Ensuring the integrity of food packaging is essential. When it comes to keeping your food safe to eat, it takes a lot of vigilance to maintain proper safety standards. When food packages are leaky, they can become contaminated, ruining the contents of the package and potentially making people sick. To avoid these sorts of issues, professionals use leak detection equipment to make sure that the packages are safe.
All of the equipment used to detect leaks is very good at making sure that the packages are as secure as they need to be. Not all of this equipment operates in the same ways, though. There are different methods for detecting leaks that are only used with certain pieces of equipment. Learn about five of the most prevalent ways these leaks are detected below.
1. Bubble Testing Method
This method is really simple when you get down to it. The fact that it is simplistic doesn’t mean that it isn’t effective, though. When testers think that there may be a leak in a package, they will put it underwater. If bubbles come rising to the surface, then it confirms that there is something leaking from the package itself.
As far as leak detection goes, this certainly isn’t the most elegant method. It’s a commonly used method because of low cost and ease of use.
2. Spraying with Helium
This method can be a bit tricky to use. You need to separate a section of the material from the packaging that you’re trying to test. Using a special pump, helium is inserted into this void. If there are leaks, then the helium will penetrate parts of the packaging. There is a detector capable of measuring the helium, giving you accurate data on how bad the leak is.
This is a much more professional method of leak detection that is used by many companies. The hardest part of the process is separating the section of the material so you can pump the helium in. Once that is done, this is a very reliable method that you should make good use of.
3. Sniffing Equipment Using Helium
Another method that uses helium is sniffing equipment. This can be very effective, just as the spraying method. Helium is placed into the food packaging and sniffer detects for leaks. It’s simple in concept and will easily tell you if the package is leaking anywhere. The sniffing device is quite sensitive so it can pick up on even a minute leak.
4. Measuring Ultrasonic Sound Waves
A very common leak detection method is to measure the contents of a package using ultrasonic sound waves. The equipment involved in this process is incredibly sensitive so it will be able to give you good leak data to use. Using sound detection to see if there are any tiny leaks in the packaging will be simple to learn how to do. You’ll even be able to get data on how fast things are leaking out of the package.
5. Measuring the Rate Pressure Decays
The final method is to measure the rate that pressure is decaying within the package. The presence of a leak in the package changes how much pressure there is inside. Putting something such as dry air inside of the package will allow a device to measure the rate the pressure decays at. You can get simple but accurate data using this technique.
When foods are packaged for the shelves, the last thing the manufacturers want to deal with are leaks. Leaks can compromise product, costing the company money. It can also cost customer retention and brand loyalty due to a lack of trust a customer will have in a product if it is bad before eating. In order to prevent these problems, leak detection equipment can be used.
1. Altitude Simulation Method
The altitude simulation method involves using a vacuum chamber to test the quality of packaging at high altitudes. This is needed if the foods will be transported via airplane to their final destination. If products go untested, the high altitudes can cause the products to collapse, which can be quite costly.
2. Bubble Emission Test
If produce contains air, it can be tested with the bubble emission test for leaks. Taking the product and submerging it in water is all this test requires. If the package contains bubbles post-test, that means it did not pass and the manufacturer needs to pull the product and repackage. Bubbles indicate the water was able to infiltrate the packaging. This test looks for breaks in a packages seal, and the defects can be discarded before making it to store shelves.
3. Gas Leak Detection
Gas leak detection can occur when looking for holes in food packaging. This can also be used for both commercial and industrial leak testing. Some of the gases involved in the testing include helium, carbon monoxide, and hydrogen. Typically this is done through modified atmosphere testing. This means that the leak detection equipment will measure the amount of gases present in the packaging to see if leaking has occurred.
4. Dry Chamber Technique
The dry chamber technique looks for leaks in liquid products, such as beverages. This requires taking the product and putting it into a chamber before putting it into a vacuum. Absorbent material will help to test whether the product is leaking, and any presence of liquid produces a positive test.
In addition to vacuum testing, chambers can also be used to pressure test an item. In this case, the chamber is pressurized and packages that contain leaks will take too long to reach the pressure range.
