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.