Have you ever wondered what quality control or quality assurance truly means when it comes to overall quality management of food? The two terms are often used interchangeably referring to the actions performed to ensure the quality of a product, but there are distinct differences between the two.
Although they’re closely related and both encompass aspects of quality management, quality control and quality assurance are fundamentally different in their focus. Quality assurance is process oriented and focuses on defect prevention. Quality control is product oriented and focuses on defect identification. Let’s explore both terms in more detail.
Quality Assurance in the Food Industry–Defect Prevention
Quality assurance (QA) is a set of activities for ensuring quality in the processes by which products are developed. It’s a proactive process and aims to prevent defects by concentrating on the process used to make the product. The goal of QA is to improve development and test processes so that defects don’t arise when the product’s being developed.
QA can be achieved by establishing a good quality management system and assessing its adequacy. What’s more, everyone on the team involved in developing a product is responsible for quality assurance.
Quality Control in the Food Industry–Defect Identification
Quality control (QC) is a set of activities for ensuring quality in products by identifying defects in the actual products produced. It’s a reactive process and aims to identify (and correct) defects in finished products.
QC can be achieved by identifying and eliminating sources of quality problems to ensure customer’s requirements are continually met. It involves the inspection aspect of quality management and is typically the responsibility of a specific team tasked with testing products for defects.
So, in light of these explanations, does food x-ray inspection equipment provide quality assurance or quality control in the food industry?
The answer is both!
Food X-ray Inspection Equipment Provides Quality Assurance and Quality Control in the Food Industry
The ability of x-ray inspection systems to provide unsurpassed detection of a wide range of physical contaminants including metal, glass, mineral stone, calcified bone, high-density plastics, means they can be used to keep contaminants out of the production process, as well as catch contaminants before products leave the factory. It simply depends on where they’re located in the production process – the critical control points (CCPs). To learn how to determine where to best place these critical control points on your production line watch this short on-demand webinar.
Because x-ray inspection machines can be used at various control points on a production line, its installment can strengthen both quality control and quality assurance for a manufacturer. X-ray systems that are most commonly found at the end of the production line are used to identify defects before products are dispatched and sent to the retailer or distributor. In addition to inspecting for physical contaminants, systems are widely used to perform additional quality control checks such as measuring mass, counting components, identifying missing or broken products, monitoring fill levels and inspecting seals for food entrapment.
X-ray inspection equipment installed earlier in the production process can inspect the product before being processed such as raw ingredients, bulk-flow (loose) products or pumped products. When used at one of these critical control points, the machines help provide quality assurance by preventing defects in final products.
Capture Data for Compliance & Better Decision Making
Leverage information with data and images captured at several stages of the manufacturing process. X-ray systems powered by advanced software, like Eagle’s SimulTask™ PRO and TraceServer™ can drive continuous improvement by providing greater operational visibility and access to all inspection information in one centralized database.
SimulTask™ PRO image analysis software is the basis for our reliable ‘set and forget’ line of x-ray inspection systems. This customizable software can be tailored to your specific product application, and the intuitive auto-learn user interface simplifies product set-up to facilitate changeover, reduce downtime and impart flexibility on the inspection process. SimulTask PRO’s image processing algorithms provide the highest greyscale range of up to 65,535 values, which means you will see deeper contrast and subtle differences in the high-resolution inspection images of food on you production line.
TraceServer™ software seamlessly records the x-ray inspection processes, which in turn contributes to your ability to meet established internal quality standards. By tracking production through every stage, this intelligent software provides companies with due-diligence capabilities to enhance product traceability and overall quality assurance. You can easily access information, such as the number and type of rejected items or items that don’t meet product quality standards.
Eagle’s x-ray technology benefits both QA and QC. The ability to store large amounts of data means our inspection equipment can provide quality assurance by identifying trends and bettering overall traceability of incidents that could occur on a production line and instigating preventive actions. X-ray systems aid quality control by inspecting food for contaminants and other quality defects before faulty product reaches the end consumer.
For example, Dure Foods used Eagle x-ray inspection equipment for QA by tracing all their products along their production line and further used x-ray technology for QC to ensure contaminated product never left their plant, ultimately improving their overall quality management program.
Contact us if you’d like to speak to an Eagle expert about your application and improving your quality programs with x-ray product inspection.