5. Ultrasonic Imaging
Ultrasonic imaging uses wavelengths to detect defects in packaging. Similar to how an ultrasound produces an image of a fetus, an image is produced of the product for the defect to be detected and removed.
6. Machine Vision Testing
In this method, a computer with a camera is used to detect leaks. This technology is so sharp and cutting edge that it can detect leaks as small as only five millimeters.
7. Human Inspection Testing
Sometimes human inspections are necessary. While leak detection equipment proves valuable during the packaging phase, once transport occurs, all bets are off. Before shelving materials, companies will often hire human inspectors to check for new leaks so they can maintain their products’ integrity.
Leak detection tests are an essential component of the food industry. Leak test equipment lets you conduct assess and choose the right packages and seals for different altitudes. Below are six benefits of using leak detection equipment.
1. Avoid Leaks
No one wants his or her product to leak once it gets to the market. Whether it is at the store, during transit, or at the market, leaks can taint your company’s reputation. It can make it harder for customers to establish trust in your brand. Conducting tests lets you assess if a product is packaged properly.
2. Drive Your Revenue
Revenue will rise as you improve your product packaging. Proper packaging minimizes cases of product returns and wastage. It also ensures that you provide quality products that will leave customers happy and satisfied. Moreover, knowing about leak detection allow your company to improve its packaging. It enables you to create better products and avoid cases of product returns.
3. Minimize Cases of Product Spoilage
Leaking packages can cause your beverages and foods to spoil before the date of expiration. Even the smallest leak will cause food to rot. Remember that customers expect nothing short of quality products from you. Spoilage often results in wastage and returns and may taint your reputation. Potential customers might never buy your products if they have purchased spoiled products from you in the past.
4. Maintain High Quality
The goal of every company is to provide the best possible service or product. Spending an extra day to test your packaging ensures that products are sealed the right way before they get to the market. Investing in hi-tech testing equipment assures you that your product will not leak. It is also vital to stamp a valid expiration date on all your products before they get to the market. Otherwise, a product might disappoint you if it expires before the date stamped on the packaging material.
5. Hone Your Packaging Skills
Your packaging skills will improve when you conduct tests on premises. That way, you will be able to choose the packaging technique that works for you. If cartons have failed you in the past, you might want to try another packaging technique. You can use your leak detection tools to test packages such as cans, bags, and boxes. If you find that your packaging has issues, you can go back to the drawing board until you get the packaging that suits your products.
6. Prevent Environmental Pollution
Customers will ultimately send leaking products back to you. The more you send out products without testing, the more you are likely to get product returns. However, testing can help you determine the best packaging that will ensure all your products are sold.
Presence of leaks in packaged foods may be dangerous since they contain organisms that contaminate the food. Consumers need to be aware of such leaks, methods, and some of the leak detection equipment to be used to detect them. The following methods can be used to detect the leaks:
1. Bubble Test
This is a quite simple method to apply. If the consumer suspects any leak in food packaging, he should pressure the package and submerge it in a basin of water. If there are bubbles emerging from the water surface it, therefore confirms that the packaging material is leaking.
2. Ultrasonic Measurement
Leaks present will always produce sounds that are relative to their sizes. The sounds also produce frequencies that are either high or low. Smaller leaks will produce high frequency sounds hence need to use the ultrasonic detector to detect the sound.
The ultrasonic detectors are normally held in the hand. They are accompanied by a meter, a pair of headphones, and a sensitive adjustment nozzle. They normally measure the packaging leaks as well as the rate of the leaks.
3. Helium Sniff
A helium sniffer is an effective equipment to detect any leaks. The pressurized helium is charged into the material for food packaging and its surface scanned with a helium sniffer. The sniffer identifies the concentration of atmospheric air of the leaking area. The method is more efficient since it targets the exact location of the leak.
4. Pressure decay
The packaging material is first charged with dry air or nitrogen since the presence of a leak in packaging material reduces the internal pressure of the material. The pressure is then monitored for some time. In case the pressure of the packaging material reduces then it shows the presence of a leak. This method has proven to be simple, reliable and compact. It is also relatively cheap hence preferred by many people.
