Leak detection system serves up quality solution for tortilla bakery

ISHIDA has announced that the installation of an AirScan leak detection system at Sinnack Snacks, a German bakery specialising in tortillas, has enabled the company to automate its end-of-line packing process while ensuring quality control procedures are able to keep pace with increased throughput.

The solution is said to be capable of inspecting as many as 2,500 packs per hour, detecting leaks as small as 0.5mm.

Sinnack Snacks produces wheat, multigrain and protein tortillas in diameters of 20, 25 and 30cm, which are sold in packs of six, eight and 12. The fresh products are made without preservatives but have a shelf-life of six months thanks to protective carbon dioxide and nitrogen atmospheres – provided the thermoformed packaging is absolutely airtight.

Ishida explained that bits of the tortillas can sometimes get into the seals during the packing process and cause leaks. Other potential sources of defects include wrinkles in the seal. The stage of the process that comes after the films are changed on the thermoforming machinery is also critical. If the films overlap at this point, the packaging may not be sealed correctly.

For these reasons, Sinnack Snacks has always made sure to test the integrity of its protective atmospheres. The company previously used a system with a vacuum chamber to check the entire content of fully packed boxes for leaks.

“This was a very time-consuming quality control exercise, because when a reject was found, we didn’t know first which of the packs was the one with the leak,” said managing partner Jana Sinnack. “Not only that, but quality control was also not 100% reliable.”

With growing sales, Sinnack Snacks needed to automate the end-of-line packing on one of its lines and this required a new means of leak testing. “We were looking for an in-line system that was capable of checking every single pack at high speed and picking out any rejects,” explained Jana.

The Ishida solution is the company’s fully automated AirScan, which uses a laser module to detect the specific vibrations caused by leaking carbon dioxide molecules. The AirScan is compact in size and can be integrated into existing packing lines. The system checks both the top and bottom sides for escaping carbon dioxide.

The success of the first machine has led Sinnack Snacks to install Ishida AirScan systems on two further lines as part of its ongoing automation process. Ishida customised the machines to suit the company’s requirements in terms of pack dimensions and its reject system.