Demand for convenience foods is driving the need for product inspection technology allowing food producers to make different products on single lines in shorter product runs.
Manufacturers are also under increasing pressure to improve overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) of their production lines, according to Mettler Toledo.
Enhancing OEE can be done through reducing downtime on product changeovers; only rejecting contaminated product; increasing equipment reliability; proactive maintenance; and optimising equipment set-up.
Multiple product inspection
Jonathan Richards, marketing manager, Mettler-Toledo Safeline Metal Detection, said there is strong demand for its Safeline Profile Select variable frequency metal detector, due to its ability to inspect multiple types of products on one line.
“To our knowledge, no other detector has a feature that allows manufacturers to select a single setting level that also maximises the sensitivity capabilities across a range of products.”
The Profile Select’s Product Clustering Function allows food producers to run processing lines at optimal speeds, as they can use a single detection frequency setting for groups of multiple products with similar moisture content.
Wet or high moisture products
‘Wet’ or ‘high moisture’ products such as meat, poultry, jams, cheese, seafood and ready meal applications exhibit a signal which can be detected by a metal detector even when completely free of metal contaminants.
This is called ‘product effect’ and is brought about by the level of salt, moisture or acid content within the product, said Richards.
“Mettler-Toledo Safeline Metal Detection has designed its Profile Select metal detector to overcome these challenges through utilising variable frequency technology,” he said.
“The technology allows the machine’s detection frequency to be adjusted in small 1kHz increments, ensuring that tiny alterations can be made to mask out the ‘product effect’, while maximising the system’s detection sensitivity.”
Profile Select’s software allows machine operatives to select from a menu of pre-set product settings, simplifying product changeover process and minimising downtime.
“The Product Clustering Feature enables food manufacturers to use a single detection frequency setting for groups or 'clusters' of products with similar moisture content, increasing 'ease-of-use' by removing the need to change the metal detector settings during product changeovers,” he said.
Tuned Frequency machines have to be calibrated by system suppliers during their construction to match a specific set of product types being produced.
This reduces the flexibility of the production line to adjust to newer more varied product types, said Richards.
“Variable Frequency metal detectors, such as Profile Select, offer a level of future proofing, because the manufacturer has greater flexibility to vary the range of product types and then change the detection sensitivity levels to suit.”
Richards said demand is not industry or geographically biased but is based on where manufacturers are seeking to export products and expand their business and the need to comply with international food standards.
Opportunity was coming in emerging markets in the BRICMT countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, Mexico and Turkey).
“An increasing number of food producers from these markets are looking to export to European and North American markets, but to do so, they have to comply with stringent food safety legislation” he said.
“The Profile Select offers them the high detection sensitivity required for compliance with European and North American guidelines while also offering them the flexibility to process a range of product types for different international markets.”