5. Vacuum Decay Test
It is the opposite of pressure decay testing. It entails evacuation of a certain part of the packaging material completely while the pressure is kept stable. The pressure that builds up after stabilization is the measured. This method is more appropriate since it is not affected by the changes in temperature. However, it requires food packaging material that can survive if placed in a vacuum.
6. Helium spray
This involves the separation of the food packaging material which is then attached to the detector. Helium gas is then sprayed on it. In case of any leaks, the gas will penetrate. Into the material.
It is important for consumers to know ways of detecting leaks in food packaging because these may are harmful to human life.
No one likes to think about harmful chemicals or outside materials seeping into the food that they eat.
Unfortunately, however, such leaks are a real concern for those in the food industry, as well as for consumers. The good news, though, is that there is a wide array of leak detection equipment currently on the market that is specifically designed for use with food products and food packaging.
You can make use of this equipment in addition to following simple tips for detecting and reducing leaks in food packaging. If you can do that, you should get great results and ultimately experience much fewer (if any) leakage issues.
1. Consider the Altitude Simulation Technique
To start off with, one of the best ways to test for and find leaks in food packaging is through a technique known as the altitude simulation technique.
With this method, you can test foods and their packaging at various altitudes using a vacuum chamber.
While this method is beneficial for a wide range of situations and for many different packaging types, it is particularly effective if you will be shipping food by plane or by other methods that involve severe altitude changes.
Via this method, you can protect against leaks no matter what your shipping process may involve.
2. Avoid Plastic Packaging
Something else you may want to consider, if you are really serious about avoiding leakage, is to ditch plastic packaging for your food products altogether.
While it is certainly true that not all plastic packaging is bad, it is also true that plastic tends to be one of the worst culprits when it comes to “springing a leak” or, vice versa, to letting harmful chemicals seep into food.
If you want to be truly safe and eliminate a lot of worry and hassle, then abandoning plastic packaging altogether is not a bad idea.
3. Try Ultrasonic Sealing
If you’re truly serious about leakage detection and prevention, then you may want to consider a more advanced technological solution: ultrasonic sealing.
This modern sealing method allows you to seal food packaging via a vibration process. This process can get rid of any contamination, if present, and keep further contamination from happening, all within just a few seconds of use.
While this method may be costly, it is certainly worthwhile due to its effectiveness and the peace of mind it offers.
4. Try the Bubble Emission Test
One final thing you may wish to try is the “bubble emission test,” which allows you to check for any packaging leaks by submerging the packaging in water.
Obviously, if bubbles appear once submerged, the packaging is not leak-proof and will need some work, making this a very simple, affordable, and surprisingly effective method to test your packaging.
As you can see, there are many great ways to detect and avoid leakage in food packaging. By following these tips, you can ensure your food products are as safe and as healthy as you designed them to be.
Most manufacturers will use airtight food packaging. It is because air lowers the shelf life of food and it can have a negative impact on its quality. It is the reason why it is critical that they use Leak Detection Equipment to ensure the integrity of the packaging they are using.
1. Vacuum Decay
In this method, there will removal of any content in some part of the packaging material completely and stabilizing the pressure in that area. After that, you will use equipment to measure any changes in pressure after the stabilization. However, you can only use this method for the packaging materials that can survive in vacuums. A key benefit of this method is that temperature changes cannot affect its integrity.
2. Pressure Decay
The pressure decay test works on a concept opposite to that of the vacuum decay. It works on a scientific concept that anticipates the internal pressure of packaging material to reduce when there is a leak. Before the test begins, you will fill the material will dry nitrogen at a specific pressure. After that, all you have to do is monitor the pressure. If the pressure does not reduce with time, it means that packaging is not leaking. If the opposite happens, then the packaging is leaking.
