The results were achieved using a triple-beam ScanTrac Fermata 4 inch pipeline inspection system at a US-food company, which can operate at speeds up to 500 gallons per minute.
The firm did an A/B test using an x-ray machine inspecting the final product, this gets the best possible inspection resolution because it is looking at the final product in smaller quantities than the bulk product traveling through the pipeline.
They placed the normal fermata in the pipeline feeding this line and analyzed how many bones were found in the final product and ran the same test with a triple beam fermata in place of the fermata in the only change in test conditions.
Triple beam benefits
When the single beam fermata was replaced with the more powerful triple beam system, 60% fewer bones in the final product were found.
They collected three months of data to ensure the two test runs included enough data to have a statistically valid test.
The US food company has permanently installed the machine, which was launched late last year, on their production line.
Allan Anderson, president of InspX, told FoodQualityNews.com that the basic idea of triple beam is to examine the inspected product from three separate views.
The left and the right beam are 90 degrees apart and the center beam bisects these two beams.
Bone fragments are typically small and asymmetric in shape so the triple beam X-ray architecture helps because multiple dimensions of the contaminant are presented for inspection.
The images are independently analyzed to help analyse irregularly shaped containers.
Real world data
Anderson said that while they do factory testing of machines, they need to validate factory tests with real world data.
“We needed three months of field data to get large enough data sample to be sure that we had a valid test, there are many different permutations regarding the shapes of bones on a production line and so we needed to account for factors like that in our analysis.”
The triple beam design has an advantage where irregularly shaped contaminants are found - glass and bones tend to be the most common types of inspection.
The machine is similar to the Trio Triple Beam glass inspection system which has been in the market since 2011.
Anderson said foreign material in any food product can pose a significant health and safety risk.
“Product recalls can be exceptionally expensive, not only in terms of the wasted product but also in terms of the brand damage to the manufacturer. Inspection equipment used as part of a comprehensive quality control problem greater lowers recall risk.
“When contaminants are detected with an x-ray inspection system at a plant, the root cause can be identified immediately which means that the amount of contaminated product is minimized.”