Evaluation of package appearance and test methods: a case study at Tetra Pak Research and Development AB

This degree project was carried out at Tetra Pak Research & Development AB in Lund, a unit within Tetra Pak with 250 employees. Tetra Pak develops, produces and markets complete processing, packaging and distribution systems within the food sector. Tetra Pak Research & Development AB is a unit that supports all business areas within Tetra Pak. In 2003, the unit started the development of a new package with specific characteristics. The package is a 1000 ml aseptic package, which packs milk for long shelf life. It is called PLDP – Package for Liquid Dairy Product.

The main purpose of this study is to evaluate different measuring instruments and test methods concerning appearance aspects of the PLDP at Tetra Pak Research & Development AB. Furthermore, the purpose is to give recommendations on what actions need to be taken to work efficiently with the area of package appearance.

To attain the purpose a case study with values, methodologies and tools from the Total Quality Management system was conducted. A range of operations was made to gain an understanding of the PLDP project and its connections to appearance aspects of the package. For instance, a careful mapping of the current way of working with appearance at Tetra Pak Research & Development AB was made. Moreover, a suggestion of an improved partition of the appearance of PLDP was made. This was the starting-point for the identification and prioritisation of practicable features for this study to continue with. Also it facilitated the evaluation regarding measuring instruments and test methods, by viewing the partition in a new and organised way. The features evaluated in this study are Bulging and Visual Damages. In addition, several interviews with strategically selected employees within Tetra Pak were conducted. These interviews formed a basis for defining the conception of Package Appearance, which the area is called. The definition of Package Appearance was crucial to help the author to keep the red thread throughout the entire study.

The evaluation of Bulging and Visual Damages was made in different ways. First, available instruments to measure Bulging of the PLDP were listed. Two instruments were decided to go through a further investigation by means of a Measurement System Analysis (Gauge R&R). Such an analysis determines whether variation comes from the packages being measured, differences in operator measurements or the measuring instrument. The results show that a higher precision and a faster measuring procedure, almost without any influence of different operators can be obtained with a laser instrument. The second instrument to be analysed in a Measurement System Analysis was a calliper. According to Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR), this instrument was not a proper measuring instrument for this purpose. However, a laser instrument and a calliper are associated with different costs and these need to be taken into account in an investment situation.

The second feature, Visual Damages, was investigated by first determining which sub features to include in this feature. These sub features formed the input in the conduction of a test method consisting of photo references to compare with the actual defects of the packages. To reduce misconceptions when testing different features of a package, the author suggests working in accordance with such a method which puts references together of what is right and what is wrong among machine operators, laboratory personnel and project leader.

Author: Johansson, Camilla

Source: Lulea University of Technology

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