Quality inspections on packaging lines

Author: E2M Couth
May 13, 2024

Packaging is a fundamental process in any industry since it is responsible for guaranteeing the safety and quality of products before they reach the consumer. In this regard, quality inspections on packaging lines also playa relevant role, because they identify all kinds of defects or problems with the product, so they meet all quality standards. Throughout this post we have prepared at E2M COUTH, we will discuss everything related to this kind of inspection.

Quality inspection systems on packaging lines play a crucial role by ensuring that all products coming down the production line meet necessary quality standards. These inspections are fundamental to preserve the quality and safety of all products on the packaging line.

What are quality inspections on packaging lines?

When discussing quality inspections on packaging lines, we mean systematic processes in charge of verifying and controlling quality during different stages of the packaging process. The objective of these inspections is to identify and correct any problem or anomaly that could affect the quality or safety of the end product.

A key point in any industry is ensuring quality during each stage of the packaging process, from the moment of selecting and preparing the packing material to filling, sealing, and labelling the product. During this process, it is important that each step be thoroughly controlled and monitored to guarantee that the product meets all quality standards.

When we talk about inspection on production lines, we are also talking about production efficiency. By identifying and correcting errors and defects in products, you can reduce wasted materials and resources, thereby improving all manufacturing products and reducing all operative costs.

Types of inspections on packaging lines

Now that you know what this inspection process consists of, let’s discuss the kinds of inspections on packaging lines that can find at any industrial plant. They include:

Visual inspection

Let’s begin with the first kind of quality inspection on packaging lines, visual inspection, which means manual and automated revision of packaged products to detect all errors visible to the naked eye. This kind of inspection is fundamental to identify problems that may occur on a production line, such as improperly placed labels, packaging with deformities, or contamination in the product that is visible.

Some examples of problems that can be detected by visual inspection include misaligned labels, broken or dented containers, the presence of visible foreign bodies, and other defects in the product’s appearance.

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Some of the advantages of this visual inspection include simplicity and versatility, as well as the ability to detect a wide variety of defects. That being said, the main limitation on this sort of quality control and inspection is subjectivity and visual fatigue, which can lead to errors or missteps if done manually over long periods of time.

X-ray inspection

Let’s continue with another kind of quality inspection on packaging lines. Now we are talking about X-ray inspection. This kind of inspection means using ionising radiation to detect any defect or contaminating element inside the packaged products. The X-rays penetrate the packaging material and identify all foreign materials or elements, such as metals, hard plastics, or bones inside the product.

This kind of technology is highly useful to detect metal contaminating elements, pieces of glass, and other hard materials that could pose a food safety hazard for this kind of production line.

The main advantage offered by X-ray inspection is its ability to detect contaminating elements or other internal defects that would not be visible from the outside. However, it is important to take safety considerations into account, mainly because of the ionising radiation. It is essential to comply with established safety regulations and procedures.

Inspection by weight

Moving on to another kind of inspection on packaging lines, this is in charge of evaluating the weight of the packaged products. This guarantees that they comply with quality standards in terms of the product fill that the company has established. It is important to use this kind of inspection to always maintain maximum precision in filling containers and to avoid over or underfilling containers.

The technology used for this kind of inspection by weight can include load cell systems or dynamic scales integrated into the production line. These associated procedures generally imply regularly calibrating the equipment, as well as configuring the acceptable weight.

Artificial vision inspection

Lastly, we will conclude kinds of inspection on packaging lines with artificial vision. This means using cameras and image processing algorithms to detect defects or variations in packaged products. The technology used in these cases is in charge of identifying defects or variations in packaged products. Some of the flaws and errors these systems can detect are missing labels, defective printing, and deformities in the packaging.

On the other hand, the advantages brought by this kind of artificial vision inspection are speed and precision. It can also be easily integrated onto existing packaging lines, which will improve efficiency and quality in the production process. We have excellent quality systems that work with artificial vision, like EBIVisión, which stands out with its ability to quickly inspect empty bottles coming down the production line.

