The legendary Holst Research Centre in Eindhoven Netherlands organised a Smart Packaging Workshop on July 3 for invited participants. This nicely covered potential end users, material and production machinery suppliers, assemblers/ printers of electronics and market research.
Basically, Holst has many remarkable advances and skills that can be applied to smart packaging, particularly e-packaging. These include its OLED lighting, barrier layers for photovoltaics and OLEDs, printed organic 128 bit HF RFID, printed rectifiers for printed organic UHF RFID, a wide range of thin film and printed sensor technologies, thin film energy harvesting, MEMS and interconnect technology for multiple layer printed electronics.
Introducing the day, Gerwin Gelink of Holst announced the objective of the workshop - discussion and networking and exploring the needs for innovation in smart packaging. He said the Holst Research Centre is creating generic technologies with a time to market of 3 to 10 years. It is partnering with industry and universities, in open innovation through precompetitive shared programs with results shared between partners. He said that smart packaging concerns sensing, tracing and indication and a common problem is cost. He noted that smart packaging addresses many of the issues of our time such as ageing population, individualisation, increasing population, globalisation and food safety. Common factors here include Quality & Freshness, Authenticity & Security, Safety, Sustainability, Prevention and Cost Reduction.
Antony de Vrught VP Specialty Packaging of DSM Innovation spoke on e-communicative packaging in pharma and food. DSM seeks to be a specialty packaging systems solution provider in food and healthcare, enhancing safety, freshness and authenticity.
One example given is the "Smart Strip" developed with Compliers Group and Holst that converts a blister pack of drugs into a device that records which tablet was removed when. This improves integrity of data in drug trials but it is, as yet, too expensive to appear generally among the public. Variants of this type of technology can prompt, monitor condition, permit mobile phone interrogation and make pharmacies more productive.
Source DSM, Holst
He summarised the best models for collaboration in such developments.
Herman Schoo of Holst Research Centre discussed their approach to making smart packaging a reality, including the production line they have designed for smart blister packs. He navigated through the technology programs at Holst that are relevant to smart packaging, namely:
DSP= digital signal processing.
Professor Ted Labuza of the Department of Food Science & Nutrition at the University of Minnesota described challenges in getting food safety to be taken more seriously and the technology that can be brought to bear. For example, he showed a $1.5 electronic time temperature recorder that can help these to be more widely deployed in food safety, because previous ones have been at the $10 level which is usually unaffordable for small item monitoring. Indeed, we note that even the new product can be cost reduced much further with modern electronic printing technology for batteries, resistors, logic etc., all sectors where Holst has considerable expertise.
He noted that Freedonia forecasts the US market for active and intelligent packaging to be $1.9bn by 2013. Rapid advances in technology and more reasonable prices of products will also fuel demand growth of 8.3 per cent annually well above the rate in the packaging industry as a whole. He observed that the market drivers are strong, with companies offering unsafe product often going out of business, even after completing a recall.
He quoted an IBM study in June 2009 where 100 consumers were interviewed in each of 10 major US cities, finding that:
- 60% of consumers actively concerned about safety of their foods, only 20% believe companies develop safe foods
- 80% could accurately name an item that was recalled in last 2 years. (peanut butter 46%)
- 67% would not buy recalled brand until recall resolved
- 57% stopped buying category until resolved
- 8% would never buy brand again in future
- Only 55% show trust in manufacturer of recalled product
- 72% have faith in retailers to take recalls off shelves
However, he regretted that US food safety laws still permit paper records and he acknowledged that privacy and other concerns slow progress. IDTechEx has invited him to give his entertaining and highly informative message at Printed Electronics USA
Dr Peter Harrop of IDTechEx evaluated the market potential of electronic smart packaging relative to the printed electronics business which will be of the order of $300 billion in twenty years even if its different elements only mimic the historical growth of silicon chips, LCDs etc. Because there is almost no electronic packaging out there as yet, one can only estimate that this market might be of the order of $10 to $15 billion in ten years. E-packaging leads to brand enhancement and brand protection in the form of Safety, Security, Uniqueness, Convenience, Merchandising, Entertainment, Error Prevention, Environmental Quality Control, Quality Assurance and more.
Basic hardware platforms essential
Success depends on basic hardware platforms suitable for all industries being largely printed reel to reel to give lowest cost and highest volume. He demonstrated the Toppan Forms Audio Paper in record/ playback and playback only form as an example of this. For one industry that platform could provide clearer instructions for the elderly, for another a tear off game, for another a customer feedback device and so on but price needs to be very low. Then at least billions will be sold yearly. He saw the - as yet non-existent - scrolling large text on a low cost label as another basic platform for e-packaging and the winking label as another (first low cost ones being sold this year). He invited the audience to decide what will be the other basic platforms and figure out how to make them extremely low cost and market them horizontally to all industries. Finally he expressed the opinion that the lack of suitable printed transistor circuits in production is holding things up. However, although sub two cent printed transistor circuits and ones with thousands of transistors are so near and yet so far, some silicon chip makers now seem to envisage two cent chips of various types if sold in billions. That would create many product possibilities for e-packaging in the interim.
Karel Spee finished the morning by addressing "Ubiquitous Smart Packaging: Dream or Reality" and the afternoon consisted of an interactive session.
Holst experts on hand were:
- Ultra-low-power & wireless electronics: Jos Huisken, Guido Dolman, Rob van Schaijk, Ruud Vullers
- Printed and CMOS sensors: Mercedes Crego Calama, Sywert Brongersma, Herman Schoo
- Manufacturing processes on foil: Ronn Andriessen, Jan Vanfleeteren, Andreas Dietzel
- Integration of electronics on foil - demo's: Julien Penders, Marc Koetse, Firat Yazicioglu
Holst will now draft a joint research roadmap and engage with interested participants in future one-to-one sessions. Contact www.holstcentre.com
Top Image: Source DSM
For more attend Printed Electronics Asia 2009, Tokyo, Japan and Printed Electronics USA Dec 2-3, San Jose, CA.