Which bottle type is right for our product? What are the child-resistant packaging regulations? What is an 18DIN neck? There are always dispensing questions. Our packaging blog was developed to provide clear answers from the experts at Carow Packaging.
When it comes to the dispensing success of your liquid products, the quality of your packaging products and capping process matter. A lot. Whether you sell essential oils, CBD/THC oils, wellness drops, beauty products, or flavor enhancers you want to ensure that your customers have a good experience with the product. You also want to ensure that your production process runs smoothly. When quality fails, your company can face significant financial losses.
Here are three ways quality issues can hurt your company.
Negative Customer Experience – Lost Sales
Packaging helps to define your brand and assist in the user experience. Your packaging plays a critical role in shaping the first impressions customers have of your brand. Creating a more positive customer experience is essential to enhancing your bottom line.
Two big quality issues that can negatively affect the customer experience are leakage and broken tamper evident rings. The first is obvious. Liquid leaking from the bottle can make the outside of the bottle look bad, it can create a mess for the consumer, and can lead to wasted product.
In the second case, customers won’t trust the safety or purity of your product if the tamper evident ring is broken or partially broken. They will assume the product has been tampered with and demand a refund or just toss the product and never buy your brand again.
When quality issues arise, you need to stop the capping production process to identify and fix the issue. This takes time and every minute the line is down delays shipments. That can lead to unhappy customers and lost sales opportunities.
If your product leaks, either during or after the capping process, you may have to toss the bottle or the whole lot. That’s a loss of time and materials. Even if the product doesn’t leak, an improper fitting cap can lead to evaporation or spoilage. Either create a bad customer experience and can impact the bottom line.
Now that we’ve established that quality issues can really impact profitability, let’s talk about the type of capping quality issues to look out for.
PRODUCT VS. PROCESS
When a quality issue arises during the capping process, one of the first steps in troubleshooting is to figure out what type of problem you are facing.
Three things have the potential to ruin your capping process: People, Product, or Process. You need to start ruling each potential issue out in order to hone in on the core problem.
People – If you are capping by hand, the person could be inexperienced or get fatigued and create a production issue. If you use a machine for capping, then you can rule people out as a potential cause.
Product – If you are using caps from different manufacturers and the problem persists no matter which cap you use, then product may not be the potential cause.
Process – You are left with process as the main challenge to successful capping. It could be that the selected capping machine or the settings at setup are not optimized for the application.
People issues are less common, so let’s start with the quality of the cap. At Carow Packaging we employ a full time Quality Assurance Manager that manages our test lab to test and validate the products we sell. Distributed products are put through multiple situational tests while source material documentation is reviewed. Our Carow owned products are designed and manufactured to the highest standards. We are very proud that every item in our catalog is Carow approved.
While rare, every now and then some damaged products get through.
Using industry terms, here are two product quality issues to look for:
Short shots – When the plastic caps are being made, various factors could affect the amount of plastic flowing into the mold. For example, if the electricity goes out for a moment, it could shut down the air compressor. In that case, not enough resin is injected into the cap mold. If it’s just for a few moments, the issue may not be noticed. The result though, is that some threads on the inside of the cap may be missing or aren’t the right size to seal the cap.
Flash – When a manufacturer uses a mold that has reached its full life cycle, you can sometimes find extra plastic on the edges of the cap. That’s called flash and it prevents the cap from sealing all the way, so there will be a leak.
In our experience though, 98% of the quality issues we help troubleshoot are a result of the capping process.
Once your glass bottles are filled with your liquid product, either by hand or machine, you are ready to start capping. Choosing the right process for capping your liquid product is your company’s ultimate opportunity to satisfy your customers. If you select the proper capping setup, the liquid drops or pours as desired, the bottle cap does not leak, and purchasers become repeat customers.
Whether capping by hand or machine, the capping process will go through three “phases”:
Each one of these phases can present a challenge, and care should be taken to complete each one properly. (To learn more about stages of the capping process, download our Essential Oils Dispensing Guide.)
According to Jack Phommachanhom, our Quality Assurance Manager, if you have identified that process is the problem, here are three common issues to watch out for.
The Problem: When a bottle is filled with essential oil, any sort of leakage on the outside of the bottle can create problems with packaging. Oil on the bottle thread can cause skip threading and cap back-off. Product leakage is common when inconsistent and or low-close torque is applied with manual or automated capping machines.
The Solution: First, ensure oil is not getting on the bottle threads. To reduce product leakage consider calibrating the torque setting on the capping machine to achieve the target close torque range. Then test for closure off-torque to determine the precise close torque application specified for the product being packaged.
Premature Tamper Evident Ring Breakage
The Problem: The frangible, or the tamper evident band below the cap, is designed to be a security device to ensure the integrity of the seal and packaging for the consumer. It should not break until the consumer opens the bottle. However, it can break if the width of the band is too thin.
The Solution: Check with the packaging provider to see if the capping machine is set too low or if they are performing hand closure on the bottles. These are both causes of a frangible prematurely breaking. It can happen if the capping operator is suffering from fatigue and improperly capping the bottles. Take a look at your actual bottles to see if the frangible is designed to spec. If not, correct this issue.
Cap is Slipping, Won’t Seal
The Problem: The chuck or capping wheel is not properly gripping the cap to create the optimal force and pressure being applied to tighten the cap. Machines not programmed or setup correctly for the specific cap and bottle can strip the cap threads or deform and warp the cap so that it will never seal.
The Solution: Start from square one and reprogram the machine. Make sure you use a process of changing one variable at a time so you can identify where the process has an issue. Make sure the machine is gripping the bottle tight enough not to spin it. Then double check the recommended torque setting so that you don’t over torque on the bottle, spinning and striping the threads.
Read about other issues that may arise during the capping process and how to address them here.
AN EXTENSION OF YOUR TECHNICAL STAFF
As we said, we are proud to be one of the few dispensing packaging distributors who has a full time Quality Assurance Manager. Jack Phommachanhom is a huge asset to Carow Packaging checking the form, fit, and function of every product we sell. With a Process Engineering background, he is instrumental in developing new products, and assuring that all our products, whether designed in-house or sourced from another manufacturer, meet the highest quality standards.
He is also a valuable asset to our customers, many of whom rely on him as an extension of their technical staff. For example, a customer recently called Carow asking for help because they couldn’t get their caps to close properly. The plant supervisor sent live video of the production line so Jack could watch the line and see where the caps were slipping. He knew the machine was not set up correctly, but he didn’t know where. So, applying a methodological thought process, changing one variable at a time, Jack helped the plant supervisor start over from square one, reprogramming each element of the process to fix the issue. He was able to successfully help this customer set-up their machine and correct their capping process.
If you have any questions about the capping process or how Carow Packaging helps its customers with value added services like Quality Assurance and troubleshooting, please call our Solution Specialists at 815-455-4600.
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