Double seam defects can dent your reputation and finances
You’ve spent years researching, developing and perfecting your products and packaging. You’ve made solid wholesale distribution links to bring them to market. And you’ve impressed and secured repeat business with the people that really matter….the consumer.
This is a big achievement and a job well done. But one flawed can with a seam defect is all it can take to put a big dent in your reputation and finances.
Across the globe food safety is becoming an increasingly hot topic. With consumers rightfully demanding more control over where – and how – their meals are processed and packed. But regardless of whether you make or fill food or beverage cans – or work with cans for aerosols, the threat of seam defect and product recall is always one to take seriously.
As the conversation evolves, the keenest eyes are fixed on can manufacturers. Which means that the responsibility to ensure your part in consumer safety has never been more critical. Your inspection and quality control processes must be first rate – so it’s wise to stay abreast of emerging inspection technologies. They get better, smarter, and more sophisticated every year.
Be careful with can seam defects
So, how can the seam defects of a defective batch, or even just a single can, harm your business? Here’s a list of the main offenders that keep our customers awake at night:
• A reputationally damaging public product recall
• A non-public recall from the supply chain
• Resource costs in manually sorting out defective batches
• Return shipment and handling costs
• Destruction costs – plus increased waste
• Costs to reproduce defective cans
• Costs to redistribute perfect products
• Postponed delivery repercussions
• Administrative resource
• Potential penalties
• Storage costs.
It might seem like it’s not going to happen to you. Many companies continue for years without experiencing any double seam defects, never mind a defective batch. But then disaster strikes and they realise it wasn’t worth the risk. One can is all it takes. If just one can slips through the net, making its way to a consumer, the impact on your brand can be devastating.
A cautionary can seam defect tale
So what does a major product recall involving a defective seam look like in practice? Not pretty, to put it mildly. Just take the recent case involving Tiger Brands – South Africa’s largest food manufacturer – for a warning shot across the bow.
In July of this year (2021) the top 40 JSE company announced it would be recalling some 20 million cans – a whopping nine percent of its annual production! Which equates to around R650 million – an eye-watering $42M
This followed safety concerns linked to a deficient side seam weld, which could cause the cans to leak. The product recall spread from South Africa, to the UK, Australia and New Zealand, with notices issued for each country. A wholesale distributor in Australia even went as far as to suggest that the potential leak to some products could result in a potential microbial contamination.
Even to an organisation of this magnitude, it’s clearly a big hit financially and optically, for a company that has spent the last nine decades honing its reputation. And all of it came from just 18 cans at one of Tiger Brand’s facilities – which were purchased from a supplier.
So what can you do about it?
So as you can see, even the biggest companies face can seam inspection problems. The best way to eliminate risk is to start by looking at your current equipment. Does it ensure you optimal protection, or is there more you could be doing?
Traditionally most can makers and can fillers relied upon statistical can seam inspection. A measuring system that takes a sampling approach. It allowed for potentially critical issues to be flagged; the measurements analyzing trends and tracking potential long-term mechanical issues.
When a seam defect is identified, the batch is blocked to ensure no faulty cans are shipped out. Following which the batches are either sorted and investigated manually, allowing quality and defective cans to be filtered appropriately.
Or the whole batch is destroyed. This process involves manually opening cans and destroying all product and packaging separately in accordance with specific guidelines.
There’s no doubt that statistical can seam inspection affords businesses a good level of protection. But this approach does leave you exposed to isolated faults that could result in unforeseen sorting efforts, unexpected machine clean ups, customer complaints, and product recalls.
So, what’s the solution? To achieve optimal efficiency in your weld seam inspection process, significantly reduce risk, cost, and overall hassle. You need technology that inspects every single can on the production line.
Which is why so many companies now invest in automated in-line seam inspection instruments. One hundred percent vision can seam inspection equipment that does what it says on the tin. And when you combine it with the traditional statistical seam measurement approach…you get a truly accurate solution.
So, if one can is all it takes, you can protect yourself.