5 Tips to Ensure Optimal Product Inspection

Food & Beverage
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Setting up an x-ray system on your production line, as a critical control point, is a valuable asset. Discover 5 tips to prolong the life of an x-ray machine to ensure optimal product inspection and maximize the return on investment.

Consistency is Key When it Comes to Material Handling

In an ideal world, your production line would be perfect. Your packages would be centered on the conveyor belt, with the exact same distance between products. There would be no wobble or tilt when they passed through the x-ray system. The x-ray system, conveyor and each individual food product would be immaculately clean. In this world, any x-ray system would take the perfect picture and detect contaminants in your packages each and every time.

However, in the not-so-perfect world, you face challenges with accumulation at staging zones, rejects, redirects, diverting and rework stations. You may also have in-feed and product spacing concerns due to increasing the load on your production line to meet manufacturing goals.

Operating a product inspection system that has the ability to adapt to variations in speed and packaging type without compromising quality standards for product inspection will assure that you receive reliable, accurate results. Modern x-ray machines are capable of simultaneously handling products of different sizes, shapes and packaging, as well as adapting to multiple lanes. Furthermore, some x-ray systems allow for upgrades, enhancements or the implementation of additional features to meet your unique production needs.

Believe It or Not, it’s Not All in the Equipment

You should start by knowing your contaminant and where to find it. It’s essential to identify the highest probability location of the contaminant in the package. Your supplier’s application knowledge, experience and training will help you select the right inspection beam angle to maximize detection and choose the optimal energy type to find the contaminant. If you know what you are looking for, software tracking tools can even help you identify anomalies in production.

Eagle’s SimulTask™ PRO is a customizable software that can be tailored to your specific product applications with the flexibility to evolve with the ongoing demands manufacturers face. Combining best-in-class physical machine design with multiple generator and detector configurations, and SimulTask™ PRO software, you get the best solution with superior inspection results for your production line.

In addition, working with a reputable inspection partner can ensure that you and your staff are trained properly and get the most out of your system. Technical service agents should be able to provide you with support and guidance relating to your needs, from basic knowledge on how to use and maintain the machine to radiation safety training.

Understanding the full capabilities of your x-ray system turns your machine into a complete product inspection system. X-ray is more than just foreign body detection! It can also perform a wide range of in-line quality checks such as counting components, identifying missing or broken products, inspecting seal integrity and checking for damaged packaging. Additionally, by assessing fill levels, the system helps you avoid over- or under filling products. This leads to less waste and a reduction of costs on overfilled products, as well as avoiding noncompliance with labelling requirements.

Clean, Clean, Clean!

In the food processing and manufacturing industry, maintaining high hygiene standards is essential. Even more so in meat, poultry or seafood processing facilities where the need for robust equipmentcapable of withstanding harsh washdown environmentsis mandatory. As mentioned earlier, a clean x-ray unit, conveyor and product greatly improves the accuracy and efficiency of your product inspection equipment. But don’t worry, cleaning x-ray machinery doesn’t have to be a pain. Hygienically constructed systems make the sanitation process painless with convenient louvers and easy-to-remove belts.

The washdown cycle can be very time consuming, however hygienically designed machines can help ease the process of cleaning, maximizing uptime and optimizing output. Some product inspection systems, for example, are constructed with thick, stainless steel plates, cut and welded together, to ensure easy cleaning and improved sanitization by eliminating food debris collection points. Furthermore, hygienically constructed x-ray systems have an easy-to-remove belt where the conveyor lifts up with the quick release of a lever. Operators can then easily access crucial areas inside the machine, an operation which can take up to 20-30 minutes with other systems, leading to undesired downtime, reduced productivity and financial setbacks.

Regular Performance Checks can Significantly Increase Your Productivity

Being reactive just won’t cut it for long-term performance. You must consider proactive support. Many suppliers offer Preventative Maintenance Agreements to help ensure that your equipment is maintained in its best operating condition. Discounted term programs are available to suit varied service needs and are designed to eliminate unplanned maintenance and emergency repair services.

Performance programs may also include software upgrades to guarantee reliable, accurate detection for years to come thus increasing your return on investment. You will get the benefits of the latest developments and enhancements to increase production and keep your x-ray system up to date, maintaining its performance over its lifetime.

Advanced technology with documenting capabilities can serve as proof of quality and integrity for your product. It provides due diligence in the event of a product recall, when it will then be necessary to prove that food safety precautions were taken during the manufacturing stages. So, preserve your investment, increase productivity and comply with food safety guidelines by keeping your x-ray system in tip-top shape while keeping unplanned costs down.

Don’t Forget About Spare Parts and Extended Warranties

Did you know that certain parts of an x-ray system are prone to routine wear and tear? Mechanical moving parts, protective parts and even keyboards can wear over time. What about critical parts to keep your investment running? In the event that something was wrong with your x-ray system, you should know what to do and where to go for spare parts to get your line up and running as soon as possible. Do you really have the time to wade through the red tape of ordering, scheduling a service technician and shipping? Just imagine how much it could cost for a simple replacement item when you factor in labor and travel costs. Not to worry! You can work with your technology provider and their service specialists in advance to determine the parts that are essential for stock.

Many suppliers offer replacement items bundled at a substantial discount. With in-stock availability of the most commonly used parts, your internal operator will be able to quickly and easily replace the part, which will reduce production line downtime. Be proactive! Have these spare parts kits on hand to increase uptime and overall production efficiencies while cutting costs.

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