Affordability was the early focus in X-ray inspection systems designed to replace metal detectors in food processor's packaging lines. Now suppliers are providing software refinements to detect missing or broken items and incorrectly filled packages as well as possible contaminants.
"We're trying to take these systems to the next step with software that not only can detect contaminants but also perform quality control functions, such as detect missing pieces," notes Erik Brainard, X-ray product manager at Loma Systems Inc., Carol Stream, Ill. "A lot of consumer complaints have to do with under counts, for example." Packers of specialty candies are seen as prime candidates for such systems, he adds.
All the major metal detection firms have come out with X-ray units in recent years. Early adapters of the technology have primarily been European firms, though U.S. baby food manufacturers and others are experimenting with X-ray units
Recently introduced software refinements for Loma's Axis X-ray equipment offers a broad array of inspection and detection capabilities in a standard package, eliminating the need for potentially costly custom software. PVC, stones, glass, steel and rubber are among the contaminants that can be detected, and several layers of product can be scanned to detect over/under filling and structural anomalies.