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R&D can this packaging be tested for leaks


Project details

Accurate leak detection
Product innovation
New concept; prototype

Related cases

Every week the developers of Oxipack receive phone calls from R&D managers, product developers, packaging technologist, engineers and packaging development managers. These people want to improve their leak detection systems or are enquiring about whether a new packaging concept can be tested.
We are pleased to contribute our thoughts about possible leak detection solutions, concerning:

  • Leak detection for existing product packaging
  • Testing new forms of packaging
  • Testing prototypes and initial runs for leaks
  • Packaging that at present simply cannot be tested for leaks.

Leak detection for existing product packaging
Problems often occur regularly on existing product packaging lines when leaks are not noticed or if leaks are not noticed in time. This is frequently caused by the current packaging leak detection system not being accurate enough. More accurate testing is possible using the leak detection method offered by Oxipack. This method is based on measuring differences in pressure. We set up the required parameters in close cooperation with your production and quality control departments.

Would you like a more in-depth approach? Then Oxipack can bring its broad range of experience to bear in the areas of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and leak detection in order to provide a customised in-line leak detection system.

Testing new forms of packaging
Are you involved with a new packaging concept? Then it is worth considering the possibilities offered by leak detection during the early stages of development; either in-line testing or with random sampling. Whether leak detection is possible depends in part on the form of the design. Can the packaging design be tested, yes or no? Using the current equipment? If not, what type of leak detection can be applied to meet the quality requirements?

The sooner consideration is given to leak detection during the design process, the simpler it is to implement. The same applies with regard to investment.

Leak detection check list

What requirements does the new packaging concept have to meet, in order to prevent leak detection problems in the new packaging production line? Well in advance of the design being produced you should check the following key aspects.

  • Does the packaging need to be produced so that it is leak free? □ yes □ no
  • Can this packaging be produced so that it is leak free? □ yes □ no
  • Can the new packaging be tested for leaks?   □ yes □ no
  • Does the company have leak test equipment for this packaging? □ yes □ no
  • Does the leak test equipment meet the current quality requirements? □ yes □ no
  • Is the current leak test method non-destructive?  □ yes □ no
  • Does the company want to have 100% in-line leak detection built in? □ yes □ no

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The right moment to think about leak detection
The sooner leak detection is included in the design process, the easier it is to include it in the design. If the packaging technologist only thinks about how to test for leaks in the new design when putting a new design into production, then it is too late. It is relatively simple to change a detail of the design at an early stage in the process. Which makes in-line leak detection possible.

The sooner consideration is given to leak detection, the simpler it is to implement.

But when should that be? Initially not all parties involved will get to have their say. The marketing department may come up with new product packaging and ultimately takes the lead. Once the packaging technologist, engineer or R&D department are involved in the project, then this is the point at which they can bring up the question of leak detection. So the question is: does the packaging need to be leak free? Can it be tested for leaks? Do we want to have in-line leak testing? Non-destructive testing? Does it comply with our conditions? Do we have the equipment for it? If not, how do we acquire it? These points need to be included in a development check list.

Testing prototypes and initial runs for leaks
Has a new packaging concept been developed? Do you want to have a sample run tested for leaks? Many types of packaging can be immediately tested using stand alone leak detection equipment provided by Oxipack. In this way the basic quality of the new packaging can be determined and a benchmark can be established. For temporary leak detection you can rent accurate measuring equipment from Oxipack or make use of our services for testing prototypes.

Packaging that at present simply cannot be tested for leaks
Sometimes packaging specialists search for years to find a better leak test for their product. This may be because the leaks are very difficult to measure or the current test method is laborious and time consuming. Oxipack would also be pleased to offer their input for customised solutions. We really relish a challenge.

Questions about leak detection? We have the answers.

How do we reduce the percentage of leaks?
This percentage can only be reduced if the exact figures are known. When trying to optimise efficiency a proper analysis of the actual percentage of leaks is vital. Actually finding out how many leaking packages are being produced is difficult to do.
Closer, critical investigation shows that the percentage of leaks is always greater than expected. All kinds of factors play a part and views on leak detection vary. Nobody wants to stop a production line, but the consequence further down the line, is that large numbers of packed products will need to be destroyed.
Attack the problem at source: the packaging machine. If you know exactly how many leaking packages are being produced then you will very quickly have the packaging machine under control and the percentage of leaks as well. Systematic leaks can be traced using systematic sample testing. Random leaks can only be detected using 100% leak detection.

