Packaging

Digital Twin Technology for Primary Packaging 

Manufacturers are facing increasing pressure to provide information about a product to their supply chain partners, legal departments, marketing teams, regulatory bodies, and other stakeholders even before the product is physically created.

To meet these demands, manufacturers are increasingly leveraging packaging innovations such as a “digital twin” of a product before the real product exists. In other words, they create virtual space in a web browser and other digital environments in which they can see and “feel” the product long before it’s manufactured.

Twin Technology

Digital twin technology refers to the creation of a virtual replica or digital counterpart of a physical object, process, or system. It involves using advanced technologies such as sensors, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, data analytics, and artificial intelligence to capture real-time data and simulate the behavior and characteristics of the physical counterpart in a digital environment. This virtual representation, known as a digital twin, allows for monitoring, analysis, and optimization of the physical object or system in a virtual space. Digital twin technology offers valuable insights, predictive capabilities, and the ability to simulate scenarios, enabling better decision-making, improved performance, and increased efficiency in various industries such as manufacturing, healthcare, transportation, and more.

Consider a pharmaceutical company working to bring a new treatment into its product pipeline. While the company designs the drug and pursues FDA approval and patents, it must simultaneously create the corresponding package artwork and insert leaflet. Why? Because the FDA is demanding to know what the product package and leaflet are going to say. Or the sales team wants to go into a retailer and confidently show what the product looks like and how it feels — all before it even exists.

Case in point

Gerresheimer AG, a top healthcare solutions and drug delivery systems provider, teamed up with Merck, Darmstadt, a leading science and technology company, to create a digital twin solution for the pharmaceutical supply chain. This innovative concept enhances traceability and trust in critical stages of the supply chain. The goal is to revolutionize the pharmaceutical industry by creating digital replicas of primary packaging. By connecting all participants through a unified network, the solution ensures complete traceability and builds digital trust. This leads to cost savings, better quality control, and the potential for new business models through process automation. The proof of concept aims to transform how pharmaceuticals are packaged and delivered, making the entire supply chain more efficient and reliable.

Primary packaging contains “key”

With the jointly developed solution, the physical primary packaging is provided with a secure “key” through which the connection to the associated digital twin is established. During their “journey” through the supply chain – from production to the patient – primary packaging, such as syringes or ampoules, connect and collect important data linked to their unique identifier. They thus become a valuable source of information, containing data from different digital ecosystems and enabling more efficient collaboration between different organizations within the supply network.

The new solution applied to Gerresheimer’s products uses a blockchain-based platform and multi-patented authentication technologies from Merck to securely anchor physical objects in the digital world. Combined with Industry 4.0 standards, this is a highly robust and reliable solution, the companies emphasize.

The joint Gerresheimer and Merck project includes syringes with secure and unique identifiers, a smartphone app and access to the digital twin’s functions via Merck’s digital platform. The smartphone app is accessible to authorized stakeholders such as brand owners (marketing authorization holders) and quality assurance representatives at the manufacturer. After authenticating the syringe and scanning the unique identifier, authorized individuals can access the stored quality and root cause analysis data as well as processing functions for customer complaints.

Not so long ago, product packaging was largely an afterthought for most manufacturers. Nevertheless, the companies that are thriving in today’s competitive landscape are those that prioritize packaging innovations as a key aspect of their business strategies. Among these innovations, the utilization of a ‘digital twin’ stands out, enabling stakeholders to gain insights about a product even before its physical existence.

Machine Dalal platform is preferred by buyers and sellers from the global print industry to get directly connected with each other and trade their machinery.               

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