Long lasting products that look attractive with high hygiene and quality standards
Consumers want fresh, hygienically packaged food while retailers want long-lasting products that look attractive. Positioned at the start of the supply chain, food manufacturers must provide solutions that meet all hygiene and quality standards. Meeting these demands while at the same time boosting productivity calls for end-to-end process monitoring automation.
First came GEA’s tried-and-trusted OxyCheck quality control system, whose contactless, non-invasive oxygen content measuring system has been verifying every MAP since 2017. Based on that system, the GEA LeakCheck now uses an in-line process on the GEA thermoformer to test the seal and package integrity on each individual package.
The test procedure comprises three steps
First step: the residual oxygen content in each package is measured with a fluorescent sensor spot printed on the inside of the top film. Optical sensors mounted on the thermoformer project light onto the sensor spot, gauging the wavelength of the light emitted by the dye to accurately determine the oxygen content. This step alone significantly reduces the risk of defective packaging with excessively high residual oxygen levels.
Next step: packages are subjected to overpressure and underpressure in a stress unit before a second contactless measurement is taken.
Third step: if the new result differs from the first, the package seal is broken. Using the GEA CombiPick, for instance, the leaky package is automatically detected and accurately removed on exiting the packaging machine. This method ensures that even the smallest leaks are detected.
Residual oxygen content and seal integrity for food safety
In order to boost food processing productivity, the industry is increasingly focusing on automation. The aim is to achieve a consistent or even enhanced product quality. Thanks to GEA LeakCheck, the two key factors for ensuring food safety – residual oxygen content and seal integrity – can now be continuously recorded and monitored on an end-to-end basis. Process errors are rapidly detected and the delivery of faulty packaging is virtually zero.
In summary, Volker Sassmannshausen, Senior Product Manager Thermoforming Packaging Systems at GEA, again makes it emphatically clear that “with the GEA LeakCheck, all units leaving the packaging machine are tested non-invasively. Since the measuring techniques are non-invasive, neither the packaging material nor the contents are wasted. Besides efficiency and sustainability, the upshot is that practically no defective packaging reaches the market.” Both systems are offered as optional extras with GEA’s PowerPak or PowerPak PLUS thermoformers.