For manufacturers, sending products into the retail supply chain that do not meet the required standards in terms of content and package quality can have very negative connotations. Losing consumer confidence, damage to brand reputation and product recalls all lead to financial losses. It is no longer enough to carry out random, manual quality checks, the only way to safeguard against substandard products going undetected is to inspect 100 percent of your production output.
In order to achieve this, advanced product inspection equipment can be installed to operate in-line at normal production speeds, without affecting production efficiency. This has valuable uptime advantages, as lines are able to operate freely without the need to halt the process to carry out quality checks.
There are many options available, and which manufacturers choose to employ will depend on the application and what they are producing. X-ray, checkweighing and vision inspection systems can be used individually or in combination, and bring several key benefits to manufacturers in terms of quality assurance by checking that all product quality criteria have been met.
Ensuring content quality
Contents are critical to monitor, as missing or broken components in a package are highly undesirable. In addition, incorrect fill levels can lead to breaches of compliance if under-filled and unnecessary product giveaway if over-filled leads to profit loss.
X-ray systems available on the market today are capable of monitoring and identifying missing or broken products, as well as accurately check fill levels within manufacturer-set parameters. They can also be used for mass measurement. There are a number of quality inspection solutions available and new tools are always developed together with customers to suit their individual requirements and applications. Checkweighers are also routinely used to check for missing components within packs, mainly according to weights and measures authorities, and, like vision systems, have the ability to monitor fill levels. Checkweighers can also automatically adjust fill heads, for example, at full production speeds. This ability enables manufacturers to run lines uninterrupted, leaving the job of detection and rejection entirely to the inspection equipment.
Ensuring packaging quality
Ensuring the quality of packaging is also vital as damaged items can lead to the dissatisfaction of retail customers and consumers alike. X-ray systems can be used to check seal integrity in the food industry, ensuring the freshness of products, while advanced checkweighers can check for open flaps on individual packs in the pharma industry. Vision and x-ray inspection systems can also be used to check for open flap detection, to prevent product spillages. These systems can also be employed to check for deformed packaging.
With serialization and track and trace regulations becoming more prominent in many manufacturing areas, accurate coding and labelling information must be provided, often at pack level. It is imperative that products with incorrect or missing information be removed from the supply chain before reaching retailers and consumers, for safety and regulatory compliance. Vision systems are able to inspect labels for proper ID, correctness and overall presentation, which is paramount, as ensuring barcodes are readable provides assurances that poorly packaged products will never reach retail shelves.
Tailoring your product inspection solution
Working directly with product inspection experts will ensure the best possible solution can be selected for individual operations. Systems can be selected by individual technology or combination – effectively enabling manufacturers to have a tailored product inspection solution. The important element is to fully understand needs and requirements before making a final decision so that maximum value can be extracted from any investment made.