E-commerce products often travel longer distances than traditional brick-and-mortar retail shipments. An e-commerce package of granola bars may be shipped uncased from the manufacturer to a distributor center to an ecommerce distributor. Then, the secondary packaging is made with paperboard and other products and shipped to the consumers in a larger shipping container.
Seal integrity tests can be measured using simulations and actual road tests, as different distribution processes can add stress to the seal area or packaging.
There are specific standards for food distribution. For example, the seals on packaged foods sent to astronauts aboard the International Space Station must meet the specific requirements of the environment.
There are both destructive and nondestructive methods of testing seals to make sure they can withstand shipping, consumer handling, and the environmental conditions that will affect the product's life span.
One method is used to examine the seals on food packaging:
Gas leak test
This method is used on sealed (entirely sealed samples) to measure the migration of gas from the inside of the package to the outside environment.
Helium is used due to its low environmental presence, detectability via mass-spectrophotometer, nonexplosive nature and chemical inertness. The positive pressure test is performed by an operator who injects helium in a sealed container or adds helium directly to the headspace of the package after sealing.
The mass spectrophotometer then uses this to determine and quantify the amount of helium present in the enclosed space. The vacuum method of gas leak detection tests uses a vacuum to put stress on seals in order to detect small leaks. The rate at which helium is transferred through the material and through seals captures this transmission rate.