Locating suppliers of containers, converting machines and other packaging-related materials should get easier with recent enhancements to the packexpo.com website, once suppliers provide.

Packexpo.com, a joint enterprise of the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Association (PMMA) and Cendex Corp., is enhancing the two-year-old site with product information from 6,000 suppliers worldwide.

By using the site's PackSearch search engine, visitors can get contact information for firms supplying a specified service. About half of the 6,000 suppliers have provided packexpo.com with the necessary product descriptions, and the priority now is securing similar information from the rest of those firms, according to Joyce Fassl, packexpo.com's content editor and former editor of Food Engineering. since introducing the new search feature at October's Pack Expo Las Vegas, "our traffic has doubled every month," adds Fassl. An advanced location search function is generating considerable interest, and additional enhancements will be added, including artificial intelligence.

Faster, cheaper oxygen analyzer Gas flush is becoming more common in food companies' packaging systems to ensure that consumers don't end up with a product that has been ruined by excessive oxidation.

Unfortunately, the equipment needed to test a package's oxygen content often is either bulky and expensive or slow and prone to frequent sensor replacement. National Fruit Product Co., a Winchester, Va., applesauce manufacturer, overcame those problems when it began using the GPR-20FP from Advanced Instruments Inc.

Cans of applesauce will corrode and even explode if sealed with ambient air, so the company uses a nitrogen flush to achieve oxygen levels below 5 percent. To verify that target, quality control expert Roger Lake uses a syringe to gather gas samples from the cans' head space.

With his old equipment, Lake needed 20-30 ccs of gas to get a reading. With the GPR-20FP, 3-5 ccs is sufficient. "It's a nice little machine: light, easy to carry, and the digital read-out is important with today's workforce," he says. At $2,300, the cost is about half that of comparable units, and the $300 sensor element lasts about two years.

Advanced Instruments Inc., Two Technology Way, Norwood, MA 02062. Tel.: (781) 320-9000.