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Preventing quality complaints by accurate leak test


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Project details

Complaints about spoiled food products
Current method of measurement is outdated – can very small leaks also be detected?
Soft-packs and MAP’s
Quality

Related cases

It is very disturbing if complaints are received from consumers about spoiled food products. Perhaps the packaging had a leak. Of course the Quality Department continually carries out sample testing according to the agreed standards. But the test methods are outmoded.

Nearly all food manufacturers detect leaks in packaging using the bubble test method in an immersion tank or by squeezing the packaging. This does give an indication but does not provide certainty. This means there is a serious risk of complaints about quality. The bubble test method has always been pretty inaccurate. A leak in the packaging of less than 30 µm does not show up. The consequences? It is only when the food products reach the consumer that it is found that the contents have gone off or are not fit to eat. This results in complaints.

Accurate method using pressure measurements
There is now a far better method available and it is a dry method. The stand alone leak detection equipment from Oxipack that has recently been brought onto the market works on pressure readings and is extremely accurate. It is also very fast; the operator can tell if packaging has any leaks within thirty seconds, using a simple test. The equipment can be set up to provide accuracy right down to 10 µm. In this way the set up of the packaging machine can be properly checked and the number of leaks can be dramatically reduced. Most importantly the equipment does not depend on operator interpretation: anyone who carries out the test will arrive at the same results. The quality aspect is not dependant on the accuracy or attentiveness of the operator.

The operator does not have to constantly be looking for bubbles, as is the case when using the bubble test method. And the operator does not have to press or squeeze a set number of packages.

The Stationary Leak Tester has only two possible outcomes: a green light (okay) or a red light (leak). So there is only one interpretation: good or bad. It does not matter if ten different operators use the Oxipack leak detection system, they will all arrive at the same result. Thus the results do not depend on the person.

Reduces wastage;
The Oxipack method is non-destructive, clean and dry. The packaging that is tested does not need to be thrown away. This is something that often happens with the bubble test method. With the bubble test method the packaging always balloons under the water by the vacuum that is created. There is then a risk of contamination by the water in the tank. With the Oxipack leak detection system the packaging remains intact. So after successfully passing the test all the airtight packaging can be returned to the production line. This further reduces wastage.

In-line leak detection
Are you considering using in-line testing of all product packaging so that the products can be checked for leaks totally automatically? Oxipack can work in close cooperation with your engineering department to develop a custom designed solution. This will improve the efficiency of the entire production process. This means the risk of packaging only being rejected in the warehouse is a thing of the past.

Sustainable investment
The leak detection systems offered by Oxipack reduce the number of complaints and the percentage of rejected packaging. Moreover the product packaging that is tested no longer has to be destroyed. Thus this is a sustainable investment that pays for itself.

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How accurate is the Stationary Leak Tester?
The Oxipack leak test equipment detects extremely small holes in vacuum packaging and soft packs right down to 10 micron (µm). This means hundredths of a millimetre. This makes our equipment one of the most accurate non-destructive micro leak test equipment in the packaging industry. In this way you are able to test packaging during production to ensure it is as leak-free as possible thus preventing complaints and quality issues.

How fast is the standard Stationary Leak Tester?
The full leak test of a packaged item is completed in 30 seconds. Testing smaller packaging takes a few seconds less than testing a relatively larger packaged item.

Can the degree of accuracy be adjusted?
Certainly, as every manufacturer has his own requirements. The degree of accuracy of the leak tester depends on the shelf life of the product and the volume of the packaging. A far greater degree of accuracy may be needed for one product compared to another. Oxipack will set up the leak tester according to the requirements of the quality control department. The best set up for your type of product will be installed after discussions with you.
If after some time you would like to change the accuracy of the equipment, for example to test a new form of packaging, then please get in touch with us. Oxipack can change the settings in the programme after discussing it with you.

Is the equipment easy to operate?
Operating the equipment is very easy. Open the cover, put the packaging in, close the cover, press the green button. The equipment does the rest. It creates a vacuum between the two membranes, automatically measures the pressure twice and compares the readings with one another. If the green light comes on, that means the packaging has no leaks. If the red light comes on then the packaging has a leak. A fast and simple method of measuring but very reliable. Accuracy is not dependant on the attentiveness of the operator.

How are the measurements reported?
The measurements are stored in the equipment itself, 2,500 to 5,000 readings, depending on the client’s preference. The test equipment can also be connected with internal measuring, storage and maintenance systems using a data cable. This option is a standard feature on the Oxipack Stationary Leak Tester.

