Mondi is showcasing a Smart ID bag at the Fachpack packaging machinery and materials show in Nuremberg, enabling manufacturers and retailers to track each specific bag of product through the supply chain.
The bags carry unique smart phone codes that can be used to keep tabs on them throughout the distribution process, said Christina Fadler, marketing communications manager, speaking at the show.
The system provided an alternative to radio frequency identification technology (RFID), which was currently used to track pallets of items (say, 5,000 bags), but was expensive to use for individual units, she said.
However, such smart phone based technology would not necessarily supersede RFID systems, as the two different approaches suited different customers, said Albert Klinkhammer, marketing and communications director at Mondi.
Unique data matrix code
Fadler said: “Each bag has a unique data matrix code and can be tracked from Mondi to the end consumer.”
The technology could also be used to confirm the veracity of products in markets where trade in counterfeit products was a problem, she said.
At the moment, the biggest potential geographical market for the technology was Western Europe, where there was already a high density of smart phones, said Fadler.
Mondi wants to work with a range of customers, including food clients, to make the bags compatible with individual track and trace systems, rather than limiting its use to certain systems.
“We don’t want to launch this as an exclusive service,” Fadler said.
Not yet in commercial use
The Smart ID bags were not in commercial use yet, but Mondi was in discussions with interested customers in various industries, she said.
The bags were just one innovation being displayed by Mondi at Fachpack. Others included premium consumer packaging with embossed and 3-D lettering, which enabled manufacturers’ products to stand out from their competitors.
The packaging consists of plastic, paper-based bags. Martina Lercher, segment marketing coordinator for consumer packaging coatings and consumer packaging, said: “The packaging has a matt surface and provides a more natural paper look and feel.”
Mondi demonstrated one example, which was being trialled by a petfood manufacturer in Germany at the moment. However, the company said it could equally be used by food manufacturers.
The packaging used “high definition, flexible print”, said Lercher. “This trend started two years ago with brilliant colours and better print quality."
Mondi was one of the first in Europe to introduce the technology that could deliver such packaging designs to Europe, she added.
In addition, it was the only company to provide such packaging for reels, she said.
Biodegradable industrial bags
The company also showcased a range of biodegradable industrial bags particularly suitable for containing powdered substances. These included the Terrabag; the One Bag, made of lightweight, high strength, flexible materials, and the EasySeal.
The Terrabag is “two parts paper, one part biodegradable film, made from corn and disintegrates in 12 weeks [once disposed of],” said Lercher.
The EasySeal bag carried a special biodegradable sealant that would still seal even if it had powder particles affixed to it, so was suitable for use with powdered substances such as flour. It was also accredited for use with food grade materials, said Lercher.
Mondi displayed a range of other packaging innovations which it launched over the past three years at Fachpack. These included its Zip & Valve microwave packaging with built-in venting; its Neo Steam microwaveable packaging and its Anti-Staining pouch, made with materials that resisted staining for products such as tomato-based sauces.