Online Gas Analyzers for Gas Packaging Machines
Online Gas Analyzers for Gas Packaging Machines
On-line gas analyzers: moving from quality control to quality assurance for MAP
In MAP, quality assurance is key. Producers must be confident that their modified atmosphere packaging equipment is working correctly and that their gas mixing system is delivering the correct protective atmosphere to ensure the prolonged shelf-life of food or other products such as beverages or pharmaceuticals. Control of the gas flushing process is therefore vital.
In the past, to ensure the correct gas mixture was present in a MAP product, the operator would need to select samples off the packaging line at random and carry out a headspace analysis of the gas within the package. This however is a destructive test, meaning that samples would need to be repackaged; and it is time-consuming and labour-intensive. Also, if headspace gas measurements show that the mixture is not as it should be, then further packages need to be tested downstream as these too may not have the correct mixture.
While this procedure remains important for quality control purposes, Dansensor’s range of gas analyzers allow constant monitoring of the gas mixture on the packaging line. Use of on-line gas analyzers permits a move away from time-consuming quality control towards constant quality assurance for MAP through close control of the gas flushing process.
Previously, operators would simply have to trust that their gas blenders were providing the correct mixture, or that the pre-mixed gases provided by the supplier were of the correct quality and composition. And often, to reduce the risk of unwanted oxygen entering the package, operators would use excess modified atmosphere gas just to be on the safe side. This is not only potentially wasteful – more gas equals greater cost – it can also make for a less-than-ideal working environment for the operators.
Now, however, 100 per cent process control of modified atmosphere products is possible through on-line gas analyzers. Manufacturers are now able to ensure that the shelf-life of food meets specifications, and at the same time reduce the risk of costly and time-consuming repackaging of products. High Precision constant monitoring of the incoming gas with gas analyzers also means that it is not necessary to use excess packaging gas – which can result in significant cost savings on vertical and horizontal flow packaging machines where Dansensor’s gas analyzers have optional flow control.
Dansensor’s on-line gas analyzers deliver the perfect solution
MOCON Europe (Dansensor) offers a range of gas analyzers for on-line process control of MAP products and control of the gas flushing process.
Different gas analyzers are available, tailored to the particular needs. The analyzer concept is essentially the same for all cases. A stream of the packaging gas is continuously withdrawn from the MAP line and is passed through a filter and into the gas analyzer, which constantly measures oxygen or oxygen/CO2 levels in the mixture. The highly accurate oxygen sensors in the gas analyzers are zirconium based.
MOCON Europe (Dansensor) provides a range of on-line gas analyzers for control of the gas flushing process depending on the type of modified atmosphere packaging line. For horizontal or vertical flow wrap systems, the packaging gas is withdrawn through a hose attached to a pump. Where the packaging gas is introduced via vacuum, as for thermoforming and tray sealing machines, the gas sampling system is appropriately modified so that MAP gas is also drawn into the gas analyzer at the same time as it is introduced to the packaging itself. We also have an on-line analyzer for situations where gas mixture is under pressure. By using these gas analyzers, quality assurance for MAP is therefore guaranteed for all circumstances and all types of MAP line.
The gas analyzer is programmed depending on the product, with threshold levels of the gases pre-defined by the operator. If the concentration of oxygen within the modified protective atmosphere rises above the threshold level, for example, the gas analyzer sounds an alarm, alerting the operator. An alternative option is to have the gas analyzer fitted with two alarms. One ‘warning’ will alert the operator that the threshold level is being approached. This gives the operator the ability to make any necessary adjustments to the gas mixing system to bring levels into the desirable range without having to stop the MAP packaging line: a useful time- and cost-saving option.
As an additional feature, it is possible to couple Dansensor’s MAP Check 3 family of on-line gas analyzers with Dansensor’s Map Mix Provectus gas blender to provide a feedback control system: the gas analyzer will ‘tell’ the mixer that the desired oxygen level is not correct, and the gas flow from the Provectus gas mixer will be automatically be adjusted.
On-line gas analyzers – summary:
Dansensor’s on-line gas analyzers for packaging machines provide
- quality assurance for MAP
- control of the gas flushing process
- time savings as the operator moves away from random quality control headspace measurement to quality assurance through constant on-line measurement of the gas mixture
- cost savings through using much more precise gas mixtures and avoiding excess use of gas
- user-friendly touch-screen interface on MAP Check 3 range and excellent data-logging for traceability
For further information on MOCON Europe's (Dansensor’s) range of state-of-the-art on-line gas analyzers for quality assurance for MAP and control of the gas flushing process, click the relevant product in the menu bar on the left. To contact Dansensor about any of our gas analyzers, click the ‘Contact’ button on the menu bar at the top of the page.
We can help ensure that you have a first-rate gas analyzer on your production line!