In food manufacturing, efficiency is key in reining in costs and maximizing production. Paring down equipment is one way to boost production and cost efficiency, and can be done with advanced x-ray inspection systems used to find and reject foreign bodies and also conduct important quality checks like checkweighing. An x-ray system with inline checkweighing capability not only measures the weight of packaged products, but can check for important product attributes like placement, presentation and portioning, saving manufacturers resources including cost, time and footprint.
Why use two or more machines when you can use one?
For the production of some consumable items, particularly products with consistent density, using one piece of equipment that performs checks for both safety and quality is more cost efficient. Running separate x-ray machines and gravimetric checkweighers adds time and expense. Determining the correct amount of mass and weight through x-ray absorption offers several advantages over conventional checkweighers that use gravitational pull to measure gross weight, from the ability to measure separate compartments of a package to getting accurate measurements not affected by environmental factors like vibration. Such advantages are especially pivotal in industries with tight margins, where seemingly minor giveaways or product irregularities can pose major problems.
Eagle’s x-ray technology with SimulTask PRO software examines the density of the product, which is used to calculate the total weight. Such advanced x-ray systems with inline checkweighing provide real savings to manufacturers:
- Equipment cost savings: Instead of purchasing, installing, running and maintaining separate pieces of equipment to detect contaminants and conduct checkweighing, a manufacturer can use one x-ray inspection system that offers both (and more) functions. High-performing x-ray inspection systems do double duty, detecting and rejecting contaminants and simultaneously checkweighing packages.
- Footprint savings: By reducing the space needed for equipment, an x-ray system that detects contaminants and performs checkweighing and other integrity checks frees up floor space for other systems or processes.
- Labor savings: It takes fewer employees to operate one x-ray inspection system with software-enabled checkweighing than it would if additional checkweighers were placed on the line.
- Savings on loss and giveaway: X-ray systems can detect proper zone weights and fill levels within a package, reducing overfills and underfills and preventing unnecessary product loss or giveaway. X-ray systems allow for improved quality control that often means the difference between profit and loss. For instance, a doughnut manufacturer can ensure the right amount of jelly filling by using an x-ray system that calculates the accurate mass of jelly, a task that could not be done with a conventional checkweigher that only calculates total weight.
- Detection accuracy and system efficiency: Also saving time and resources, inline checkweighing via x-ray machines allows manufacturers to determine more than just gross package weight, providing insight on product placement and presentation and the proper inclusion of required components. Take, for example, a bakery product packaged with an icing packet. While a checkweigher would provide an overall package weight for such a product, it would miss an icing packet that is not present. An x-ray system, on the other hand, can assure the presence of all components and alert users to irregularities. Errors like that add up in customer satisfaction, brand reputation and cost.
Product line efficiency and cost-efficiency is also bolstered with the use of x-ray systems for food inspection that produce a precise weight count at higher speeds than gravimetric checkweighers. In addition, x-ray systems are not impacted by vibrations and other environmental issues that often cause challenges with gravimetric checkweighers and slow down production.
For a side by side comparison of x-ray inspection equipment and inline checkweighers have a look at this infographic for more information.