How the Internet of Things is revolutionizing the packaging industry


The Internet of Things is taking hold, helping packaging suppliers move from a simple reactivity to a predictive approach. Subsequently, as Ryan Ellington discoveries, opportunities abound for companies to gain a substantial advantage over their industry peers

Recent research from Packaging Gateway’s parent company, GlobalData, showed how companies are beginning to use the Internet of Things (IoT) to improve the efficiency of their operations. In packaging, the leaders, according to GlobalData’s ‘Internet of Things in Packaging – Thematic Search‘, include Tetra Pak, Amcor and Berry Global, all of which are implementing IoT to help achieve their ESG goals.

IoT – The way forward

As in all other industries, the breadth of data available to packaging companies can provide significant opportunities for locating efficiency opportunities. Integrated smart systems, processes, sensors, data and analytics help packaging manufacturers make smart decisions, automate processes and achieve efficiency and cost reduction goals – all of which fall under of IoT competence.

Industry observers believe that IoT initiatives can often be the starting point for digitization. Peripheral technologies, such as 5G and artificial intelligence (AI), provide support and enhancements: IoT collects data, 5G transmits it, and AI extracts information.

“Companies across industries are increasingly looking to digitize their supply chains and make faster, more informed decisions based on the data they collect,” said Luke Gowland, analyst at GlobalData. “The full integration of interconnected technologies such as IoT, AI, cloud and edge computing across the entire packaging value chain represents a significant opportunity.”

Gowland notes, “IoT-as-a-Service (IoTaaS) vendors provide various platforms to help organizations deploy IoT without in-house expertise. IoTaaS aims to make it easier for businesses to deploy and manage connected devices, and has become an accelerator for IoT adoption, especially in predictive maintenance, advanced automation and condition monitoring. .

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“As the world recovers from COVID and economic growth returns, IoTaaS revenues will increase dramatically. Accenture, IBM and Microsoft are among the vendors likely to see the greatest demand for their services.

Indeed, the increased use of IoT has driven its growth in all industries, not just packaging. GlobalData estimates that in the manufacturing sector, global IoT revenue will reach US$91 billion by 2025, up from US$69 billion in 2020. This represents a CAGR compound annual growth rate of 5.7%.

IoT and environment – ​​A perfect alliance

Environmental sustainability is one of the most critical challenges for packaging companies. As a tool to address this challenge, IoT could be the silver bullet. According to the World Economic Forum, for example, combining IoT with 5G and AI could help reduce carbon emissions by 15%.

The use of IoT becomes an integral aid in achieving ESG objectives. By implementing the IoT in their operations, companies are able to move closer to – or meet – their goals in areas such as reducing energy in manufacturing by streamlining operations and running businesses more effective.

US packaging giant Ball Corp, for example, has teamed up with artificial intelligence software provider C3 AI to collect data from 60 of its facilities around the world. The software is used to track, aggregate, manage and report energy consumption at sites. This contributes to Ball’s global sustainability goals of moving to 100% renewable electricity by 2030 and achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Another example is Tetra Pak‘s commitment to invest approximately €100 million ($113.8 million) per year over the next five to ten years to develop more sustainable packaging solutions. As part of this transformation, Tetra Pak has invested in Microsoft Azure IoT solutions such as Azure IoT Hub to create “smart factories” that drive sustainability across its organization. The group uses Azure IoT Edge devices to improve the operational efficiency of customer facilities around the world, targeting predictive maintenance and monitoring overall equipment efficiency.

“Tetra Pak is going through a major transformation in sustainable manufacturing,” says Peter Stolt, Tetra Pak’s Director of Digitalization and Automation. “Thanks to our investment in Azure IoT Hub, Tetra Pak now has the technology to optimize our processes and innovate for a more sustainable future.

“Being able to connect anything we want to Azure’s infrastructure opens up new possibilities for us to better control our processes and ultimately improve quality and reliability for our customers.”

Luxembourg glass producer Ardagh has implemented “Water Flow Intelligence” in two of its US facilities. Based on Ecolab’s “Ecolab3D” platform, the IoT-enabled devices collect and transmit real-time water usage data at the corporate, plant and asset level, which can be stored in the cloud and viewed using a dashboard.

Using the IoT to fight the good fight for environmental sustainability isn’t just about factories. Paper and pulp manufacturer Stora Enso has started applying IoT in its forests through the digitalization of operations.

The Finnish company seeks to use technology to make gains on its ambition to offer 100% regenerative products and solutions by 2050. Initiatives include the use of drones for forest inventory, virtual tours of forests and better decision-making through the use of AI. and satellite imagery.

The current packaging leaders

GlobalData theme dashboard ranking companies based on their global leadership in the 10 most important themes for the packaging industry, generating a leading indicator of future performance

GlobalData’s research also includes the company’s proprietary Theme Scorecard, which rates packaging companies against their competitors on a variety of themes. Companies at the forefront of IoT activity include Berry Global, Tetra Laval International, the parent company of Tetra Pak, and Amcor.

Berry, which specializes in the manufacture of plastic packaging, aims to reduce annual energy consumption by 3% across all of its sites. To achieve this, the group has teamed up with “industrial internet” specialist Newsteo. At its Bailleul factory in France, Berry has installed an IoT system to remotely read electricity, gas and water meters, allowing the company to monitor its energy consumption in real time. The system detects and corrects abnormal water consumption, allowing a daily saving of approximately 10m³ of water.

Earlier this year, UK packaging specialist Amcor invested in PragmatIC Semiconductor. The $5 million spent will help the electronics company continue to develop the technology used to deliver smart applications throughout the packaging lifecycle, such as PragmatIC’s “ConnectIC” line of integrated chips for radio frequency identification and near field communications (RFID/NFC). This type of technology is capable of storing and transmitting data in order to, among other things, monitor freshness.

Meanwhile, Finland-based Stora Enso – which is yet to appear in GlobalData’s “Top Ten” – is using IoT to collect data on its production lines to streamline operations. At the end of 2018, the paper packaging specialist installed sensors on the manual valves of its factories. The sensors send data to each plant’s plant control system to give production personnel an overview of the plant’s piping system.

The IoT is making its presence felt in all industries, including packaging. Companies that don’t prioritize – and invest in – IoT will struggle to survive for years to come.

For more details on GlobalData’s “Internet of Things in Packaging – Topical Research” report, click here

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