Baking & Snack - August 2018 - 126
closely collaborating with other vendors and doing
extensive in-house testing before the equipment is delivered to the customer," he said.
Advancements toward zero defects
Over the years, end-of-line inspection systems have improved drastically, and innovation continues. Computers
get better and faster every week, and software systems
advance even more rapidly in comparison.
"We're constantly striving to create better algorithms,"
Mr. Gidman said. "There's great opportunities for advancement, especially in hardware. New technology
from the chip level has allowed us to transmit and receive with greater precision at the coil structure. Ten or
15 years ago, we couldn't possibly imagine this because
we could never afford it, so that's been a huge step up."
Mr. Kehrli said he's also seen improvements specifically
with vision-based camera systems. "It's incredible how fast
systems can now see imperfections with a baked good and
reject it," he said. "We've done some businesses of 800 snack
cakes per minute per wrapper where our third-party supplier has been able to detect a problem, by using its camera
technology, and remove it from the system."
Perhaps the most important development with inspection equipment, as Mr. Gunnell noted, is with
X-rays, which used to be more expensive and didn't pick
up as many safety hazards. "Hard inclusions like shells
and rock have always been something that safety people
try to eliminate, and there are some real advances in
X-ray technology that are helping to improve the ability
to sense a walnut shell or something similar in a package
that they couldn't before," he explained.
Although X-ray systems won't pick up aluminum very
accurately, they will detect other types of metals. And as
X-rays get cheaper and more flexible, Mr. Kehrli said he's
seen more bakers rely on them. Not only can these systems measure bulk density, but they can also see things
that metal detectors were not built to find. "Take one of
our customers, for example," Mr. Kehrli said. "If you go
into that bakery, and you're holding a Bic pen, that's a
big no-no. They want you to go in with a metal pen and
nothing plastic because if it falls into a mixer and gets
ground up, it could go through the entire system and
get into the food stream and through the metal detector.
We're seeing more and more people taking X-ray more
seriously because it will pick up that plastic pen."
For bakers and snack producers, it's about seeking
100% safety combined with speed. "Obviously, our customers' intent is for absolute zero-defect quality levels,
and we're always striving to improve that," Mr. Gidman
said. "And, of course, the smart processors use this as a
way to remove contamination and measure the performance of the entire process."
126 Baking & Snack August 2018 / www.bakingandsnack.com
Taking inspection equipment upstream
allows a bakery to filter out tiny contaminants that might be missed down the
line. A piece of metal, for example, could
go through the production line and get
smaller and smaller with each step. And
by the time it reaches packaging, it could
become undetectable, even by a metal
detector. These pieces would be easier
to spot upstream where there's greater
"There are often better places to
achieve excellent sensitivity compared
with the final product, which might have
packaging that's limiting the performance. Upstream is often the place
where we can get two or three times the
performance level," said Steve Gidman,
president, Fortress Technology. "There
is a better opportunity to identify where
the source of a potential problem may be
if there are several units throughout the
line, especially when adding ingredients
at different points or doing a different
process such as slicing or baking."
For example, if a product's packaging uses metalized film, but the company prefers to use a metal detector,
the machine would typically be placed
just ahead of the packaging equipment
for quality and safety, according to Bill
Kehrli, vice-president sales and marketing, Cavanna Packaging.
Baking and snack companies have to
watch that upstream inspection equipment is doing its job to eject contaminated products; they must be aware that
too many filtered products is not only
an issue in and of itself, but it can also
produce challenges for packaging down
"The packaging systems are very repeatable. In one regard, upstream product inspection increases our efficiencies
because it removes the bad products
before reaching packaging," Mr. Kehrli
said. "However, if we're removing too
many products, it creates an inconsistent flow to packaging and causes
additional failures or interruptions in the