Maybe it’s time to cut the cord.

Cell phones. PDAs. Bluetooth. Wireless communication continues to advance in our personal lives and in the business world. Acceptance in packaging departments has been spotty at best, though. Perhaps you would use more wireless technology if you could clearly see the benefits.

Well…take a look at these production and marketing ideas:

1. Henry Morris, senior vice president of operations and engineering at Smithfield Foods, told attendees at thePMMIAnnual Meeting in September about a fast new way to troubleshoot machinery to help cut downtime.

The Smart Tech system fromMarlenuses a hardhat equipped with a video camera and microphone. People at different locations throughout the world-such as a mechanic at a Smithfield plant and a technical service rep at a Marlen facility-connect through Skype, an inexpensive internet-based global communication service.

The helmet-cam, as it’s called, significantly speeds up diagnostics because communication is in real time and hands free so the mechanic is able to immediately perform whatever task the service tech recommends.

No travel means less cost. No waiting for a service tech to show up means getting back to production mode quicker.

2. Expect to see a flurry of marketing promotions, such as special bar codes on packages, that connect consumers to a company’s website or other downloads through their cell phones.

For example, Sam’s Wines and Spirits, a Chicago-based store selling imported and domestic liquors and gourmet foods, gives customers special promotions-while they’re in the store-through text messages on their cell phones.

Here’s how it works: Shoppers use their cell phone to send a text message to 30364 with the word “Sam’s1.” They then receive text coupons that they show at the register to receive a discount.

Consumers can also get recipes, promotions and more from Springer Mountain Farms by taking a picture with their cell phone of a special two-dimensional bar code on packages of the company’s organic chicken (seethis new packagefor more details).

3. Check outmy blogfor my third idea. F&BP