Protecting your brand in the marketplace and providing customers with high quality products are some of the most important functions a food manufacturer can perform. Meeting consumer expectations for food safety and consistency can be a defining factor in a brand’s success but all the time and money spent establishing a reputation can be lost in the event of one safety recall.
That is why developing and maintaining an effective, verifiable inspection program is no longer just an option for processors, but a necessity. The increase in innovative technology now provides a range of systems that can not only detect foreign objects, but can also operate simply, efficiently, and at high speed while collecting data to provide a transparency previously unachievable.
Metal detection is an inspection process that can occur at several points throughout a production line. The primary purpose of installing metal detection is to identify ferrous (magnetic), non-ferrous metal contaminants in a product – for example aluminium, stainless steel and even paint chips.
While the use of metal detection in food production is primarily for the quality control of a product and ultimately consumer protection, metal detection units can also be used to protect machinery throughout the production line. The smallest metal particles can lead to machinery malfunction, resulting in revenue decreases due to the need for production downtime to perform repairs, as well as the cost of the repairs themselves.
Metal detectors perform differently depending on their application. When used in food processing, metal detectors are typically constructed as a metal box housing a three transmitter-receiver coil detector system. The transmitter coil generates an electromagnetic field, similar to how a radio transmitter would function.
If a metallic object is present it interferes with the electromagnetic field, causing a signal to be detected by the receiver coils. Although metal particles are able to be detected by other forms of inspection systems, metal detection systems are separated by their level of sensitivity.
Cutting-edge technology in metal detection has seen the invention of a multi-spectrum system. This new generation of metal detector is capable of eliminating false rejects without reducing sensitivity. Using proprietary multi-spectrum technology, it is able to consistently detect smaller metal particles in difficult products like wet spinach, cheese, tortillas and ground beef.
A manufacturer of metal detectors, CEIA, has developed multi-spectrum technology available in no other metal detector. The CEIA’s MS21 multi-spectrum metal detectors are the only metal detectors that use many frequencies simultaneously.
More detection frequencies mean more sensitive metal detection and fewer product effect errors. Other metal detectors – even three-frequency models – use only one frequency at a time.
Seal checking or testing is used to detect leakage, as well as identify trends that may give early warning of deterioration in the sealing process. As a product moves through the seal checker/tester, an inspection head applies optimum controlled pressure to the pack to detect and evaluate any subsequent “give”.
Ishida high-performance, in-line seal checkers can inspect up to 150 bags per minute, making seal checking an integral step of the inspection process for the reduction of waste, as well as ensuring product integrity prior to it reaching retailers.
X-ray Inspection Systems
Used in conjunction with metal detection, an X-ray inspection system is the final check in a complete inspection line. X-ray inspection is a way of identifying inconsistencies, physical defects, and/or contaminants in product packaged in a pouch, bottle, can, jar, or flow of product passing through the system, without damaging the food product. Contaminants can be foreign bodies in the product such as pieces of glass, stone, shell, pebbles, bone, as well as plastics including hard rubber, nylon, PVC, and Teflon, and metals such as steel, iron, and aluminium.
X-rays are a form of electromagnetic wave of high energy and short wavelengths that are able to pass through food products. X-ray inspection systems function by passing an X-ray beam through an item as it moves along the line. As the X-ray beam passes through the item, it is converted into a greyscale image that can be easily scrutinised and recorded for historical traceability records. Contaminants denser than the product will present in this image as darker, whereas voids or missing pieces will present as lighter. This forms the basis of identification.
The Ishida range of X-ray inspection systems to help food manufacturers and processors comply with global safety standards and meet the demands of quality and safety-conscious retailers.
The IX-G2 series is able to provide a high level of quality assurance to processors and manufacturers of complex products including poultry, meat, vegetables, French fries and cereals.
Its dual energy sensor provides effective X-ray detection of low-density objects.
Sorting systems are also an integral part of the food processing line. A wide range of systems are available to food processers including colour sorters, smart laser sorters and also new hyperspectral technology.
Laser sorters inspect structural properties of each object to identify and remove foreign matter to improve the quality and increase the value of the product. These quality objectives are easily achieved with today’s sophisticated range of digital sorting systems that recognise colour, shape, size, and structural properties.
Laser and laser/camera sorters are available as combination systems. Designed with up to five lasers operating at different wavelengths, they can detect and remove a variety of defects and foreign matter. When combined with high-resolution cameras for superior shape, size, and colour determination, the result is a high-quality product.
They are configurable with a range of sensor options for single- or double-side viewing of the product stream on low to medium-capacity applications.
It sorts and manages separation of the product stream into two or three sort ways. The VeryX digital sorting platform has a modular platform of chute-fed and belt-fed sorters to meet specific needs. It features innovative mechanical architecture and sensor technology, state-of-the-art electronic sort engine advances machine algorithms and rich information capabilities.