August 09, 2018

10/08/2018: Metal detectors versus X-ray

by Fortress Technology, Toronto, Canada
Food processing inspection technology: Three system comparisons to consider 

Fortress Technology tackles the equipment options in the most widespread food and packaging application scenarios, cuts through the confusion on the pros and pitfalls of metal detectors versus x-ray and highlights the importance of arming yourself with all of the facts to make an informed decision based upon the most prevalent contaminant risks.

In some applications, it is obvious which type of inspection technology to opt for, since only one of them can reliably detect the contaminants that pose the risk you are trying to mitigate.

However, it’s not always as straightforward. The two technologies will often succeed or fail depending on two different sets of criteria. Success with metal detectors tends to depend on the materials involved (the product, the packaging and the contamination), while x-ray detectors are more likely to be affected by other parameters such as the shape of product and the mode of transport through the unit, in addition to density differentials.

Putting this into context, x-ray systems cannot generally be used on free-falling products because of the inconsistent density within the falling product stream. This rules them out of many bagging operations, such as vertical form fill and seal (VFFS) lines. Meanwhile, if stone, glass, high-density plastics or bone poses the biggest risk, a metal detector will obviously be unable to spot them. It is, however, worth noting that even an x-ray system will only be able to deliver reliable protection against these non-metallic contaminants under certain conditions.

This leaves many applications in food and packaging open to interpretation. Faced with making a choice about which technology to invest in, Fortress provides three impartial pointers to help make the decision-making process less of a minefield.

1. Cost comparisons
The upfront financial expense of installing new equipment is naturally a major consideration, yet so can ongoing maintenance costs, which contribute to the total cost of ownership over your equipment’s life span.

Metal detectors are typically less expensive up front. What’s more, the price differential between metal detectors and x-ray systems increases incrementally according to the size of the aperture. For smaller units the difference in upfront cost may not be a deal breaker if investing in x-ray, but it may become insurmountable if a physically bigger system is required – for example if checking whole chickens rather than chicken nuggets.

Energy consumption contributes to ongoing costs. The difference here depends mainly on whether the x-ray system requires cooling systems, such as fans or air conditioners, which drive up energy consumption. In contrast, metal detectors are designed to be more robust in extreme environments, e.g. freezers, wet processing plants such as fish packing, and when dry ingredients are prevalent, such as flour in bakeries and food manufacturers that use or pack spices and seasonings.

Read the full article, HERE.

The Global Miller
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