What savings can be made with leak detection? Leaking packaging always causes losses in the whole production chain. Which might even damage your brand reputation. Leak detection however is a tool that results in savings.
Savings of one to two tonnes in euro’s for each packaging line per year are possible in the food products sector. The calculations vary according to circumstances and depend on the product and raw materials used. Is the current packaging destructively tested for leaks? If so the savings are even greater.

Would the number of staff needed, change due to in-line leak detection? When using 100% leak detection less people are needed for final checks. The operator spends less time on checking and has time to deal with other tasks. The leak detection equipment results in no additional stoppages due to maintenance.
In the first few weeks the equipment will regularly detect leaking packaging. It will look like more packages are being found with leaks than before. The cause of the leak will have to be traced in order to solve the problem with the packaging machine. The Production Manager should take this into account. After a couple of weeks the packaging process will have improved so much that leaking packaging will only be detected once in a while. And that is why you chose for in-line leak detection.

Is 100% leak free packaging possible?No, it just is not possible. There will always be tiny leaks and it is hard to predict where and why they occur.

  • It could be a random event, when the product just happens to come into contact with the edge of the seal.
  • Other leaks develop systematically. Then every twelfth package has a leak, a whole pallet or a certain corner of a seal. There could be a small pip on a roller that the foil runs over. Or perhaps one of the twelve sealing jaws in the vacuum applyers does not heat properly.

Are there more packages leaking than before?The “lean” production methods in the food processing sector seem to increase the number of leaks. Stocks are kept to a minimum. In the past, the same product would roll off the production line continuously for a whole week, now the same packaging production line will switch between all sorts of flavours and umbrella brands. Due to this change the production line does not run continuously. After a few shifts the packaging machine is converted to produce packaging using other paper covers or a single foil wrapper. This could be for another country or subsidiary brand.
As a result of lean production methods the machine has to be restarted a few times every week. And the start up process normally entails a run with a series of leaking packages. As the packaging production line has to get up to speed, the sealing process takes longer. This means the product material is exposed to high temperatures for a longer period. This results in a higher percentage of leaks.

How long does it take to recoup the investment?The answer depends on another question: what does leaking packaging cost the company?
Is this difficult to find out? Just ask yourself this:

  • What does it cost if a production run of 12 hours has leaks?
  • And what is the cost of four hours production for repackaging?

The investment in stand alone leak detection can be recouped in a few months.
In-line leak detection equipment pays for itself in one to two years.
It can sometimes be hard to present a business case if you do not have the exact figures relating to down-time or leak percentages. We can help you with the calculations.

Is it a dry measurement method?The Oxipack leak test equipment works by measuring pressure. Water is not used in this process and no detection gases are used. It is a clean, dry and extremely precise test method. This applies to both the stand alone leak testers and in-line leak detection systems. This form of testing allows you to get rid of the not so hygenic water immersion tank from the production area.

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 random sample testing during production. Where necessary, it can run continuously.

What does in-line leak detection mean for the operator?Introducing 100% leak detection demands some extra work from the operator initially. The first weeks will be more demanding; the system will detect leaking packaging more often than expected. That means the operator will have to trace what is causing the leaks. The operator will also have to handle the rejected packaging. Once the packaging machine has been set up for optimum performance, the number of leaks in the packaging will drop sharply and things will be easier for the operator.

Is it difficult to operate the stand alone leak tester?Quite the opposite, operating is simplicity itself. Open the cover, put the packaging in, close the cover and press the green button. The equipment does the rest. If the green light comes on, that means the packaging has no leaks. If the red light is on then the packaging has a leak. A simple but a reliable test method.

How often does the leak tester break down?” Almost never. The Stationary Leak Tester is a robust device that can handle 500 to 1000 leak tests a day. Breaks downs are very rare. Most importantly the leak tester needs very little maintenance. An occasional clean with a damp cloth is all that is needed. An annual service is sufficient to check the condition of the membranes and filters.

What do operators think about working with the Stationary Leak Tester?What do operators think about working with the Stationary Leak Tester?
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.

R&D can this packaging be tested for leaks

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