Caitlin is currently in her second year of the EngD scheme at Materials and Manufacturing Academy (M2A), Swansea University. She holds a first class honours degree in Mechanical Engineering (MEng) from Swansea University. Caitlin also spent a year in industry working for Cummins, a diesel engine manufacturing company.
She worked with WCPC for her undergraduate dissertation on the paper ‘3D printed lab on a chip with microelectronics and silicon integration’ and stayed to continue the project with the company. Since graduating, Caitlin has begun her EngD project with icmPrint, studying in the field of Active and Intelligent Packaging, which is also in association with WCPC.
My engineering doctorate aims to offer a solution to replace expiry dates on food packaging with a more accurate detection system, broadly termed, smart packaging. A small ultra-low cost antenna is printed onto food packaging and can be scanned to communicate the freshness of a food product to an operating system, controlled by the customer or industrial process. Additionally, the sensor will minimise food waste by providing real-time feedback on the food state rather than assumptions made by the manufacturers and customers. This will aid in the reduction of the 1.3 billion tonnes of food that is lost or wasted each year, which equates to approximately one third of all food production according to the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations.
This research will offer the food industry a valuable platform from which products can be tracked and freshness monitored throughout the manufacturing process and distribution lines, increasing visibility and enabling data analysis to improve efficiency. This cheap alternative to Amazon’s automated checkout system will reduce company losses via stolen goods and speed up customer check out times. This project offers benefits to both company and customer, and will be adaptable to easily work with other technologies in the bio-detection field.