Material testing specialist RDM Test Equipment is distributing two heat sealing inspection systems developed by Belgian firm Engilico across the UK and Ireland.
The two systems are the result of five years of research and development (R&D) at the University of Leuven in Belgium. First launched last year in Belgium and Holland, they are now on sale across wider Europe.
Phil Neal, sales director at RDM Test Equipment, said the two systems will revolutionize quality assurance in the snacks sector.
“Heat sealing is a much bigger issue than anyone will ever let on – without question there are problems. It’s a key concern for quality control,” Neal told BakeryandSnacks.com.
“There is pressure coming from retailers, with products returned every day due to seal leaks. Retailers are also introducing more and more penalties to companies.”
A shift from quality control to assurance…
“At the moment, what companies are doing is sampling from the production line to check for leaks in seals,” Neal said.
However, he said the two integrated systems are completely different as they analyze the seal immediately after it has formed to check for any abnormalities.
“The advantage it will bring is that companies will be able to monitor the quality of heat seals coming through the production line and this will save money and energy. It should also reduce wastage.”
“It comes down to manufacturers being able to manage the quality of heat seals more tightly.”
Integrated seal inspection
The two systems ensure the same quality assurance but using different techniques.
SealCam is an infra-red camera-based system that analyzes residual heat from the seal immediately after it has been formed and then profiles this against what it should be.
SealScope analyzes the vibrations made on a seal bar during the sealing process to identify any abnormalities.
Both systems can be integrated easily into one-type packaging systems and are capable of inspecting up to 150 seals per minute.
“The set-up is extremely simple; when it is first installed you have to run 30 good seals through it. The system then profiles these and learns what a good seal looks like,” Neal said.
He said that as the system continues to run it improves its detection capabilities.
Seals that are within specification pass through, but those identified as abnormal will be ejected from the production line.
The system uses collected data to highlight trends that can provide early indications of any machinery malfunctions, Neal added.