EBI: Empty Bottle Inspection for Glass

If you’re working in food and beverage, you’re probably familiar with something called “EBI”, or “Empty Bottle Inspection”. The theory of these is very simple: most food and beverage operators want to inspect the integrity and quality of their glass container before filling it with expensive product – and potentially having it break, or finding a defect that makes it unsuitable to sell. EBIs have been around for about 30 years and their primary job is to do a sophisticated inspection of this kind of container.


Returnable Beer Bottles

EBIs were originally created to solve the returnable beer bottle problem. Imagine you get a beer bottle back from a customer: you want to make sure the beer bottle is empty, that there’s nothing in it, that there is no damage from use. The beer industry has been using EBIs for a good while, and over time it’s become more sophisticated to match the broad sense of issues.

The challenge with that sophistication is that those machines are fairly intensive to operate. If you visit a beer plant, you probably noticed that beer lines are generally configured to run one type of container. That means it’s more straightforward from the operational standpoint to run an EBI on this type of container – more than in the food industry, where you might run many products on one line and must do constant product changeover.

So, generally, EBIs are less prevalent in the food industry. But let’s take a moment to think about when food producers might need the most help with detection, and what might best be helpful.

Non-Returnable, “One Way” Glass Containers

In food production, almost all glass is “one way”: there are not many returnable glass containers (for example you can’t return a spaghetti sauce container). That means the problem’s a little simpler because there’s less to worry about. Generally, food producers worry about the same things:

  • The glass wall thickness. There could be cracks or chips in the glass. You want to make sure a jar isn’t so thin in one spot that it will break when filled with product.
  • Foreign material in the jar. If there’s a broken piece of glass in a jar, you definitely don’t want to fill it!
  • Serious inclusions in the glass. Sometimes, pieces of metal end up in glass containers, which is dangerous for consumers.

These are much simpler problem sets than if you’re working with returnable glass.

X-ray EBI for One Way Containers

The good news is that X-ray systems are great for solving these problems. At Peco InspX, we’re focused on delivering X-ray-based EBI for one-way glass. These systems are simple to operate, there’s no container handling, there’s nothing that spins the bottle – it’s a simple, straightforward capability. From a food operator standpoint, our machines will find those defects. We’re able to get containers that would break on the line out of the feed stream.

Remember that if containers break, you have to shut down your filler. That means a lot of downtime instead of production. There’s also a material amount of risk because you have to make sure none of the broken containers got into the product.

We highly recommend that customers use full-container X-ray on their finished product.

Now, the improvement in X-ray image resolution makes them excellent choices for EBI on the front-end of your filler.

Benefits of Using X-ray for EBI

When you combine these two machines, you get the benefit of up-front operational efficiency. And on the backend, you’re getting 100% assurance that your product is foreign material free. With our systems, we can guarantee that:

  • There’s full coverage of the glass container width, both in the bottom of the container and in the sidewall. If you’ve got a severely swung baffle (which is an over-mounding of glass on one side of the bottom), that causes the glass to be thinner in the area without the baffle – so when you fill the jar and put it down, it’s very likely to break.
  • If there’s any chipping, our sophisticated container integrity inspection will find that.
  • We can help you develop a data recording approach: if there’s a particular mold or glass from a glass supplier that’s causing issues, you’ll know what that is right away.
  • And of course, X-rays are the best choices for finding foreign material in glass containers: which we’ve talked about before.

Until recently, X-ray systems have been focused on full container inspection. But Empty Container Inspection is very viable, especially when X-ray-based. The X-ray makes the process simple. And if you’re already using an X-ray system at the end of your line, the good news is you already know how to use an X-ray on the front-end.

If you have any further questions, please contact us today.


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