The Leak-Master from WITT requires just a small space and a mains power connection to monitor an entire packaging line directly on the spot.
The technology can monitor goods in an entirely non-destructive manner, regardless of whether they are in flexible or rigid packaging. The developer claims that unlike other monitoring systems, Leak-Master does not require expensive testing gas such as helium.
Operation, says WITT, is simple. Packaging manufacturers place the product in the measuring chamber, close the transparent cover and start measurement at the operating panel. The result appears in an easy to read display after a short response time.
The Leak-master provides manufacturers with a great deal of flexibility. Parameters such as, for example, vacuum level, leak limits and test time can be pre-defined and saved in the memory. The unit can remember up to a hundred products and twenty users - more than enough for occasional random samples in a small operation or constant use in a large company.
Trained personnel are not required to operate the software. This, says WITT, makes the high-tech monitoring device from WITT interesting to companies with frequent product changes and a number of different operators.
The new model is significantly more compact in comparison with the previous version. The measuring chamber and operating unit now form one robust unit, the housing of which is manufactured almost entirely of stainless steel. This is an advantage not only as far as the space required is concerned but also prevents damage.
The company claims that cleaning the smooth surface is also very quick. In addition to an LCD-screen, the Leak-Master has push-buttons which are grouped into logical units and can be operated intuitively. These can be used to call up the respective most recent measurements.
Another key point about the Leak-master is that it can be integrated to export data via Ethernet into a company's network. In this way the results of the measurements can be fed directly into a quality management system or printed out in black and white. No manual reporting of the quality measurement is necessary.
Controlled atmosphere in the packaging improves the length of life and visual appearance of many products. Final monitoring of the packaging is vital however, as production rejects and recall campaigns are expensive. WITT claims that the cost of the Leak-Master is a fraction of the cost of allowing faulty product batches to get through.
The firm is confident that the concept will provide popular with atmosphere packaging companies, a burgeoning sector of the packaging industry. According to a recent Business Communications Company report, controlled packaging in the US - which includes aseptic and retort packages, modified air packaging (MAP) and biodegradable packaging - achieved annual sales of $13 billion last year, or approximately 17 per cent of the entire US food packaging industry.
MAP/CAP packaging is the fastest growing sector with an AAGR of 13.6 per cent over the next five years.
The reason for this, claims BCC, is simple. Flexible packaging is 75 per cent to 90 per cent lighter than rigid packaging, easier to compact, and take less room in landfills. Aseptic juice boxes for example make up approximately 9 per cent of the juice market but comprise only 3 per cent of the waste.
Business Communications Company's report on the US market for active, controlled and intelligent packaging for foods and beverages shows that new products and technologies are challenging the position of traditional forms of food and beverage packaging. The study estimates that the US sector is currently worth over $38 billion, and is poised to increase at an AAGR of 9.7 per cent between 2003 and 2008.
The rest of the world, which has often been ahead of the US in researching and developing new active, controlled and intelligent packaging systems, continues to lead with a forecasted 11.3 per cent AAGR until 2008.