At a time when food manufacturers are seeking to boost their continuous improvement efforts, advanced multifunctional x-ray systems integrate seamlessly into quality programs while simultaneously ensuring product safety and regulatory compliance.
Today’s x-ray systems do much more than find and reject metal, stone and other contaminants, points out Alex Hann, Global Key Accounts Project Manager for Eagle Product Inspection. “X-ray inspection can be an important element providing companies with tools to integrate into their continuous improvement programs whether it’s Lean Manufacturing, Total Quality Management, Six Sigma or other initiatives. Improving efficiencies in an integrated way is crucial to continuous improvement, and is something that Eagle’s advanced x-ray systems do well and reliably,” he explains.
Eagle’s x-ray technologies reflect the goal of helping manufacturers adhere to continuous improvement programs. “In every step of our design, we are considering a lean approach. We work to make sure we can improve everything that x-ray touches,” says Hann. Examples of this approach to operational excellence include Eagle’s latest technology Eagle Pack 240 HC with new item-level traceability. Another example is the latest generation of Material Discrimination X-ray (MDX) technology with new detector configurations and advanced algorithms incorporated into the Eagle RMI 400 system for improved bone detection in poultry products.
According to Hann, x-ray inspection can streamline operational excellence by:
- Reducing product defects: Beyond checking for contaminants, advanced inspection systems conduct early and important quality checks, such as fill level, product placement, component count and zonal weights, among other functions, thereby reducing defects that hamper operational excellence.
- Lowering downtime: Problems upstream can lead to problems downstream. Whether it’s metal contaminants or stones that cause damage to equipment or the need for product rework. Eagle’s x-ray technologies, in place from raw materials to packaged products, reduce downtime by identifying defects and inconsistencies and help manufacturers determine where problems exist.
- Improving yield and giveaway: Lower yields and higher giveaways add up quickly, and x-ray inspection can help prevent those challenges. In bakery, for example, x-ray systems check for contaminants in flour at the beginning of production to prevent loss and downtime; later, x-ray systems can confirm the proper bun count in a final package. For meat, the Eagle’s FA3 system provides information to tailor batches to a desired fat and lean content to assure that those batches are consistently on target – reducing lean giveaway and saving money.
- Protecting equipment and extend equipment life across the line: By preventing contaminants from moving through the line, x-ray systems protect processing and production equipment from damage. Eagle’s robust x-ray systems are designed for a longer life than other x-ray machines, with some running up to a dozen years or more with minimal maintenance for a lower total cost of ownership.
- Accessing timely production data: Eagle’s x-ray systems, equipped with proprietary SimulTask™ PRO and TraceServer™ software, provide and store important data that can be easily accessed. Real time quality stats analytics are also available through Eagle’s software. “Our TraceServer software allows you to connect with any Eagle machine connected to the system to keep track of rejects and any quality issues that are either longstanding or immediately optimizing a site’s quality processes” notes Hann.
- Freeing up employees: In a tight labor market, manufacturers can re-deploy employees for other tasks by replacing visual inspection of products with x-ray inspection.
For more information on how Eagle’s versatile x-ray technologies can help manufacturers achieve continuous improvement in an integrated way view our blog.