The new calibration system is now available on many of the company’s PAC CHECK® series oxygen (O2) carbon dioxide (CO2) and carbon monoxide (CO) headspace analyzers. It provides packagers with a way to obtain a more consistent/ accurate projection of product shelf life than previously possible. This can mean a reduction in product spoilage and an increase in grocer/consumer’s perception of quality.
Headspace analyzers typically go out of calibration for two reasons-the first is a leak or a defective part. The second is “intrinsic drift” that can occur with any unit based on electronic components.
“Typical calibration methods can usually catch problems with a defective part, but it doesn’t catch the electronic drift. The latter is the slow, hard-to-find, silent killer when it comes to accuracy. What Cal-Smart® does is self-diagnose the electronic drift and correct it,” says Anthony Ahmed, product manager, MOCON.
Cal-Smart® features one-button calibration. It uses ambient air and advanced electronic controls to perform a two-point calibration (0- and 21- percent gas levels) vs. the commonly used certified gas methods. Two-point calibrations are fast and easy which improves the instrument’s accuracy and repeatability while significantly reducing intervals between more time consuming certified gas calibrations. The unit also has temperature and pressure compensation for test consistency. In addition, a manual three-point certified gas calibration for high O2 is provided as a standard feature.
“We developed the Cal-Smart® system as a response to what we were seeing in the marketplace. One of the drivers was a need for more accurate measurement of even smaller amounts of headspace gas. The second was to offer a quick and easy way to standardize calibration methods that seemed to be going in many different directions-most of which were detracting from the accuracy of the units,” says Ahmed.
Unlike all other time-consuming and less accurate calibration methodologies, Cal-Smart® only requires the push of a button. The calibration cycle only takes 90 seconds to execute.
Headspace analyzers are typically used to determine if the levels of residual O2 and CO2 gas in a package are at the optimum level so that desired shelf life objectives can be met. Units that aren’t properly calibrated lead to faulty readings. This results in packages entering the retail arena that don’t meet consumer expectations.
“After using one of our Cal-Smart® calibrated instruments, we received a call from a packager telling us that a product shipment that was originally destined for the international market had to be diverted to a domestic location since it would not be able to meet the expected shelf life after the transport time was factored in. Had the shipment taken place, there would have been a significant amount of product spoilage and negative economic impact,” Ahmed says.
Two-point calibrations are fast and easy which improves the instrument’s accuracy and repeatability while significantly reducing intervals between more time consuming certified gas calibrations. The unit also has temperature and pressure compensation for test consistency.
Cal-Smart® is now standard on the company’s hand held PAC CHECK 302, 333, 325 units, as well at the bench-top PAC CHECK 450EC and 650EC models. The headspace analyzers are used for a wide variety of food applications including: cheese, meat, poultry, seafood, prepared meals, pasta, baked goods, fresh produce, carbonated soft drinks, coffee, etc.
MOCON is a leading provider of instrumentation and consulting and laboratory services to medical, pharmaceutical, food and other industries worldwide. See www.mocon.com for more information.