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Benefits of Automated Cap Torque Test Systems: a Case for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Manual cap torque testers have been used in the beverage, pharmaceutical and consumer industries for decades. As the saying goes, just because you can doesn't mean you should.

As a manual operation, a quality technician installs a bottle into a torque testing device and twists the cap by hand in the opening direction while obtaining an analogue or digital torque readout, all performed by the interaction of a human hand as the sample locator and the driving force of rotation and cap. Traditionally, cap/closure removal tests were carried out manually, which over time can lead to painful repetitive strain injuries to the operator's hand/wrist, such as carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). These injuries are very painful and difficult to heal without proper medical intervention, during which time an operator will be prevented from carrying out their normal duties. Eliminating CTS health problems is a focal issue with many companies, all over the world, especially with the steep increases in the cost of company health care programs.

The carpal tunnel is a small tunnel of bones and ligaments in the wrist. The median nerve runs down the forearm through the tunnel and into the hand on the palm side of the hand and provides feeling to the hand and fingers. The median nerve can become compromised from inflammation under this tunnel, which leads to carpal tunnel syndrome. The carpal tunnel does not allow for movement or growth of the nerve. Therefore, when it is inflamed, the median nerve is constricted and does not allow blood to flow through the hand to the fingers. CTS symptoms can develop over time. The hand and wrist may experience a painful burning sensation, tingle, feel numb and even feel swollen. Without treatment, burning and tingling may travel up the arm. Grip strength may be reduced and sensation in the fingers lost.

Since our systems are automatic, there is no manual intervention during the test. Therefore, any risk of repetitive strain injury is completely removed, turning a potentially hazardous process into a safe one. An added benefit is that tests are carried out faster and more accurately with results automatically saved ensuring a high level of data integrity.

The cost of health and safety can be high, but a "one off" investment in an automated torque test system could help to prevent costly compensation claims from an injured employee.

Another consideration is the health and safety of the customer; if a cap is too tight or not tight enough, it could pose a serious risk of contamination and compromised product. There are documented cases of litigation taken against companies because of injury caused by ill-fitting closures on their products. The Vibrac Cap Inspector will provide an audit path to prove proper procedures are in place to ensure bottles are capped to the correct specifications.

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