Making Packaging and Crating Smarter

“Smart Technology” is a general term relating to the ability of a device to capture and transmit data as well as process the data and even take action.  One example would be a moisture gage set in the ground that controls a lawn sprinkler system.   The sprinkler system is smart because it activates based on moisture content in the soil rather than just turning on and off at preset times.

Data gathering systems abound in the warehousing and shipping industry.   All the major shipping lines use RFID or bar codes that can be scanned by hand held or static scanning.  Once scanned, the system immediately knows where the package is.   This system is invaluable for tracking and reducing shipping errors.

In the aforementioned case, the package is “dumb” because all it has is a bar code label or an RFID tag that uniquely identifies it.  The technology that scans and records the data and transmits to a computing system makes the system smart.

Passive RFID tags and bar codes provide the same function.   In both cases a scanner is needed to “read” the tag or code and identify the package.   RFID tags have the significant advantage in that the data is exchanged by radio signals, so the tag does not have to be in “eye view” of the scanner.  An RFID (radio frequency identification) tag could be placed inside a container and as long as the container was not metallic, the tag could still be read by an RFID scanning device.

Packages and shipping systems can be much smarter than just tracking location.   It is now possible to know exactly what happened to the package during its transport.   It is possible to know what temperature it was exposed to, how much impact it underwent and to what level it tilted.   ShockWatch® recorders can record shock, vibration and tilt during transport.    Additionally, changes in temperature, humidity and air pressure can also be monitored.   GPS technology can be used so that critical events such as shock or temperature change not only can be recorded, but the exact location of the unfavorable event can be pinpointed.  This technology allows the sender to proactively deal with potential damage before it gets to the customer.   It also helps in determining liability for shipping damage.

The level of “smartness” that one puts in a package depends on the sensitivity and cost of the product along with how much one is willing to spend on recording/indicating technology.   Packnet has a variety of ShockWatch® impact/environmental indicators and recorders.   We can determine the best product to meet your needs and fit your budget requirements.  You can contact a Packnet technical representative to find out the best solution for your needs.