Background-Article (English) to Conference on Big Data & Interactive Packaging, Sept 29th

This is a translation into English of an extended version of the article that was published here:

How Modern Techniques Will Make Packaging CEO-Business!!

Preview conference of the above mentioned theme on 29.09.2017, Oss, The Netherlands.

The development of technology (among other: Technology 4.0, Internet of Things), as well as increasingly more techniques for interactive packaging (tags, rfid, printed algorithms) leads to a fundamental change in the position of packaging and the packaging process in the supply chain. They become CEO-business as fundamental issues are determined: contact with final consumer, transparency in the market, yet also data-systems that communicate automatically with one another.

These possibilities have influence on the food producers’ market-position, as well as an impact on the position of competitors of the European retail. It is important to inform the industry, to prepare for it and preferably to take a step forward in mutual alignment.
That is the starting point of the conference, organised by Compucraft from Nijmegen, The Netherlands and Across-Consult from Sessa, Switzerland that will take place on the 29th of September in Oss, The Netherlands.

Coincidental Meeting
A coincidental meeting between Niels de Vries (Compucraft) and Peter Stael (Across-Consult) in Dessohouse in Oss (also host of the conference) lead to an intense conversation about packaging, the development of the retail and big data among others. The conversation led to further research and the decision to organise this conference.
De Vries with his experience as a consultant for Google and contacts with Amazon, and Peter Stael with his knowledge of the packaging industry, and their mutual continual quest for packaging improvements and their wish for more intense communication with the customer.

Technology 4.0
The impact of Technology 4.0 on packaging machinery, also in retrofit, leads to increasingly application of sensors. Consequently, the machine becomes a ‘living’ thing, a learning unit, that provides information to the food producer about the state of the machine, and, therefore, also about its packaging quality. The food producer can know which sku’s are being produced and under which circumstances. “What was the temperature of the sealbar on that particular moment?” and similar questions.
This information can be linked to each individual packaging unit. New techniques allow each packaging unit to become a carrier of data. The packaging data can be linked to the machinery’s data; resulting in unification of the information that remain with the product throughout its whole lifespan.

Big data
It does not end there! The same packaging unit can serve as a communication medium between the food producer (or retailer) and the consumer. By means of an app on the customer’s side and the database on the producer’s side, more information and data can be gathered, where the specific packaging unit, produced under those particular circumstances, is linked to the specific customer who scanned/bought the product on that specific place and time. Thus, a closed chain is created where every detail about the product is known.
Accordingly, that has its consequences. What is mentioned above is already revolutionary, yet it is only the beginning. First of all, through this, one can gather big data. The big data is not necessarily the information about an individual customer, but mainly, through the extensive amount of information as a result, through the specific individual behaviour of that particular customer, one can focus their marketing on a larger focus group where the customer is apart of. Deviation leads to knowledge, as due to this one’s behaviour is known, understandable and…predictable. If eventually enough data is gathered, one can be lead to the Holy Grail of marketing: eventually one knows what you want to buy tomorrow and the days after! You might not know it yourself, however, Google, Amazon, Albert Heijn, Unilver, etc., will know! This changes the world of marketing as they can work focus on the individual.

Back to the Chain
Yet, there is no end to the increasingly opportunities available. All that information (product data, packaging data, consumer information) can be linked from the database to the SAP-systems and management-systems. Retailers can insist that the food producers process this information in their management-systems, which leads to a further step in the chain: re-ordering in real time can be an automatic process. However, also: the body of knowledge of the specific customer’s wishes can be linked to the supply-chain, which increases the opportunities of developing personal, tailor-made production!

One can only guess where this will end: will all packaging be individual packaging? Will the supply chain be shorter and closer to the retailer? Will the food producer manufacture the packaging themselves so that it will reach the demand for individual packaging? What will the packaging branch do with this knowledge? Will they be a know-how-industry or will they develop small-scale production machinery that will be placed at the food producer’s factory? The possibilities are numerous.

That the techniques exist is a fact; it is only a matter of time, from implementation and system-integration. Nevertheless, when the implementation and integration have indeed happened, then there will be another sector in the IT where the gathering of data can or (perhaps better to say) will have a disruptive influence.

Packaging becomes a CEO-Business. As the importance and interest in packaging grows, businesses will have to make fundamental choices, which will compel the CEO’s to get involved as packaging will play a crucial role in this process. Packaging becomes part of a long term strategy!

It is time to come together, to learn these techniques and to understand the consequences. This will be continued on the 29th of September in Oss, the Netherlands.

Peter Stael, Across-consult
Niels de Vries, Compucraft