3. Bubble Method
The bubble test is one of the simplest tests that an individual can use to detect if a food packaging is leaking. Also, it does not require the use of complex Leak Detection Equipment compared to the other tests. In this method, you will need to pressurize the packaging using air. You should take care to ensure that you do not put excess pressure such that it bursts. After that, you will submerge it into a container filled with water. If the packaging is small, it would be better to submerge it in a transparent container. After that, you will observe for any bubbles. If it is leaking, you will witness the emergence of bubbles. A key benefit of this method is that you can pinpoint accurately the area where the leak is coming.
4. Ultrasonic Test
All leaks will produce sounds. The reason why you cannot hear them most of the times is that their frequency is too low or too high for your ears to pick. It is the reason why in this test you will need to use an ultrasound to detect if there are any sounds. Ultrasound detectors are very portable devices which you can comfortably hold in your hand. Some will have headphones, a nozzle for adjusting the sensitivity, and a meter. Other detectors have the capability of measuring the leak rate.
If food that is sold to the public for consumption is not sealed properly, it could lead to a variety of negative consequences for your company. Although leak detection equipment may be expensive for a business, it may be cheaper than the penalties associated with selling a tainted product.
1. Companies May Face Class-Action Lawsuits
If improperly sealed food makes customers sick, they may file a lawsuit against your company. Depending on how many people get sick, customers may band together and sue as a class. This may increase the time and money that it takes to defend the company against such claims. It may also increase the award that customers receive for medical bills, money spent on spoiled food and other damages.
2. Government Agencies May Investigate the Matter
The FDA has jurisdiction over cases in which food was not properly packaged. If it finds that your business was negligent in not following protocols to keep customers safe, it could levy a significant fine. OSHA may also want to conduct an investigation to determine if other workplace rules were violated. For instance, it may want to know if food was improperly packaged because equipment was broken or otherwise not functioning properly. If this is the case, it could result in fines or other penalties for breaking workplace safety rules.
3. The Brand May Be Tarnished
Few people are going to want to buy products from a brand that has shown a blatant lack of respect for its customers. Even if the issue was limited to a certain product or only impacted a certain geographic area, people don’t want to risk their health. If there is another option that they know is safe, they will take that one instead. This may be especially true for those who are buying food for their children.
4. Product May Need To Be Destroyed
Instead of selling chicken, cereal or other foods to customers, it may need to be thrown away if it may cause a health hazard. This could result in thousands of dollars or more worth of product being wasted. The resulting lost revenues could mean lower profit margins or missed profit or revenue estimates. Ultimately, shareholders who are angry at losing money may call for the CEO to resign or simply sell off their stakes entirely.
Failing to package food in a safe manner consistent with existing regulations may be disastrous for a company. Therefore, be sure to have quality leak detection equipment on hand to prevent these situations from occurring. It may also be best to have humans check goods before they are shipped to ensure that they don’t pose a risk to anyone.
It is paramount that you have good packaging for your food. The package performs a critical role or preserving the quality of the food before it reaches the customer. Therefore, it is important that firms acquire the latest leak detection equipment to ensure the integrity of their packaging. There are different methods of detecting leaks.
1. Trace Gas Method
The trace gas method is a simple method to determine if a package is leaking. You will perform it in an airtight chamber. It is critical to avoid contamination of the trace gas which will indicate the presence of the leak. A gas sensor in the chamber will indicate the concentration of the trace gas in the chamber. If the packaging is faulty, there will be an increase in its concentration in the chamber. The method is useful for detecting micro-leakages.
2. Altitude Simulation Method
When you design packages for your food, you should be aware that users can carry them on planes. It is critical that the seals can withstand the pressure changes that come with high altitudes. There is a high possibility of the seals failing during taking off and when the plane is landing. It is because during this times the altitude changes rapidly. You can carry out the test in a wet or dry chamber depending on the contents. After that, you will use a vacuum versus altitude to determine the ability to withstand the changes in altitude.
