On-line Gas Analyser Increases Process Control and Traceability
Bye-bye manual testing: Replaced by new on-line gas analyser
KødGrossisten is a meat processing company based in the town of Vemmelev in Denmark. The company produces a range of high quality raw cuts and processed products. The Vemmelev plant has a modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) line for producing beefburgers and minced beef in thermosealed trays. Around 25 tonnes of product comes off the line each week.
Moving from manual to on-line testing
A modified atmosphere of carbon dioxide (20%) and oxygen (80%) ensures a prolonged shelf life for the products, while maintaining their attractive appearance. The gases are drawn into the packaging chamber under negative pressure.
Quality assurance is a vital part of KødGrossisten’s operation and ensuring that the correct gas mixture enters each tray is paramount. Until recently the company relied on random testing of packages five times each day using a Dansensor CheckMate 3 headspace analyser.
When the time came for KødGrossisten to replace the existing headspace anlayser, the company contacted Dansensor. “We carried out a MAP audit for the company and we could demonstrate that if they installed an on-line headspace analyser this would pay for itself in a relatively short time from savings in packaging materials that are discarded during the manual testing process, and the reduced labour costs associated with manual testing,” recalls Dansensor’s Area Sales Manager Tony Krogshave Johansen.
Development of a new product
At the time Dansensor was in the process of upgrading its existing on-line vacuum analyser and given that both companies are located close to each other, this represented an ideal opportunity for Dansensor to develop and test the new technology on KødGrossisten’s MAP line.
“When Dansensor told us they were developing a brand new on-line gas analyser, we agreed that they could use our packaging machine for testing the new instrument,” says KødGrossisten’s Anette Frølund, who is responsible for quality assurance on the MAP line.
This resulted in a highly fruitful partner-ship, with Dansensor’s technical experts given free access to the packaging machine to develop what has become a state-of-the-art on-line analyser for this type of negative-pressure gas delivery system, the MAP Check 3 Vacuum.
Efficient and accurate system
The MAP Check 3 Vacuum has now been installed on the KødGrossisten MAP line and has been operating for a number of months. The instrument constantly measures the gas mixture throughout each packaging cycle and stops the packaging machine if pre-set limits are exceeded. All data is automatically logged and can be simply downloaded and stored.
With the previous system, people working on the line had to remember to carry out the testing five times each day,” says Ms Frølund. “Now they do not have to do anything unless the machine stops – which so far it has not.”
The manual testing regime resulted in around 1,500 packages being discarded each year. This waste is now avoided, and these days any reduction in waste is to be welcomed, both economically and environmentally. The on-line system also saves many labour hours each year which were previously needed for the manual testing system. “But for me the main advantage is the security of the system,” Ms Frølund says. “We do not need to rely on people to remember to do the testing, and it is a much more accurate system. It gives us and our customers confidence and peace of mind – and to me that is its greatest value.”
The simplicity of the system to operate and its data logging capabilities are also big benefits, Ms Frølund adds. “It is very easy to operate, you do not need specialist training or to be any kind of technical expert. You could just walk in off the street and operate it. And the data logging is a very useful aspect of the system. You can just plug in a cable and download all the relevant data. We no longer need to write down the results of testing and archive them manually. We are able to show our customers and the inspectors the results on the computer and they are satisfied.”
Ms Frølund concludes, “So far the MAP Check 3 Vacuum has been working perfectly for us and I could not be more happy!”