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Thermo Fisher Scientific updates X-ray system to meet customer demand

By Joe Whitworth , 01-Feb-2013

Thermo Fisher Scientific Xpert C400 X-ray system
Thermo Fisher Scientific Xpert C400 X-ray system

Thermo Fisher Scientific has added upgraded its X-ray source, drum motors and line configuration time on one of its detection systems.

The company said the new version includes an X-ray source with twice the power of the original model, compact sanitary drum motors and shorter line configurations.

The Xpert C400 X-ray system targets wet, semi-frozen products and metalized packaging structures that are not easily compatible with metal detection.

It detects metal, glass, dense plastics and other contaminants in packaged food.

The use of metallized film packaging or seals is growing fast because they offer a superior oxygen barrier, increase shelf life and enable better branding.  In turn, this has driven demand for X-ray inspection for the past five to 10 years,” Bob Ries, lead product manager, metal detection and X-ray inspection, Thermo Fisher told FoodProductionDaily.com.

“Because a wet product can have characteristics similar to non-magnetic stainless steel, detection can be poor with a metal detector. X-ray does not have this problem so in many cases 30-50% smaller metal contaminants can easily be detected.

Customer driven upgrades

Thermo Fisher Scientific said upgrades were customer driven to add flexibility or performance with shorter line configurations minimising footprint because more production can fit into a given space.

The X-ray power boost makes the system well suited for thicker, denser product and/or higher speed production.

The switch from metal detection to X-ray is accelerating due to HACCP improvements and emerging technology which enables additional/smaller foreign objects to be detected,” Ries added.

The drum is designed to improve safety and performance, minimize maintenance requirements and simplify sanitation by enclosing all moving parts and because the drum motor is part of the conveyor framework, the unit takes up less floor space, said the firm.

False reject issue

The sensitive detectors are available in multiple resolutions (0.8/0.4mm), and its suite of algorithms is designed to find small contaminants in complex images with minimal false rejects.

When asked why false rejects happen and how the machine deals with this, Ries said no detection system of any type is perfect.

The conditions around the system change so it must be capable of automatic adjustment or offer easy-to-execute manual modification.  In the case of X-ray equipment, large density changes due to product variation or packaging can cause false rejects. 

“Fortunately an X-ray system user can quickly see a picture of the offending false contaminant, adjust a software threshold to eliminate it, pass a test card to assure their standard is still met and start running again.  This process typically takes less than a minute, and once it is done a few times on a new line, the system typically runs without false rejection for days or weeks.”

The machine can analyze an X-ray image to estimate weight and fill or determine whether a packaged item has missing objects.

It was internally tested by Thermo Fisher to meet IP65 requirements for dust and washdown and operates over a wide 5° to 40° C temperature range.

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