01.06.2023 change 01.06.2023

Smart parcel to revolutionise courier market in Poland

Credit: Adobe Stock Credit: Adobe Stock

It secures the goods, it is reusable, and it continuously monitors the condition and location of the shipment - these are the advantages of the smart parcel developed by the Łukasiewicz Research Network institutes. The solution is expected to revolutionise the courier market in Poland.

E-Pack is the first such product in Poland. The work on it took three years; in addition to the packaging, it also included the development of an application and a depository. Preparations are underway to test the solution on the market.

Specialists from three institutes of the Łukasiewicz Research Network have been working on the solution: the Institute of Microelectronics and Photonics, the Łódź Institute of Technology and the Poznań Institute of Technology (PIT), with the latter acting as the project leader.

E-Pack project leader and director of the Center for Logistics and Emerging Technologies at Łukasiewicz – PIT Dr. Michał Grabia explains that the smart parcel looks like a top-closed, foldable plastic box with an electronic tag and a small photovoltaic panel on one of the side walls. The dimensions of the E-Pack are adapted to the compartments in parcel machines.

He says: ’Our packaging differs from others primarily by the lack of anonymity in the supply chain. Most courier shipments +disappear+ from the moment they are sent to moment they are received. Theoretically, we can track their route in an app, but in fact we do not know if they are transported in the right conditions, where exactly they are, whether they have been dropped or fallen off. E-Pack records all information about the package on an ongoing basis.’

The packaging is equipped with sensors that monitor the condition of the parcel. This includes an accelerometer that detects overloads and damage to the product, and humidity and temperature sensors that let you know if water has gotten into the package or if the storage temperature of the products transported in it has been exceeded. Each e-Pack is secured with an electronic lock, opened with a special smartphone app.

A special mesh attached to the inside of the e-pack protects the content from moving inside the box. Thanks to it, no additional fillers are needed.

E-Pack is a reusable packaging. After receiving the parcel packed in it, the customer will have to give it back to the courier, drop it off in a parcel machine or at the parcel collection point.

'Of course, it will be possible to return the purchased goods together with the e-Pack. There will be no need to print a new label - after selecting the return in the app, the updated data will appear on the package screen,’ says Kawa. The electronic label is made of e-paper.

E-Pack is durable; its developers estimate that it can be used for more than five years. It is energy-efficient and has a modular design, so the individual parts of the package can be easily repaired or replaced. E-Pack can be charged with a photovoltaic panel and in special slots installed at parcel machines.

'The degree of advancement of this solution, the possibility of controlling the status and location of the parcel, the simplification of logistics processes - all this means that we can talk about a revolution on the courier parcel market,’ says Kawa.

E-Pack has not yet been tested on the market. Its creators are now looking for companies interested in becoming the operator of the system. At the beginning, about 50,000 smart parcels would be market-launched.

PAP - Science in Poland, Rafał Pogrzebny

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