When it comes to packaging for our favorite products, it can be agreed by both consumers and manufacturers that the safety of what we consume and handle on a daily basis is extremely important. Whether it’s an X-ray, sensor, checkweigher or other inspection or detection device, manufacturers are constantly thinking of new innovations that could provide the safest solutions.

Here is a look at some of the new machinery and innovations furthering the inspection/ detection processes of our favorite products, while aiding food, beverage and pharmaceutical packagers alike.

Checking in

The new CM3570 CombiChecker system from METTLER TOLEDO, Inc. (mt.com) performs two key inspection functions in one integrated solution. The checkweigher and metal detector set up and configuration are completed at the checkweigher control panel, saving time and simplifying the operation.

Product changeovers result in automatic adaptation of each inspection device to the new package parameters. Easily customized from standard modules, this dual function system can be adapted for specific requirements of the food, personal care and pharmaceutical industries.

Further, the CM3570’s proficiency for 100% inspection for both metal contaminants and out of tolerance weights protects both the consumer and the manufacturer’s brand. The metal detector and checkweigher are matched in order to deliver optimum performance in difficult applications, and demonstrate due diligence and Critical Control Point monitoring as methods to increase product safety and prevent poor quality.

X-Ray Innovations

Two new X-ray inspection systems launched by Eagle Product Inspection (eaglepi.com) contain new inspection technologies to safeguard food products.

The Eagle Pipeline is an x-ray inspection system for contaminant detection of pumped products, including liquids, slurries and solids. It provides contaminant detection prior to end-of-line processing and packaging, where further value is added to contaminated product.

Also an x-ray inspection system, the Eagle Bulk 540 PRO is utilized for challenging high-volume, loose flow foods. It provides thorough identification of physical contaminants and has the ability to withstand rigorous hygienic demands.

“What we are finding is manufacturers need to inspect for contaminants earlier in the production process. Earlier detection allows manufacturers to minimize wasted products and protect machinery further down the line from damage,” says Kyle Thomas, strategic business unit manager for Eagle Product Inspection. “Our new technologies are designed for pumped products and also, for bulk meat, wet and dry foods, and give more accurate detection before adding value to the product. …We are continuously advancing our portfolio of technologies to deliver the results that our customers are looking for, which are better and finer contaminant detection and a higher quality of product.”

Another new X-ray innovation is Heat and Control’s (heatandcontrol.com) Dual energy X-ray for overlapping product inspection, the Ishida IX-G2 X-ray inspection systems.

According to Heat and Control, traditional X-ray systems detect foreign objects by analyzing dark and light areas in transparent X-ray images. But when products overlap, distinguishing dark areas from foreign objects become unreliable and result in missed detections and false rejects.

The Ishida IX-G2 X-ray inspection systems work to solve this problem by using a unique dual energy process that compares absorption of X-rays on two levels.

Ishida’s G2 technology improves detection of low-density objects in overlapped products and is adept at detecting thin pieces of metal, glass, rubber, hard bones and other foreign objects in products that have uneven surfaces. The IX-G2 also includes functions for weight verification and detection of missing items, incomplete filling, product defects, incorrect alignment or products trapped in package seals.

Also new to the X-ray sector, Loma Systems (loma.com) is responding to the growing demand for compact and cost effective, highly functional X-ray machines with its new X5c (compact) model.

According to Loma Systems, the X5c is aimed at food manufacturers, processors and packagers running multi-product, retail ready lines that want to switch to X-ray technology for the first time or as an end of the line product quality checker.

The X5c is ideal for the detection of glass, calcified bone, dense plastic, rubber, stone as well as ferrous, non-ferrous and stainless steel metals in various packaging. It operates at line speeds up to 164ft per minute and measures 3.3ft in length. It is capable of handling products up to 3.94in in height and 11.8in in width and weighing no more than 6.6 lbs. – making it ideal for the inspection of ready meal lines in particular.

The new compact model is made from brushed 304 stainless steel, offers an ultra-hygienic design for easy cleaning and low maintenance and serviceability, and has a quick release belt that can be completely removed without the need for tools or the belt tension can be eased for cleaning. The sloping surfaces of the X5c prevent food particles and water droplets accumulating in crevices reducing drying time.

Heat Sealing & Integrity Analysis

According to DIR Technologies (dir-technologies.com), the packaging industry has always known that inspection using sampling is not enough but, until now, the industry didn’t have a technological alternative that could offer 100% inspection.

Enter DIR Technologies’ new DIR Eye, which was formally introduced at PACK EXPO Las Vegas last year as an integrated feature on Shemesh’s SealPro Total thermo sealer. The DIR Eye is economically viable for all sectors. It utilizes heat sealing for packaging and provides integrity analysis for 100% of packages without line slowdown.

Using the DIR Eye system, the SIR Technologies’ SealPro Total automatically cuts the sealing laminate according to product sizes, ensuring both an accurate thermo seal and a correct sealing process. According to company press materials, the SealPro Total is the first heat sealing packaging machine to provide a ‘total’ experience, sealing and inspecting in one integrated unit.

New in Sensors

New to the sensor landscape, the ML6 Photoelectric Sensor Family from Pepperl+Fuchs (pepperl-fuchs.us) is equipped with redundant detection, long range sensing and retroreflective sensing, without a deadband to deliver maximum precision and fast response times.

An ML6 model with dual sensor redundant detection and independent outputs provides dual beams from two emitter LEDs that reflect light to two receivers, while two independent outputs indicate the state of each separate beam. Because of this, packagers can affordably align or guide translucent paper, plastic and fabric webs.

Also new in sensors, is Omron Automation and Safety (Omron247.com) E3X-HD fiber-optic sensor amplifier for ultra-stable presence/absence and inspection applications in space-confined sensing locations.

According to Omron, the E3X-HD is easy to operate, with one-button smart tuning for sensor threshold and light intensity. Its Smart Power Control feature automatically compensates for LED-aged deterioration, dust/grime build-up and mechanical vibration by detecting reductions in light intensity and incident level.

Other key features of Omron’s E3X-HD include; dual digital display for easy confirmation of settings and status, automatic compensation for deteriorating conditions, large and low-reflectance dark targets, incident level and threshold level to 9999 and EtherCAT and CompoNet high-speed open network communication interfaces. The result is ultra-stable performance with maintenance-free operation in even the most challenging conditions.

With all the new innovations in inspection and detection that rolled out in 2015, its ‘safe’ to say that manufacturers are continuing to meet the demands of packagers and consumers in the year ahead, to ensure the safety of our favorite packaged food, beverages and pharmaceuticals, with their new and innovative machinery, systems and products.