Despite its popularity, glass packaging poses a significant safety risk as the effects of glass-in-glass contamination can potentially be highly...
Despite its popularity, glass packaging poses a significant safety risk as the effects of glass-in-glass contamination can potentially be highly damaging to the health of the consumer. Manufacturing processes and procedures constantly strive to eliminate contamination but are not fail-safe. For example, there is an inherent risk of contamination during the production process such as breakages of glass jars and bottles on the production line due to conveyor vibrations or back pressure. Plus, this risk is intensified on high-speed bottling lines. During the filling process, misaligned filling heads can strike the top of containers or closures can be over-tightened.
Glass containers are, notoriously, one of the most challenging types of packaging to inspect because the primary contaminant is glass, the same material and density as the packaging. In addition, the base, sidewalls and neck of glass jars can cause ‘blind spots’ – obscuration of the visual field, meaning key parts of the product or packaging have the potential to mask contaminants. Below is an overview of the different x-ray technologies available and their benefits:
Single Angled X-ray
A single angled x-ray beam passes down the glass container through the base area to inspect for contaminants while simultaneously examining the upper part of the container. This type of inspection ‘opens’ the base and lower body of the glass jar, which results in the base (or ‘crown’) appearing flat. Traditional blind spots are thereby removed, greatly increasing base detection sensitivity. Overall, this type of glass container x-ray technology provides good detection capabilities in the body of the jar.
Split Beam X-ray
A single x-ray generator creates two beams, angled away from one another, and strikes two separate detectors thereby imaging each glass container twice. Different viewing angles increase the coverage inside the glass jar and the probability of detection. Contaminants located close to the sidewall on one image now appear closer to the centre of the glass jar or container on the second image making them easier to detect. This x-ray beam technology improves the probability of detecting contaminants in glass containers or jars with a raised base as its overcomes typical blind spots.
Combination Beam X-ray
A combination beam x-ray system featuring one vertical and three horizontal beams significantly increases the overall inspection coverage in glass containers. Food and pharmaceutical manufacturers can optimise detection capabilities in the most challenging areas such as the base, sidewalls and neck of glass containers and reduce blind spots. Combination beam technology, compared to single- and split beam x-ray, improves the probability of detecting and removing contaminated product from the manufacturing line.
Angled Beam X-ray – All-round glass-in-glass inspection
360° glass-in-glass inspection is made possible by a single perpendicular beam scanning the base of the container while simultaneously inspecting the product through the side of the jars. The effect is that the bottom of the jar now appears flat to the x-ray beam and traditional blind spots are removed thereby fully optimising detection sensitivity. Angled beam technology also provides full-height and fill-level checking irrespective of production line speeds. This technology is ideal for food and pharmaceutical manufacturers requiring a complete 360° high precision detection solution.
Where is the Best Location on the Production Line?
Glass container x-ray inspection systems are typically installed at the end of the production line after the product is added into the glass container. As the production process is finished and the containers and jars are sealed no further contaminants can enter. Positioning the x-ray technology here safeguards the manufacturer’s reputation as, if needed in the event of a product recall, they can provide documented evidence that they have reached the highest levels of product safety and quality control.
Depending upon the nature of the product before the packaging stage, x-ray inspection systems can also be integrated at the raw material stage and during the production process. There are many benefits about the specific location of x-ray technology which is available here.
Why is Regulatory Compliance Important?
Regulatory compliance is necessary for manufacturers and retailers to export their glass packaged products into different markets throughout the globe. Installing an x-ray system for glass container inspection helps food manufacturers comply with the following Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) based Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) recognised standards:
- International Featured Standard (IFS)
- The British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) Global Standard for Food Safety
- Safe Quality Food (SQF) 2000 Code
- Food Safety System Certification (FSSC) 22000
- US Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)
For pharmaceutical manufacturers, Safeline’s glass container x-ray technology can facilitate compliance with:
- Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD) coming into force in the UK in 2019
- US Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA)
- US Federal Drug Administration (FDA)
- European Commission Eudralex V30