The measurements are continuously and automatically transmitted, wherein the test results being stored in the system. The quality manager is able to look at and interpret the result on the computer screen at any time. Also it is possible to search for a certain production date and time. The quality manager is not dependent on a manual check list with ticked boxes. It is clearly demonstrated and plain to see that tests have been carried out and what the results of the tests were.

Can the measurements also be viewed without a data connection?
Is there no internal direct data connection available? In that case the measurements for the last 5,000 readings can be viewed on the display of the leak tester. It is actually easier to use the download option. Using the software included you can download the data to a USB stick on site and then view and interpret that data at your leisure.

How should the readings be interpreted?
When we set up the equipment we will go through how to interpret the readings with you. If you have any questions later, please get in touch with us. Just email the readings you have questions about to us. Then we will be able to go through it with you.

How is the leak test calibrated?The standard settings for calibrating the Oxipack leak tester are built into the equipment itself. This can be tested as follows:

  • Turn the equipment on, open the cover and close it again without putting any product in. Then push the start button. This way you are testing the empty equipment.
  • Does the green light come on? The equipment has confirmed there is no leak in the whole measuring system and has thus tested itself.
  • Is the red light on? In this unlikely event something is wrong, there may be an internal leak: get in touch with Oxipack immediately.

The second way of testing the precise settings of the leak tester is by using one of our leak test dummies. These are dummy packages with calibrated micro leaks that have been laser-cut into stainless steel. These are available in 50, 25 and 10 mu sizes and are of course packed in dust free protective cases. These can be used to check that the leak tester is able to detect the calibrated leak.

Can the Stationary Leak Tester be used continuously?
Need to check large quantities of packaging at a high speed? The Oxipack testing equipment is ideally suited to this purpose. The stationary leak tester can be deployed for offline testing in a lab situation or for sample testing during production. Where necessary, it can run continuously.

How accurate does the operator need to be?
The quality aspect is not dependant on the accuracy or attentiveness of the operator. The operator does not have to be constantly looking for bubbles, as is the case when using the bubble test method in an immersion tank. Nor does the operator have to squeeze a set number of packages.
The Stationary Leak Tester has only two possible outcomes: a green light (okay) or a red light (leak). So there is only one interpretation: good or bad. It does not matter if ten different operators use the Oxipack leak detection system, they will all arrive at the same result. Thus the results do not depend on the person.

How should you clean the leak tester?
The Oxipack leak detection equipment will be able to provide years of trouble free pressure measurements and thus detect micro leaks. All that is needed is regular and careful cleaning and maintenance. It is a precision measuring instrument and needs to be treated as such.

Precisely how often the leak test equipment needs to be cleaned will depend on the conditions in the testing area. In a coffee factory, where a lot of coffee powder is swirling round, both the inner and outer surfaces need to be cleaned more often with a damp cloth than in a clean, cool production area where cheese is being packaged. Please refer to the instructions for the precise cleaning routine. Should the equipment unexpectedly have a fault, please consult the instructions for an explanation of the code displayed. If necessary please contact Oxipack.

How often is a maintenance inspection needed?
Oxipack recommends an annual service of the stationary leak test equipment based on a maintenance and service contract. When used intensively the membranes will be subjected to wear. If the profile is worn in any way the membranes need to be replaced. It may also be necessary to replace the internal dust filters, especially in dusty environments. A blocked filter can result in an error message.
During the annual service the engineer will check the profiles of the membranes, he will also replace the internal dust filters and he will check the measurement settings with calibrated leak test dummies. He will also answer any questions you might have.

Can QC investigate whether tests have been carried out and when these were carried out?
The details of readings are stored in the equipment itself. In addition, the details can be linked with existing monitoring systems using a data cable. In this way the person responsible for quality control can view the recorded measurements. A third option is to download the data onto a laptop using a USB stick provided with the software.
Has there been an interruption of the data transfer? When required the stand alone leak detection equipment on site at the factory can be fitted with a warning device to indicate when a cable is not properly connected. Testing can only be resumed once the data cable has been properly connected again.

Do operators appreciate the new leak test method?
Operators can carry out their work to an optimum level with the stationary leak tester. The fact that this is a “dry” test method is greatly appreciated. This is certainly true if the operator works in a chilled environment. We often hear operators say “it’s ideal, I no longer have to put my hands in the immersion tank, this equipment is excellent”. Because people like using the equipment, the method for taking measurements is made use of in the agreed way.

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