3. Dry Chamber Testing
When you have a liquid product, you will place it in a package that has a little head space. The head space refers to the space in the container that the liquid does not occupy which is filled with air. You will place the package in a dry chamber and then place the chamber on a material that is absorbent. A common absorbent is a paper towel. After that, you will draw a vacuum. The amount of vacuum that you draw will depend on the specifications set by the operator. In case the packaging is faulty, the absorbent will get wet when you draw the vacuum. You can use this test even for packages that have no head space.
4. Bubble Emission Method
The bubble emission method is useful for testing packages that have some volume of air. It involves placing the package in an airtight chamber while completely submerged in water. After that, you will draw a vacuum in the chamber. If the seals in the package are compromised, you will see the emission of bubbles in the water. An advantage of the method is that you will be able to pinpoint the area that is leaking.
Many people are always reluctant about changing or inspecting the food packaging material they use when they are off to the grocery. While this is true, food packaging materials should be checked for leaks to ensure you don’t run into havoc.
However, consumers must rely on the lead detection equipment to detect any form of leaks in their food packaging equipment. You should also know that the leak detection method used by the manufacturers is not always 100 percent correct. Food poisoning, in some cases, emanates from leaks in the food packages because it can come into microorganisms that contaminate the food. The consumer must always be aware of the equipment and method that can be used to detect leaks in food packaging material to solve this problem.
Let us look at the following methods used to test leaks.
Food companies can suffer massive losses when their products are rejected because they are not sealed correctly. Leaks in the packaging expose food to air, which can compromise its quality or shorten the period to expiry. It is essential for companies to invest in leak detection equipment that will help identify these leaks and prevent rejection of products in supermarkets and grocery stores.
Technological advancements in the food production industry have improved and simplified the processes of leak detection in packaging. This has, in turn, reduced the losses incurred by firms as a result of rejected products. Here are some of the improvements that have resulted from the adoption of technology in leak detection.
1. Miniaturization and Network Integration
Gone are the days when leak detection equipment and sensors were big and bulky. Technology has led to the introduction of small automated leak detectors and sensors that can be integrated into packaging and plumbing systems. Additionally, detectors are now wireless. This means that you can incorporate them into both the packaging system and a network and have great results. Automation has made it easy for companies to monitor the functioning of leak detectors through computer devices, and this has led to a significant increase inefficiency and accuracy in leak detection.
2. Process Automation
Before the introduction of technology in leak detection, the process used to be extremely labor intensive, and companies required a lot of resources in order to detect and prevent leakages. Workers had to inspect all the packages by hand before preparing them for shipping. Not only was this time-consuming, but it was also inaccurate and inefficient. Leak detection equipment has automated the processes, which has eliminated the need for extensive labor involvement. The use of automated sensors increases speed and accuracy in the process. Besides reducing losses, these improvements have also cut down costs for packaging companies and led to improved efficiency in their operations.
3. Timeliness in Leak Detection
Traditional leak detection equipment could only detect gross leaks in packaging after containers had already been packaged, warehoused, and shipped to the retail stores. Such mishaps often led to substantial losses for food companies. However, today’s systems can provide early warning signs before the products get to the consumer. Processes such as online leak testing for bottles and containers protect the process from random issues that cannot be identified through sampling. Also, the equipment not only detects leaks, but they can also isolate the likely points of origin-whether it’s due to malfunctions in certain stages of the process or the quality of the packaging. This way, it is possible to prevent any amounts of leaks at the right time.
4. Instant Notifications Help Protect Business Reputation
Obtaining real-time results in leak detection is essential in promoting efficiency and reducing losses in the food packaging industry. If the company doesn’t instantly identify the leaks as they occur, then it may have to recall the products once they have been shipped to the consumer. This can hurt the company’s reputation, lead to losses due to rejection, and increase the chances of facing liability lawsuits. Since today’s leak detection equipment allows real-time detection of leaks, they ensure that these issues are handled within the warehouse before the products are dispatched into the market.
Technology has streamlined the process of leak detection by introducing advanced equipment and automated processes. Further innovations in the industry are bound to bring about more sophisticated systems that will improve the detection of leaks in food packaging. These will save companies a significant amount of money that is always lost directly or indirectly due to the way in which the products are received in the market.