In Out of the box

Machine learning and artificial intelligence have infiltrated all areas of our lives. Every device we use has AI driving the programs, software, and applications that power our lives. AI allows Uber to predict rider demand and send you the closest driver. Your email application uses AI to sort out spam and categorize your emails. Teachers use programs that can detect plagiarism within seconds. And your bank uses AI to facilitate everything from fraud to deposits and more.

Without question packaging has been influenced by AI as well. Here’s what you need to know about artificial intelligence and packaging.

Sorting Recycled Goods

The ability to sort recycled products is critical for making sure the byproducts can be used efficiently. AI for sorting is expanding the capabilities for recycling:

“Thanks to a partnership between the Carton Council of North America and AMP Robotics, a new player has entered the sorting game for food and beverage cartons. Clarke is a robot that grabs and sorts food and beverage cartons from a conveyor belt as recyclables are separated. Clarke is currently installed at Alpine Waste & Recycling MRF in Denver, Colo.”

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Vision Systems for Inspection

When customers receive boxes with the wrong items this can create a string of consequences for the distributor as well as the end user (and everyone in between). A PDA distributor developed a vision system that led to 100% accuracy with package inspection:

“When multiple items are being packaged into one box there are a number of boxes that have to be checked before the package can be sent out. Are all of the items in the box? Are they arranged correctly to ensure safe delivery? A renown lighting systems company needed an automated system to inspect every single box or they were not going to make it much longer. After implementing the vision system our client experienced a halt in customer complaints.”

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Date Labeling (and other labeling solutions)

Machines can accomplish much more than humans can in a given time period. This only works, though, when the machines are intelligent and adaptable to real life scenarios. Here’s how AI is helping with date labeling:

“The solution is to add AI into the machine vision process – in essence giving those eyes a brain. “We make up a data set with many, many examples,” explained Gudmundsson, “then we train a deep neural network to extract the features of the images – in the case of date codes this is usually the letters and digits – then we train the system to be able to classify the features. We can then input, say, 20 November, and the machine will be able read that and if the new image doesn’t match, it will flag it up and we will be able to shut down the line before it gets sent out. The beauty is that it can factor in variation; if the number two is slightly tilted, it would still be able to recognise it as a two.””

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The process of getting your products to your customers is not as easy as it sounds. Here’s how AI is helping to streamline the shipping process:

“With a manual process, your team has to make many manual decisions: which box(es) to use, how to orient items within the box, which packing materials are appropriate, whether to palletize a large shipment or ship it as individual boxes, etc. When things get busy, teams inevitably make mistakes by grabbing whatever packaging is most easily accessible. With carrier dimensional weight charges, the skyrocketing cost of packing materials and ever increasing labor costs, every manual decision is costing you money. But when you deploy a data-driven shipping automation platform (what we like to call Transportation Management 2.0) that includes an intelligent packing algorithm, the solution is always learning and applying its knowledge to making more cost-effective packing decisions.”

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Warehouse Automation

E-commerce is a major part of the packaging industry. Being able to efficiently serve e-commerce clients is a challenge for packaging distributors. Here’s how warehouse automation can help:

“While there are only a few ways in which AI has molded e-commerce today, the scalability and impact of AI in e-commerce is only expected to increase. The increase will allow identification of exceptional prospects, building better customer relations, boosting sales, and bridging the gap between personalization and privacy.”

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