What is automated inspection?

When we refer to automated inspection, we mean the process that seeks to verify the quality and integrity of packaged products, using automated systems and technologies, instead of having to do it manually. This kind of automatic inspection system is essential to guarantee the quality of the end product and efficiency for the entire production process.

Automated inspection versus manual inspection

On a production line with manual inspection, operators are people who visually review the packaged products to detect all kinds of defects and anomalies. Although this focus can be effective in some cases, it has certain limitations in terms of eye fatigue, speed of thought, etc. Automated inspection uses artificial vision systems, sensors, and other elements to conduct a fast, precise, and consistent inspection.

The advantages of automated inspection

There are several advantages to automated inspection as opposed to manual inspection. You definitely want to learn about them. The first thing we might highlight is that automated systems can conduct inspections at a speed much higher than human operators, which in turn increases efficiency on the packaging line.

Moreover, automated systems detect defects with high precision and consistency, reducing the likelihood of human error and also improving the quality of the end product. It can also operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with no need for rest. One example is the control system, which ensures that all containers are properly closed when they leave the production line, keeping their quality intact until reaching the user.

Systems and equipment for container quality control and inspection

Of all the different technologies in the packaging inspection process, these are the most important:

  • Artificial vision systems: This technology uses cameras and image processing algorithms to visually inspect packaged products in search of defects or anomalies. They can detect many issues, from improperly placed labels to errors in packing.
  • X-ray devices: X-ray packing inspection devices are used to identify and detect metal contaminants, hard plastics, and other foreign materials inside the packaged products. They work by emitting ionising radiation which penetrates the packaging material, thereby generating images that can be analysed to detect possible contaminating elements.
  • Inspection systems by weight: Lastly, another device that takes part in quality inspection weigh the products to see if they are over or underweight, especially when product fill is required.

Factors to consider when choosing quality control and inspection devices

When choosing devices for quality control and inspection, you must consider the following factors:

  • Precision and sensitivity: The devices need to be able to detect the smallest defects to guarantee the end product’s quality.
  • Inspection speed: They must also be able to operate at the same speed as the packaging line to keep from affecting the process’ efficiency.
  • Easy to integrate: Additionally, you should be able to integrate them onto the packaging line easily without interrupting production.
  • Reliability and maintenance: Each device or system used on the production line must be reliable and require minimum maintenance to avoid unplanned stops in activity.

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The benefits of quality inspections on packaging lines

The benefits of implementing quality inspections on packaging lines are very diverse. They have a significant impact on the quality of the end product and the efficiency of the production process. Here are the main benefits they provide:

  • Improved end product quality: This kind of inspection guarantees that all packaged products meet established quality standards. By identifying and correcting these defects during the packing process, you can desiccate the product or correct it before it reaches the consumer.
  • Reduced waste and repeat work: By detecting and correcting quality issues on the production line, you can reduce waste and re-working. This can reduce costs associated with the production of defective products, as well as optimise the use of resources like packing materials or labour.
  • Regulatory compliance: Quality inspections on packaging lines help to guarantee compliance with regulations and food safety standards established by regulatory authorities. This point is essential to protect the health and safety of consumers, which maintains the company’s reputation and integrity.
  • Increased customer satisfaction: By having quality, consistent products with the quality inspection process, you contribute to customer satisfaction, which also strengthens your brand’s reputation. Consumers usually trust brands that offer quality products and are more willing to recommend them to other people, which can lead to greater loyalty long-term.

Find the best artificial vision quality inspection systems at E2M COUTH

Quality inspection on a packaging line is one of the most important processes in any industry. As we explained, this is the time to inspect each product leaving the plant to confirm that it has the required quality to reach consumers.

At E2M COUTH, we have a wide variety of artificial vision inspection systems. They guarantee the highest level of quality for each product that comes off your production line. Additionally, if you need to find out more or have any questions about our inspection systems, please contact us. We would be delighted to help you.

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