Minimize Overweights to Maximize Profits

KYLE THOMAS, STRATEGIC BUSINESS UNIT (SBU) MANAGER AT EAGLE PRODUCT INSPECTION

17 December 2018

Inaccurate weights can and do happen in food production, given the fact that manufacturers do not want to sell products that don’t meet increasingly stringent packaging standards. While eliminating overweights may not be achievable or desired in some products, minimizing giveaway can save product loss and, ultimately, save money for food and beverage companies in industries with already-thin margins. Advanced x-ray inspection systems featuring inline mass inspection, which provides checkweighing functionality, can be used to minimize overweight packages while also providing important information and images that add even more value for manufacturers.

When it comes to putting products into packages, hitting the bullseye every time may not be a reality in today’s fast-paced manufacturing environment, but the mark should at least be on the board and preferably, in one of the inner rings.

Food manufacturers often put excess amounts of their respective product into the package to ensure that finished products are not below the required weight; after all, no company wants to be in a position in which their products are found to be underweight during an audit, or worse yet, by the consumer. Those can be costly errors, from fines to damaged brand reputation to significant line disruptions.

Although manufacturers want to ensure they are compliant with fair packaging standards, they can stay within required tolerances and also stay more profitable by maximizing their inspection systems to rein in excessive, costly overfills.

The question to ask yourself then is, “What does it take to get peace of mind?”

Advanced inspection systems answer that important question and add value to the manufacturing process because such equipment can be used to detect contaminants, as well as to perform quality checks like mass inspection, fill level and component count, among others. X-ray systems with inline mass inspection, which performs a checkweighing style of operation, optimizes the process to prevent product loss and giveaway that adds up over time.

Take pasta production, for example, a pasta company might be consistently putting too much product into its boxes, a giveaway that adds up quickly. However, the company also wants to ensure it is always compliant with fair packaging standards.

Through current routine sampling of production, the customer currently has set the overfill value at 10 grams per package or a target weight of 460 grams. If the company is running 1 production line, 1 shift per day at 65% uptime efficiency (or OEE) with a rate of 200 packages per minute, the planned product giveaway would be a staggering 13,728,000 grams (13,728 kilograms or 30,265 pounds) per year! That’s enough to fill an entire semi-truck full of product!

By using the mass measurement with checkweighing functionality, SimulTask™ PRO image processing software, inspects each package for its mass and provides the weight feedback to the filler in order to make adjustments and fine tune the process. This can lead to a tightening of production variability and a reduction of the package target weight leading to less product waste. Further, overfilling can also lead to package integrity issues evident at the point of sale, with bulging or broken packaging. By reducing the amount of extra product going into that box, you can lower product loss, produce more finished product with the same raw material, reduce package integrity issues and ultimately save costs and reap more profits.

To see for yourself when, how and why inline mass inspection for checkweighing functionality as part of an x-ray inspection system makes sense from a cost and operational standpoint, watch this webinar.