Five ways to mitigate common sealing issues

One of WNA’s customer success managers, Brian Jones, explains the importance of seal integrity for food and beverage products and highlights key areas manufacturers should focus on to ensure high-quality sealing.

Every food manufacturer strives to achieve the perfect sealing for food packaging. Seal integrity is essential to prevent air, moisture and other external factors from contaminating food products during both the packaging and distribution processes. Conversely, contamination due to faulty seals can lead to significant losses and even damage a company’s reputation.

Brian Jones, a customer success manager at WNA, explains that having a high-quality, reliable sealing machine is critical for food manufacturers. It ensures efficient package closure while maintaining the freshness and safety of food products. However, Jones points out that sealing issues can happen and stem from various factors. He outlines five ways to mitigate these issues and enhance food production quality.

1. Ensure clean filling

Even modern filling and sealing machines can suffer from poor seal quality if there is contamination in the seal area. Contaminates are most often found in the seal area when the dosing system is either poorly designed for the product or not properly maintained. A well-designed dosing system prevents “tailing”, where the product hangs from the dosing system and is dragged into the seal area of cups and pouches. Regular cleaning and maintenance are essential to accurate system functioning, allowing the placement of the product in the package without interfering with the seal.

Automated systems offer lower contamination risks than manual systems by minimizing human inconsistencies. Consistent speeds, acceleration, and deceleration prevent product splashing into the seal area. In either case, machine operators must be trained by the OEM in proper maintenance and care for the dosing system.

2. Consider packaging and product requirements

Sealing performance is greatly influenced by the packaging material's properties. The choice of material for the lid and cup will determine the ideal heat and pressure settings, and even pressure distribution is required for a robust seal. Smart, flexible systems can easily accommodate varying temperature, pressure and dwell time requirements.

“Food manufacturers sometimes underestimate the importance of understanding the sealing specifications for their packaging type, and this oversight can pose significant challenges,” Jones explained. “It is crucial not to take risks with seal performance. Invest in reliable, easily adjustable sealing solutions that can adapt to your packaging requirements. It will pay off.”

3. Conduct regular preventative maintenance

Consistent preventative maintenance (PM) schedules are pivotal for avoiding sealing issues. They ensure that cup handling, product filling and lid placements operate properly. In addition, routine checks and maintenance allow for early identification of wear and tear, enabling timely part replacement before failure occurs. Regular cleaning prevents debris and residue buildup, which can also affect seal integrity.

“Programs that emphasize preventative maintenance, like Waldner Care, ensure that your highly efficient packaging equipment functions at the high level of OEE they were designed for. In addition, maintenance services help food manufacturers comply with safety standards and adhere to food safety regulations,” Jones said.

4. Harness the power of innovative technologies

Automated systems boast high precision levels throughout the production line and increase workflow efficiency, which ultimately helps mitigate sealing defects. They also continuously monitor the sealing process for anomalies, like temperature fluctuations or pressure variations.

To enhance the capabilities of automated systems, manufacturers have been implementing self-monitoring technologies like ultrasonic sealing systems, which utilize acoustic vibrations to weld two materials together while increasing sealing precision and efficiency. Another option, Jones points out, is the adoption of smart inspection technologies that capture defects immediately and suggest actions.

5. Select smart post-sealing handling

After the sealing process is complete, packages may remain vulnerable to damage during transportation to downstream equipment such as retort chambers, secondary packaging equipment or storage facilities. Efficient automated solutions ensure proper handling while avoiding punctures, tears and other damage to packages that can compromise the product. These systems also facilitate swift package relocation, reducing the risk of spoilage.

“We have seen cases where package integrity issues resulted from aggressive pick-and-place operations, occurring at the final stage of the food packaging process. Therefore, it's imperative that manufacturers assess their current systems’ compatibility within the production line, ensuring that operations are running smoothly and they're accommodating packaging material modifications or equipment changes,” Jones concluded.


For more information, please contact:

Ibrahim Elandaloussi
Waldner North America
Mariana Santos
SE10 Public Relations Support
(312) 623-4545

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