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Inspection Insights Blog

10 Tips to Keep Your Leak Testing Machine Running Smoothly

February 1, 2022

028_DSC7900_210324_ALPSIntegrating leak inspection equipment into your manufacturing line is an excellent investment that will protect your inventory and save your business time and money.

To keep your machine in top shape, it’s crucial to perform regular tests to make sure your leak inspector is working as it should. While we provided a detailed maintenance manual with your machine, we have also created a list of 10 tips you can follow to keep your ALPS Inspection leak testing machine running smoothly.

Download 10 Tips Infographic

1. Leak Inspect the Leak Inspector

When it comes to leak inspection, it’s impossible to tell the difference between a hole in the tubing or a hole in the bottle being tested. As such, performing a quarterly or monthly routine pressure test is a great way to ensure there are no holes in your machine’s leak detecting circuit tubing. It can also check for holes and leaks in any part of the machine, such as the probes, seals, tubing, valves, transducer, or test circuit.

It’s important to set the pressure test for an extended amount of time. The machine should maintain pressure and slowly decrease over time while leveling off first. If the pressure immediately drops, there is a leak in the system that must be repaired. If your system is a multi-head system, it is also important to compare heads.

Learn more about how our machines use pressure tests to detect container leaks.

2. Self-Check of Regulators and Transducers

It’s important to complete a self-check of fill regulators, probe regulators, and transducers to ensure they are reading accurately. When these components are not working properly it can increase the level of scrap produced and result in further maintenance needs.

A review of regulators and transducers involves looking for consistency with multi-head machines. If any heads are drifting it can cause a difference in leak rate, where one head would have a higher reject rate than others resulting in excess scrap.

ALPS offers calibration kits customers can use to calibrate the machine and ensure consistency and performance.

3. Checking Your Probe and Seals for Signs of Wear and Damage

Every part of your leak testing machine affects performance. Checking the probes and seals for damage is a great way to fix any easy issues before the damage leads to a more significant problem.

There are three things to consider when it comes to your probes and seals:

  1. There are different hardness levels of seals, which is referred to as the durometer. Various durometer seals may wear differently. Regardless of durometer, check your seals for worn grooves and buildup of dirt.
  2. The probe pressure will affect how quickly the seals will wear. The higher you consistently set your pressure (the amount you push down on the container), the faster your seals will weaken and need replacement.
  3. The smoothness of your container sealing surface will affect seal wear. A jagged or rough container will more quickly damage the seal compared to a smooth container.

Paying attention to your seals and probes can ensure the entire machine is performing at full capacity. It can be easy to overlook these details, but any minor defect can cause undetected leaks, leading to lost inventory and money.

Did you know ALPS maintains a spare parts inventory? We can quickly get you any part you need so you experience little to no downtime.

4. Change Out Filters to Maintain Dry Air

Maintaining the filter elements on the main incoming filter assembly is crucial to make sure it remains a dry system. If water gets into any leak inspection systems, it will cause the valves to malfunction. You also want to avoid getting water on the circuit boards, as this can lead to major issues with the electrical components of the machine.

If filters are routinely checked and functioning correctly, they should still be replaced every year. Filters are less than $100 and can save you significant repair costs in the long run.

5. Check Your Greasing Points

There are greasing points on the Speed-Glider, FlexPitch® and NexGen Rotary (NGR) machine tracks that you must maintain for these machines to run smoothly.

If any of these points are not well lubricated, it can cause additional wear, and your machine will start functioning erratically, affecting the test and resulting in an increased scrap rate. Follow your maintenance timeline to determine how often you will need to grease machine tracks.

6. Make Sure Bottle Handling Is Smooth

Bottle handling may be erratic and inconsistent if something is not set up properly on your machine or a damaged part needs replacing. Routinely checking to see if the bottle handling is smoothly running can help determine whether or not your machine is functioning correctly or an issue is present.

There may be several reasons for erratic bottle handling. For example, your machine may not be completely parallel with your conveyor. If you have a NexGen Rotary machine, the issue may be the wrong tooling setup.

ALPS offers full-service audit, maintenance, and repair services and can help you retain a consistent preventative maintenance timeline and keep your lines running at maximum capacity. Learn more now.

7. Clean Contact Points

Cleaning all contact points (any machine part that contacts the container) once a day can ensure any dust or debris does not contaminate your containers or product.

A simple five-minute process of using a damp rag to wipe down parts could potentially save you thousands of dollars. With the NexGen Rotary, this means cleaning the tooling and probes. With the FlexPitch, you should clean only the probes, as it’s a tool-less tester.

8. Safety Checks

Performing routine safety checks can ensure your employees are out of harm's way. You will want to thoroughly examine the windows and emergency stops to make sure all of them function correctly and look for any signs of tampering. Opening any window while the machine is running should result in an immediate machine shut-down.

9. Ensure You are Catching Your Desired Hole Size

You can ensure your machine catches your desired hole size by creating a test bottle. Simply poking a hole in your test bottle is not a reliable test because the hole can close up to some unknown size, depending on bottle temperature, material, and thickness.

Drilling a hole and inserting a calibrated orifice is the best option.

Calibrated orifices come in many sizes, allowing you to test your machine by rejecting a specific hole size. You can then run this test bottle through your machine multiple times. It’s important to test every station if you have a multiple-station machine.

What if your leak testing machine is obsolete? ALPS is here to help you minimize unplanned downtime by offering a quick and smooth transition to a new piece of equipment.

10. Occasionally Put a Bad Container On

It’s good practice to occasionally run a defective bottle through your machine to see if it’s rejected. If the bottle goes through undetected, it’s time to take a closer look at what’s going on. It’s a fast and simple test but should not be the only routine test you perform.

Download 10 Tips Infographic

Looking for more machine maintenance tips? Our “Leak Detection Equipment: Operation Checks + Maintenance Timeline” provides a great overview you can print and use as a quick reference.

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