Carolina Pinto joined GlobalData’s Thematic Intelligence team in September 2022. She is particularly interested in macro themes including ESG, regulation, and geopolitics. She is currently working with the consumer goods team on reports about emerging technologies.

Lara Virrey: What are the most exciting developments in AI for the packaging industry today?  

Caroline Pinto: Predictive maintenance is one of the most useful artificial intelligence (AI) use cases for the packaging sector. AI-powered predictive maintenance is used in manufacturing and distribution to reduce machine downtime. AI sensors continuously monitor the condition of machines and other equipment in factory lines and predict when maintenance is required.  

It can help reduce energy consumption and reduce costs of maintenance. For example, Mondi uses predictive maintenance tools across its paper manufacturing plants to save over $54,000 annually on repairs.  

Generative AI is the most recent technological advancement in the world of AI. Generative AI includes anything related to AI creating content in any shape or format, from writing original text, music, drawing, or painting. One of the most renowned examples of generative AI today is OpenAI’s ChatGPT, which can write original prose and chat with human fluency.   

In March 2023, Avery Dennison, a provider of labelling and packaging materials and solutions, incorporated ChatGPT into its atma.io platform, a supply chain management platform. Traditionally, supply chain management requires significant time dedicated to repetitive tasks, such as email follow-ups.  

With the new update, when a client is alerted to an issue related to the supplier, they can select the email icon next to the issue alert, and ChatGPT generates a draft message to the supplier. The sender can then quickly send the email or customise it by changing the tone of the email. ChatGPT reduces the time spent on repetitive tasks, freeing up time to focus on other functions. In H2 2023, Avery Dennison will release additional generative AI capabilities to optimise customer service and personalise notifications.   

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Lara Virrey: How can companies in the packaging sector benefit from advances in generative AI in particular?  

Caroline Pinto: Generative AI is a relatively new AI technology, and adoption in the packaging industry has so far been limited. Generative AI can help simplify data analytics, speed up research and development, improve marketing and customer service experiences, and automate supply chain management.  

Lara Virrey: Which barriers to the implementation of AI remain in the packaging industry, and how could they be overcome?  

Caroline Pinto: The barrier to implementation is on the industry and not necessarily on the technology. The packaging industry is slow to adopt new technologies, therefore, the first companies to adopt always pay significantly higher adoption costs.  

Having said that, companies that adopt AI early will benefit the most from increased efficiency and reduced costs. Companies most familiar with AI will be best placed to profit in the next five years.  

Regarding generative AI, there are cybersecurity and intellectual property protection concerns associated with generative AI tools that many companies are not addressing. The technology could transform packaging companies’ operations, but a corporate strategy is necessary to mitigate potential risks.  

Additionally, building AI models is expensive and unnecessary in the packaging sector. Instead, companies must regulate the use of open-source models and invest in training natural language processing (NLP) models with company data when necessary.  

Lara Virrey: What are the barriers to the implementation of the metaverse in the packaging industry?    

Caroline Pinto: The metaverse is a virtual world where users share experiences and interact in real-time within simulated scenarios. It is still largely conceptual but could transform how people work, shop, communicate, and consume content. The immaturity of the technologies central to the metaverse’s success, a lack of clear use cases, and a growing concern about data privacy and personal safety have deflated the hype around the technology in 2023.  

Despite the metaverse concept feeling alien to many consumers and companies, it will add real value to the packaging sector. Many of the vital metaverse technologies are already being used or piloted by packaging companies.  

For example, packaging companies have brought together artificial intelligence (AI), AR, VR, cloud, the Internet of Things (IoT), and other technologies to monitor and maintain key assets remotely. The sector could also use immersive metaverse solutions to optimise packaging design and quality control—testing prototypes in a virtual world before bringing them to market. The sector can also use underlying blockchain and digital twin technologies to assist in creating more transparent and traceable supply chains.  

Lara Virrey: Which companies are the leading adopters of AI technologies in the packaging sector?  

Caroline Pinto:  Avery Dennison, Berry Global and Tetra Laval