The meat industry pioneered the use of X-ray technology in food production, using it to identify and remove bone fragments and to analyze fat content. This non-destructive imaging technology lends itself to in-line production control and verification processes in all types of package formats. These advanced systems can detect and reject contaminants such as stone, metal, glass or plastic, and initiate diverter mechanisms to segregate affected batches or products. Advanced equipment is able to handle larger flow rates, without compromising product safety, and saves the facility time and cost.
Software capability continues to improve with better, more sensitive algorithms. Ishida checked the ability to detect voids in butter while the bars are in motion, leading to a more uniform product in the marketplace. Thermo Fisher Scientific just introduced its NextGuard system that has the added ability to identify unwanted clumps of product. This further enables more uniform product throughput at the manufacturer and finished product in the marketplace.
Solutions suppliers are also incorporating software and hardware combinations to allow inspection of raw material in free flow. For example, Mikitec introduced a system that can inspect grains and sugars in free flow without requiring a belt.
Additional consumer packaged goods manufacturers will be adopting X-ray technologies based on these increasingly diverse capabilities. Baking and snack manufacturers can use the technology to inspect products such as cookies and crackers, while confectionary manufacturers can inspect a variety of candy shapes and sizes to be sure the finished product has the desired shape. A bar or cookie that is cracked can be quickly removed before final packaging and shipment to the consumer.
In addition to inspection capability, other enhancements to x-ray systems include smaller footprint machines to fit into existing line configurations; increased data collection with time stamps for audits and record keeping; and simpler, menu based configuration.
Manufacturers seeking the latest developments in X-ray inspection and vision systems to ensure compliance with future food safety regulations and to enhance efficiencies on the production line can look to PACK EXPO Las Vegas 2013 (September 23-25; Las Vegas Convention Center) as a resource. For more information about the show or to register, visit www.packexpo.com.
Tom Egan, vice president, industry services, PMMI
PMMI, the Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies is a trade association representing over 600 packaging and processing supply chain companies that provide a full range of packaging and processing machinery, materials, components and containers. PMMI actively brings buyers and sellers together through programs and events such as The PACK EXPO family of trade shows, packexpo.com, PMT Magazine, PACK EXPO Show Daily, networking events and educational programs.
PMMI organizes the PACK EXPO trade shows: PACK EXPO International, PACK EXPO Las Vegas, PACK EXPO East, EXPO PACK Mexico and EXPO PACK Guadalajara, connecting participants in the packaging and processing supply chain with their customers around the world. Coming Up: EXPO PACK México 2013, June 18-21, 2013 (Mexico City, Mexico); PACK EXPO Las Vegas 2013 , Sept. 23–25, 2013 (Las Vegas Convention Center); PACK EXPO International 2014, Nov. 2-5, 2014 (McCormick Place, Chicago); Pharma EXPO, co-located with PACK EXPO International 2014, presented jointly with the International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering (ISPE); PACK EXPO East, debuting Feb. 2–4, 2015 (Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia); EXPO PACK Guadalajara 2015, March 18-20, 2015 (Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico).