WHEN SIDE DISH MANUFACTURER Shiloh Foods was reevaluating its HACCP program, it was also undertaking a new product launch. Up until that point, the company had been packaging its mashed and sweet potatoes, broccoli and cheese, corn pudding, squash, and carrot souffl?asserole side dishes in either paperboard or plastic containers and had been relying on pipeline metal detectors to detect metal fragments.
“Once we decided to add foil trays to our product line, that’s when we turned to X-ray technology,” said Ken Kreider, vice president of operations at Shiloh. The catalyst was a new bread and potato-based dressing product line that could not be mixed or agitated, but instead, had to be ladled into the foil trays.
Since many of side maker’s ingredients start off as agricultural products, small pieces of contaminants such as gravel, glass, stones and dirt clumps sometimes find their way on to the processing line. Metal detectors do not have the capability of identifying those types of contaminants, but X-ray inspection units do. In addition X-ray technology can find small pieces of metal within a metallic or aluminum tray.
Shiloh decided to install a Loma AXIS unit which uses .8 mm linear array technology to scan product up to hundreds of times per second as it passes through the aperture.
When placed together, these “slices” form an X-ray image and create a data matrix on X and Y coordinates for analysis. When an abnormal density characteristic is detected, it is highlighted on the live X-ray image and the system automatically rejects the product for further operator or quality assurance analysis.
Shiloh has been running all of its products–not just those in foil trays–through the Axis X-ray unit. The packaging mix for the product line consists of 2-, 4.5-, 5- and 7-pound foil trays; and 1- and 3-pound sizes in either plastic or paperboard containers. The trays vary in size from 8- to 13-inches long and 6- to 11-inches wide.
The Loma unit features Intralox conveyor belting. The design of the unit also offers maintenance cost-savings for Shiloh. “All you have to do is clean the belt at the end of the shift,” Kreider explains. “We’ve experienced quite a bit of cost-savings when compared to our pipeline metal detectors which require more labor intensive sanitation.”
In addition to the non-food, agricultural field particulate, the unit is also able to detect product clumps such as salt and sugar which were not properly blended during the processing stage.