Food and drinks companies may soon be able to more closely track their products in real time, thanks to the development of an innovative ‘Internet of Packaging.’

Being developed by British technology company, Hanhaa, with the aid of overseas investment from Swedish firm, BillerudKorsnäs, the Internet of Packaging will allow manufacturers to follow the progress of their goods using an interconnected network of ‘smart’ devices, parcels and vehicles, all of which can ‘talk’ to each other to monitor progress and status.

The system works by using electronic sensors embedded in the industrial packaging, in conjunction with mobile signals and global positioning systems (GPS), to keep track of the goods being transported. Called Parcelive, Hanhaa’s system can be used to monitor not only the precise position of the package, but also its condition – for example, what its temperature is, or whether it has been dropped or knocked during transit.

According to those developing the technology, this system is ideally suited to the food and drinks sector, where it is more vital to monitor the location and condition of products during transportation. It will offer a cost-effective and efficient way of monitoring the progress and condition of a wide range of goods, from meat products to cold drinks.

Once in place, the system will work regardless of which country the goods are in or who they are being transported by. It will also not be affected by scale, as the sensors will be in each package, so every single one will be monitored digitally.

Environmentally-aware packaging company, BillerudKorsnäs, is well known for producing packaging using sustainable materials, as well as coming up with innovative solutions to the problems that packaging can present. Its stated aim is to increase its customers’ profit while simultaneously reducing the environmental impact the firm’s packaging has on the planet. It is dedicated to working closely with other companies to help solve the many environmental challenges created by the industrial packaging sector.

The ‘internet of things’ (or IoT, as it is also known) is not a new idea, and high-tech companies have been kicking the idea around for decades. At its basic level, IoT is very simple – it’s about connecting physical devices or appliances digitally, allowing them to ‘talk’ to us, as well as each other, usually through the use of apps.

Already there are several such devices and appliances on the market. The obvious example is the ‘talking’ fridge, which can tell you when you run out of milk, and even order some for you from the supermarket. Its most common application in Britain is home energy and heating apps, which allow you to turn your heating up or down at the touch of a screen. Electricity and gas ‘smart’ meters are another example of how this use of technology is fast becoming more commonplace.

Hanhaa, based in London, is a mobile services company focused on working with and developing the Internet of Things. The firm works on connecting technologies, services and engagements to solve different IoT needs.

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