Sector Spotlight: Compliance, Competence And Calibration For Aerosol Wrapping

The packaging of aerosols is a highly technical operation that commands a cautious approach. The highly pressurised, often flammable nature of their contents can make aerosols particularly dangerous if not processed safely, where an oversight or simple mistake could have deadly consequences. Therefore, the introduction of any shrink wrapping equipment for aerosols should be meticulously planned, researched and the advice of an expert sought.

That being said, the benefits of shrink wrapping for this industry are plentiful, and so aerosol manufacturers should not be deterred. Automated machinery can increase packing speeds whilst also increasing the capacity and output of products compared to manual packing in boxes (which can also be costly to source and time-consuming to erect). A shrink film layer can collate multipacks, create a tamper-evident seal, maintain a dust-free, hygienic product and is extremely low cost per pack, as well as being 100% recyclable.

So how best to ensure complete safety and peace of mind in your aerosol wrapping set-up? If your equipment complies unwaveringly with current BAMA regulations pertaining to the risks of fire, overheating or product overloading, your packing operation will be a breeze. So let YPS clear the fog surrounding BAMA compliance by spelling out exactly the relevant regulations and how to diligently mitigate any risks with a solution from our leading range of sleeve wrappers.

Regulation: 4.5.1. ‘The shrink wrap machine shall have a secondary means of keeping the conveyor moving in the event of a power failure.’

YPS aerosol sleeving equipment is supplied as standard with a pneumatic air motor, which ensures that the shrink tunnel is not only evacuated but continues to run in the event of a power cut. This works by holding a reservoir of air under pressure which is automatically released if power is lost. This air pressure is then used to drive the shrink tunnel belt for a period of around thirty seconds, which eliminates the possibility of product remaining inside the shrink tunnel and therefore the danger of any aerosols overheating.

Regulation 4.5.2. ‘A device shall be installed to prevent excessive temperatures occurring in the heating tunnel.’

Our shrink wrapping equipment is fitted with temperature overload circuitry, which ensures that the tunnel temperature cannot exceed a pre-set temperature. This is backed up by a second temperature control that guarantees these conditions should the first temperature defence fail. An after-pack cooling fan at the outfeed of our shrink ovens can also be directed to blow cool inert air into the machine if required, to help maintain safe temperatures.

Regulation 4.5.3. ‘An excessive temperature indicator shall be installed for operator information.’

An alarmed thermal over-temperature warning circuit will sound if the shrink tunnel was ever to exceed the pre-set temperature, whether through fault or by an oversight during set-up by an operator.

Regulation 4.5.4. ‘An emergency stop switch shall be installed to allow the power supply to the shrink wrap heaters to be turned off in the event of an emergency.’

Our aerosol specification equipment incorporates multiple e-stops in its design, which causes an immediate and total system shut down should it be activated. Additional contactors are also fitted to ensure the three-phase power cuts off completely in this event. An easily located isolator switch also provides this functionality as an emergency manual back-up.

Regulation 4.5.5 – ‘The shrink wrap machine design shall ensure that individual aerosols and collations are prevented from being trapped in the heating area by built-in obstructions.’

To prevent blockages from occurring inside the shrink oven, all of our units boast guide rails within, which prevent any trapping points for individual aerosols or multipack collations to become stuck as they transition through the machine. These smoothly sloping guides also prevent any snagging or ripping of the shrink film which could otherwise auto-ignite within the machine.

Regulation 4.5.6. ‘There shall be a device to stop the in-feed to the shrink wrapper if back-up occurs downstream.’

The dedicated backup sensors fitted to our machines ensure complete compliance with this requirement. If wrapped aerosols were not evacuated from the gravity discharge conveyor for any reason, this could cause a backlog of products inside the shrink tunnel, quickly becoming a hazardous threat in as little as 20 seconds over the prescribed shrinking time. In order to collect past this sensor, a signal is sent back to our sleeve sealer to stop accepting new product into the line. The location of this sensor is critical, as the one-metre allowance between it and the end of the shrink tunnel allows adequate space for any and all aerosols already in the shrink tunnel to vacate and accumulate at a safe point on the gravity outfeed.

Regulation 4.5.7. ‘A device should be installed to count collations in and out of the heating tunnel, to activate heater power cut-outs, alarms and stop in-feed in the event of a tunnel blockage.’

All aerosols are automatically counted in and out of the shrink tunnel by our pack counter technology and an alarm will sound should a pack fail to exit the tunnel.

Regulation 4.5.8. ‘There should be an automatic device to detect film failure and prevent new collations from being allowed to enter the heated film shrinking area in the event of a film failure.’

Should the shrink film supply run out during production, all YPS aerosol machinery is pre-programmed to detect this automatically and respond by immediately shutting down production, including the heater and infeed. This is an important safety feature because any failure of the film supply could otherwise result in the aerosols inside falling over and becoming trapped in the heated area. In this instance, complete jaw safety is still guaranteed because if a film failure was to trigger the jaw to hit an aerosol at all, it would not puncture it but would simply commence an automatic shut down of the machine.

Regulation 4.5.9. ‘Safety devices and indicators shall be calibrated or checked at regular specified intervals and the results recorded.’

Every machine from YPS is supported by a comprehensive programme of preventative maintenance via an included service contract. Our team of dedicated SafeContractor approved engineers carry out detailed operator training for every aerosol system at the point of installation, including how to check and inspect all of the important safety features and indicators, with regular health-check visits conducted by YPS over the lifetime of the equipment. The details of every check-up are logged on a shared report with each customer and logged centrally at YPS for reference and traceability. Our engineering team contact each customer when it’s time for s service, dependent on the machinery’s usage and production schedule.

The BAMA directives also give some general guidance as to the flexible films that should be sought for an aerosol shrink wrapping operation, noting that ‘the heavier the film, the hotter the shrinking temperature required or the longer the pack needs to spend in the film-shrinking zone.’ At YPS, we can tailor the supply of shrink film to any aerosol application by offering our dedicated range of specialist ultra-thin micron films which shrink perfectly at lower temperatures.

Providing all of the above official guidelines are adhered to, aerosol manufacturers can be safe in the knowledge that their sleeve wrapping equipment is fit for purpose and all machinery operators are protected from harm. For those seeking extra peace of mind, an additional suite of safety features can be fitted by YPS for aerosol wrapping lines over and above those specified by BAMA regulations, including flame detectors and CO2 flooding systems. Through our triple-pronged approach of competence, compliance and calibration, YPS can supply a safe, secure, reliable and long-lasting shrink sleeving solution to any aerosol business. Just ask LMA, Autosmart or James Briggs!

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