrenamics team developed an ink with pH indicators, which changes color depending on the pH to which the packaging is exposed, and therefore allowing the detection of functional groups resulting from food degradation. As for temperature detection, this technology was developed using thermochromic inks that are distinguished by their ability to change color depending on the temperature to which they are exposed, having studied different types of indicators depending on the temperature range, as well as reversible and irreversible types of color transition. Finally, as far as traceability is concerned, an RFID system was developed, a wireless radio frequency technology that does not require visual contact between the tag and the reader, thus allowing the quick reading of a large number of tags per unit of time.
Figure 2 - Team responsible for developing the TechPack project and Pedro Neves on the right, Production and Logistics Director at José Neves.
Luís Nobre, Project Manager at Fibrenamics, argues that:
"These types of intelligent packaging are undoubtedly the future of packaging. On the one hand, because it allows the producer to ensure that all the protocols of transport and accommodation of the goods were met and, secondly, the final consumer will also be able to make better choices, ie, will only buy products that they know that are in good condition."