Automated tube testing system shortens time to delivery, improves quality

Cerulean's Q-Test, the first fully automated tube testing system for laminate and plastic tubes, will allow industries such as packaging and consumer goods to reduce time to delivery, eliminate labor intensive manual testing. The machine is at Pack Expo, Sept. 26-28.


Cerulean's Q-Test, said to be the first ever fully automated tube testing system for laminate and plastic tubes, increases quality and saves time.

Cerulean Q-Test, a fully automated tube testing system; Courtesy CeruleanManual tube testing as part of the packaging process is time consuming and can be inconsistent. Q-Test targets the medical, personal care and consumer food product industries where high quality packaging is essential.

“Tube producers in these industries need to test a number of parameters during the production process to prevent possible product failures and expensive manufacturing downtime,” said Peter Wilson, global sales manager, Cerulean. “These tests are currently carried out manually, making them labor intensive and open to interpretation with potentially inconsistent results. Cerulean Q-Test removes the need for this manual testing and offers accuracy and repeatability as well as providing a full history of quantifiable results that can be used to help improve product quality.”

Weld test results

One of the quality control tests currently carried out manually by tube manufacturers checks whether the weld between the body of the tube and the molded shoulder leaks. If the joint leaks, it is possible for the contents to become contaminated, or in some cases leak from the tube. To conduct this test, a tube is pressurized with an airline and then immersed, by hand, into a bucket of water to see if bubbles appear. This is messy, time consuming, and involves having water in the production area. Also, results from this method are also subjective and cannot always be quantified. Another important test carried out by hand is using a manual torque gauge. This test checks whether a tube’s cap has been tightened too much, or is too loose.

Tube manufacturers also need to ensure that the joint along the length of the tube, known as the side-seam, is within specification. This is currently tested by cutting a section of the tube with a sharp knife and then examining the joint with a microscope. These measurements, and other important checks, are very labor intensive and open to interpretation, leading to inconsistent results depending upon the skill and experience of the operator.

Automated testing drives efficiencies

Q-Test performs these tests automatically and logs the results for future reference. There are two measurement modules:

  • Q-Test 1 is based on pneumatics and measures leak, burst and torque parameters of plastic and laminate tubes using high quality precision transducers
  • Q-Test 2 adds the ability to measure length, diameter, ovality and side-seam parameters using both laser and high resolution optical systems.

Tubes can be fed to the machine manually, via a hopper or by using an automated transfer system.

Q-Test includes an industrial PC which controls all the mechanical and software aspects of the system. Results can be printed locally, on a network or shared on a company wide database if required, by linking the system to a network via Ethernet.

The system is expected to be demonstrated at Pack Expo 2011 in Las Vegas. Click here to see other Control Engineering Pack Expo coverage. 


- Edited by Chris Vavra, Control Engineering,

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