It is undeniable that shipping processes have improved in the past several decades. Thanks to advanced data science and software applications, business leaders can develop stronger and more efficient logistics to get goods from here to there.
And yet, many business leaders remain frustrated by the lack of development they find in packaging options — especially packaging designed for cold chain applications. It may seem that companies are forced to make a difficult choice between tools and materials that are unsustainable, unaffordable, and ineffective. Fortunately, there have been advancements in the field of packaging materials and technologies, and cold chain partners can find out more about them here:
Paper might not seem like an advanced packaging material, considering that it is perhaps among the oldest forms of packaging. To provide a basic layer of protection to shipped goods, people have used paper wrapping for centuries. However, the paper packaging used today is much more advanced than the straightforward paper coverings of the past. Thanks to innovations in thickness and shape, paper can be used as new types of packaging, such as insulation that cushions and maintains the temperature of goods during shipment. Paper is inexpensive, disposable, and remarkably renewable, especially now that managed timberlands are so efficient, so utilizing paper for a wide variety of packaging solutions is a way for shippers to maintain sustainability while keeping their goods safe.
Because sustainability in shipping is such a significant concern for shippers, engineers are constantly looking for natural and renewable resources to develop into packaging solutions. One of the most innovative solutions to emerge recently is recycled cotton insulation. Because cotton is among the most used textile fiber in the world, there is an abundance of used cotton to recycle into packaging. Certain processing techniques allow cotton to transform into an incredibly insulating material, which both cushions and provides thermal protection to sensitive goods.
Advanced Temp Sensors
In many ways, the cold chain supports the global economy by ensuring that sensitive goods can travel safely and securely to all regions. Thus, food, medicines, technology, and other critical resources can be available around the globe. However, to ensure the effectiveness of the cold chain, both shippers and carriers need to make use of temperature sensors, which monitor the temperature of transportation and storage spaces to maintain the integrity and quality of goods. Fortunately, there is a great diversity of temperature sensors to meet every need. Shippers might utilize temperature indicators, which rely on temperature-sensitive chemical reactions to denote an unsafe temperature. Meanwhile, carriers might use smart sensors that provide real-time data regarding temperatures in various locations along the cold chain.
Radiant barriers are reflective coverings that deflect light and heat. The technology is relatively simple and remarkably effective at maintaining stable temperatures within packages surrounded by radiant barriers. Light and heat from the outside cannot penetrate the barrier and wreak havoc on shipped goods. Sometimes, radiant barriers are designed as box liners; others are insulated pouches that goods can be tucked into; and still, others surround entire pallets. Radiant barriers function best when paired with other advanced technologies that cushion, as a reflective barrier may not protect goods from the shocks and impacts that are inevitable during transport.
Though artificial intelligence may not be directly responsible for keeping shipped goods contained and safe during transportation, AI will undoubtedly be a critical tool for discovering and developing new packaging solutions in the future. AI programs are designed to manage much larger quantities of data than the human mind can recall, and by analyzing that data with greater speed, AI can help find insights that lead to greater innovation. As AI becomes more sophisticated in the coming years, AI solutions will be able to work with engineers to improve packaging solutions, ensuring that all shippers and carriers have the tools and materials they need to keep individual goods perfectly safe and secure.
By no means have we reached a peak of innovation in packaging. Though packaging solutions are better than ever at keeping goods safe, shippers and carriers should stay abreast of developments in the packaging industry and continue experimenting with new and exciting packaging products.