Between Trump’s shock election in the USA, Brexit, and Australia’s fifth straight Test defeat, 2016 has been a year to remember. But while all this was happening, what was going on in the coding and labelling world?
Changes and advancements in the coding and labelling field are accelerating, and it can be hard to keep up. So, as we near the end of 2016, let’s review the trends and innovations we’ve seen this year. (You can remind yourself of our predictions for 2016 here to see how they stacked up.)
Here are the top trends in coding and labelling of 2016:
- Serialisation became more important than ever
Counterfeiting is a growing issue in manufacturing, especially food and beverage, and 2016 has been no exception. With the rise of goods exports, the food and beverage industry is realising the importance of applying serialisation for better traceability, authenticity and protection for the brand and consumer. Serialisation provides a way to counteract the counterfeiters by making it more difficult, and less financially viable, for them to enter the supply chain. (See how winemakers are beating the counterfeiters.)
For example, Camperdown Dairy International embeds a unique, serialised QR code onto the labels of infant formula tins heading to China. Working with Matthews Australasia and Trust Codes, the Melbourne dairy processor now has a unique identifier showing details of the batch and the place it was made. Consumers can scan the QR code to authenticate its origin and interact with the brand. (Get the full story on how Camperdown Dairy International uses serialisation. See here what I wrote on what your business needs to know about product traceability. This presentation on “Serialisation 101” has some good content, while this infographic clearly sets out the basics.)
- Digital labelling takes on a new dimension
Smart packaging was another of the top trends in coding and labelling of 2016 and it exploded! In 2016, brand owners were continuously finding ways to add value to the consumer with digital content via the label.
Champagne producer GH Mumm recently developed a new digitally intelligent bottle with an RFID chip and sensor that tells clubs and bars when the consumer has opened it. This triggers a personalised, interactive sound and visual experience that, according to GH Mumm, “enhances the celebration experience”.
American brewer Anheuser-Busch introduced its tequila-flavoured beer, Oculto, with unrivalled interactivity and sensory labelling. Not only does thermochromics ink on the reverse of the label change colour depending on the beer temperature, the brand launched the product with a promotion where customers could scan their bottles, connect to a special app and win prizes. A web app, “Relics of the Night”, lets them interact with the brand online, join the community on social media, and earn rewards and prizes by posting comments and photos. (You may also be interested in these smart labelling trends.)
- Labels allow consumers to trace goods
Smart labelling is also being used to educate consumers about where their products come from and their global impact. For example, Thankyou products are each fitted with a digital ID allowing consumers to track their global impact. By entering the tracking code on the website and creating a personal profile, Thankyou customers can see how their purchase is helping fund a project, including exact GPS coordinates of the village and detailed updates.
Meanwhile, free range chicken brand Lilydale has launched new labelling that allows consumers to trace each chicken back to the farm it came from – every pack has a unique farm code traced from the second it comes off the farm through to the end label.
As consumers start to anticipate this kind of interaction and traceability, we can expect the coding and labelling world to venture in exciting new directions in the coming year, building on one of the top trends in coding and labelling of 2016.
- New Country of Origin Labelling
The new Country of Origin Labelling (CoOL) for Australia’s food packaging was given the green light in 2016. Designed to provide consumers with more transparent, informative labelling on the foods they buy, the new system means that labels indicate the proportion of Australian ingredients by weight via a statement and a bar graph.
It also provides clearer rules around when food labels can carry “made in” or “packed in” statements. For example, imported foods that are only sliced, canned, reconstituted or repackaged here can no longer make the claim of being Australian Made (“Australian Made” can give your business a real advantage). The “Grown in Australia” label can only be used for food where 100% of the ingredients are Australian grown, and “Product of Australia” only applies to food where 100% of the ingredients are Australian and all major processing has been done here. While the mandatory deadline for manufacturers and producers is July 2018, the first country of origin labels hit Woolworths’ shelves in October.
- Industry 4.0 takes off (slowly)
It’s been a slow burner for Australian manufacturing, but Industry 4.0 has finally started to pick up pace in 2016. Big data is a key element in Industry 4.0, and one that is impacting coding and labelling processes, as well as the overall production line.
By monitoring in-depth data in real time, operators and line supervisors are instantly aware of real-time production effectiveness, performance and quality information of packaging lines. Detailed production data for a day, week or even years of operations can be stored in a central database and accessed via the internet or extranet. This enables manufacturers to make the required improvements and changes to enhance efficiency and their bottom line.
That said, when it comes to Industry 4.0, Australian manufacturers have a long way to go. Watch this space in 2017 — there’s huge potential yet to be reached. In the meantime, here’s what you need to know about Industry 4.0.
- Manufacturers say hello to cobots
Robots have gradually been taking on more tasks on the factory floor, and, due to the new generation of more-affordable robots, big and small manufacturers are now embracing the technology.
In 2016, we began to see the growth of collaborative robots, or “cobots”, which are designed to work side-by-side with humans. Cobots are being used to take on mundane and repetitive processes, freeing the human operator to do other value-adding tasks. We’re still at the very beginning of this trend, so it will be interesting to watch how it impacts coding and labelling in 2017. (The Industry 4.0 article also mentions cobots.)
What’s in store for 2017?
Economic and lifestyle changes, and a growing focus on sustainable packaging, have fuelled rapid growth in the labels market, according to global researcher Smithers Pira. It predicts these factors will drive market growth by 5.4% annually between 2016 and 2021 to reach $44.8 billion. Together with the relentless demand for innovation, interactivity and traceability, the world of coding and labelling is primed for some big changes in the coming year. Australian manufacturers simply can’t afford to be complacent if they want to remain in the game, win customers and protect their brand.
What did you see in the coding and labelling world in 2016? How did the top trends in coding and labelling of 2016 affect your business? What are you expecting in 2017? Stay up to date on the latest trends and news with our blog, and sign up to our quarterly newsletter, it sums up the latest blogs in a single, easy-to-see format.
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Image credit / Kritchanut