Esko recently delivered a “world-first” in connected packaging production, enhancing secure Variable-Data Print (VDP) capabilities in terms of both speed and scale via a new collaboration with Scantrust, and pioneering packaging company ePac Flexible Packaging. Esko’s Automation Engine is at the heart of the capabilities with its VDP technology that enables the printing of serialized and secure QR codes on flexible packaging on a mass scale, thereby unleashing the power of VDP for a new connected packaging and connected goods service called ePacConnect.
“Variable-data printing has the ability to take the role of packaging to a whole new level,” said Esko Product Manager Paul Land. “With opportunities for localization, serialization, personalization and traceability, the advances in automation mean that it’s now possible to further harness the technology to transform the prepress environment. With cloud deployment for 24/7 global access to data, and new scalability capabilities, Automation Engine is enabling ePac to realize the power of VDP for an organization without the downsides. By connecting the VDP module in Automation Engine with Scantrust, we’ve created a framework for codes that makes it easy for converters to use. Not only is this implementation the first of its kind, but it also unlocks capabilities that were previously difficult to achieve,” Land pointed out. Because every ePacConnect flexible pack includes a Scantrust QR code, every pouch becomes “an online gateway.” The unique on-pack code, which is smaller than a postage stamp, activates the Scantrust suite of connected goods and connected packaging tools. Accessible features range from consumer engagement tools to active brand protection and anti-counterfeiting features that work through scans of a safe QR code on the package.
Ryan Kiley, Director of Market Development at ePac Flexible Packaging (Austin, Texas), said the ability to produce mass scale VDP regardless of run size had been a game-changer. “Scale is where the rubber meets the road,” he said. “Scale is what we can accomplish through working together. Now, with a single click, a customer can turn their packaging into an interactive platform delivering consumer engagement, proof of provenance, and brand protection, while reducing touch points in prepress and production. With the VDP automation, we can accelerate our rate of growth as we add plants, people, systems, languages, currencies, substrates, structures and other technologies. And with Automation Engine being cloud-based, it means that we have total control over our production – with our teams able to access files from anywhere at any time for 24/7 operation, scale production up or down to meet demand, and enable us to divert the production to any plant around the world. As a result, our ePacConnect service has achieved customized, flexible packaging with connected packaging features that require very little or no up-front costs, lower minimum order requirements, and minimal technical set-up.”