“Remote” is one of the top words of the past year, as companies, institutions and agencies have learned to navigate novel situations and disruptions in a virtual way. When it comes to the installation and use of equipment in food and beverage facilities, including x-ray machines, remote support, service, training and auditing can help manufacturers stay compliant and hit their goals for production and efficiencies.
Necessity is the mother of invention, as they say, and the many needs over the last challenging year have led to some creative solutions. Among those solutions is the rise of remote service and support in the food and beverage industry to keep businesses operating and up to date on regulations.
Fortunately, technology is enabling better and more frequent communication platforms for virtual exchanges of many kinds. From high-quality cameras to advanced software, these technologies help food and beverage manufacturers keep machines running accurately and efficiently and stay compliant with food safety requirements and standards. What’s more, these support systems cut down on travel expenses and travel-related climate impacts that would otherwise be incurred.
Zeroing in on some capabilities, here are three types of remote support for x-ray inspection service that help users choose and use the right equipment for their needs, validate its effectiveness and stay on top of maintenance and training:
1) Remote pre-purchase testing and validation
In any time, testing is key to the decision-making process when investing in new equipment, including advanced inspection systems. The changing business environment of the past year has led to adaptive ways of testing and validating equipment before it is bought and installed. Eagle continues its pre-purchase testing capability, through which manufacturers and processors send products directly to Eagle’s Application Lab for inspection and the determination of the probability of detection via test reports.
In addition, after purchase and before installation manufacturers can conduct remote Factory Acceptance Tests (FATs) on Eagle’s x-ray machines via live videoconferencing and file sharing in place of in-person FATs. This way, manufacturers are still able to confirm that the equipment is made and ready to operate according to agreed-on pre-purchase specifications.
2) Post-installation support and training
With the growing need for remote solutions, manufacturers have been able to take advantage of remote support and training after machinery is purchased and installed. For example, after a new x-ray machine is installed, Eagle’s technicians can log onto the system remotely to troubleshoot, upgrade, and monitor the system. In addition to ensuring that the machine’s performance is optimal, Eagle’s trainers use virtual communications to demonstrate to operators how the equipment can be calibrated, validated, and maintained, from proper belt removal to the use of software that enhances detection, quality and traceability.
3) Ongoing troubleshooting and maintenance
As in before the pandemic, Eagle offers 24/7 remote electronic support for x-ray inspection service with its technicians all over the world, spanning training, spare parts, equipment upgrades, equipment reports, site acceptance testing and radiological training.
In addition to remote testing, training and troubleshooting, food and beverage companies have been able to participate in some remote and blended onsite/remote audits, as they work to comply with regulatory standards and requirements. Some agencies have extended certificates for up to six months, while others, like ISO, are offering remote audits as a solution for some of the ongoing restrictions. In the case of these remote audits, manufacturers need to test their communication technologies in advance to make sure they are working well during the audit and also provide a list of requirements beforehand, including HACCP plans and site documentation. They may also consider enhancing their current technologies with mobile, hands-free or drone systems, given the fact that at least blended audits will be part of the process going forward.