More than USD 10 million – that was the cost of every second food recall according to the results of a joint industry study by the Food Marketing Institute and the Grocery Manufacturers Association in 2020. However, that only covers direct costs, which include the additional work costs, as well as the outlay for notifying supervisory bodies, supply chains and consumers, recalling the relevant product batch, storing and destroying the affected goods and the cost of the unsaleable product batch itself.
Legal requirements guarantee product quality
An even more significant factor than the direct financial damage for manufacturers is the loss of trust among consumers, who may change their purchasing behaviour after recall campaigns and then resort to buying goods from competitors. If retailers remove products with a damaged reputation from their range entirely, the manufacturers in question may be placed in a critical financial situation in the worst-case scenario.
This risk also exists for producers of dairy products, so it is therefore in their own interests to ensure their production processes are safe and to protect consumers’ health as effectively as possible. Because of this, extensive national and international standards have been defined to make food production processes safe and minimise health risks. The key legal requirements include HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points), GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative), the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards, the International Food Standard (IFS) and the protocols of the British Retail Consortium (BRC).
Weighing and inspection solutions as a critical control point in production
To eliminate potential physical, chemical and biological hazards in their production processes, dairy product producers and their plant constructors use reliable detection technologies that meet these standards. Metal detectors, X-ray inspection systems and checkweighers are often used to ensure products are made faultlessly. Continuous product testing and certification procedures guarantee compliance with numerous national and international standards, concepts and regulations.
There are two key applications in the dairy industry: Firstly, the detection of foreign objects: It is imperative that no foreign objects, contaminants, residues, additives, bacteria, fungi, pests or parasites get into foodstuffs, so they must be detected safely in order to reject the goods in question before delivery. Depending on the application, metal detectors or X-ray inspection systems are the ideal tools to accomplish this. The second application is fill quantity control: checkweighers or X-ray inspection systems are often the method of choice for identifying incorrectly filled products. Minebea Intec offers producers of this industry and OEM manufacturers of dairy-based food production plants an extensive range of systems that provide a safe, precise solution – for every application.
Metal detectors: safely identifying foreign objects
Metal detectors are a reliable method of finding metal pieces made from ferrous metals, steel or stainless steel and non-ferrous metals, such as aluminium, in food and dairy products. These systems generate an electromagnetic field between a transmitter coil and receiver coil. The receiver coil contains two coils, which are mounted symmetrically to the transmitter. An electromagnetic field is generated and balanced between these two coils. During the inspection, the field changes measurably – compared with uncontaminated goods that do not contain metal – if metallic foreign objects are found in the products being examined.
With its tried and trusted Vistus® series metal detectors, Minebea Intec has a versatile solution for safely detecting metallic foreign objects in food in its product range. In addition to their exceptionally high detection performance and reliability, Vistus systems all have a broad frequency range and come in a wide variety of versions and sizes to provide the perfect design for every scenario. For example, the systems Vistus, Vistus RS, Vistus Freefall and Vistus Pipeline provide different options for inspecting products on conveyor belts and free-flowing and pumped goods, safely detecting any metals present. For maximum user-friendliness, the Vistus solutions, which are made from high-quality components, contain interface options tailored to different user groups, allowing the system operation to be customised to the user’s needs.
The side shooters in the inspection systems Dymond S and Dymond D X-ray guarantee reliable horizontal inspection using single- or double-beam technology
X-ray inspection systems for extra detection performance
The possibilities offered by X-ray inspection systems are much more diverse than those of metal detectors, as they allow a wider range of materials to be identified. Besides metallic contamination, these devices also find impurities such as glass, rubber, stones and even certain types of plastics. This method is frequently used in production applications for dairy products and many other foodstuffs with very strict quality requirements, for complex tasks or in packaging where metal detectors cannot be used due to elements such as metal films.
X-ray inspection systems from Minebea Intec not only detect foreign objects, but can also check weight, the number of product components, fill levels or the seal integrity of packaging, depending on the model. Because of this combination of process safety and quality control, these systems give users significant added value and help to reduce production costs.
Minebea Intec has developed the series Dymond and Dylight for X-ray inspection, with a range of different versions. There are three models in the Dymond product group that are suitable for precise inline inspection of packaged dairy products: Dymond Bulk, Dymond S and Dymond D.
Dymond Bulk guarantees precise X-ray inspection for bulk materials in the dairy industry and features extremely high detection sensitivity, intuitive operation and built-in high-performance interfaces allowing easy integration into existing networks. As with all of its systems, Minebea Intec offers Dymond Bulk users global customer service and expert remote support to provide fast solutions in urgent cases.
Dymond D and Dymond S, on the other hand, are designed for inspecting upright goods such as milk bottles or yoghurt pots: the side shooters in the Dymond D series guarantee reliable horizontal inspection with numerous added quality assurance functions. Simple integration and installation and fast cleaning thanks to the clever hygienic design make Dymond S absolutely ideal for use in all areas of food production.
Dymond D models use double-beam technology, i.e., two X-ray beams and the corresponding detector configuration. This multi-sided radioscopy ensures every type of impurity is detected reliably at high inspection speeds, even in tricky or blind areas. These X-ray inspection systems from Minebea Intec are extremely cost-effective because they are easy to integrate and install and are implemented in line with hygienic design requirements.
The X-ray inspection system Dylight guarantees optimal reliability for examining packaged dairy products. It is a true plug and play solution so it can be installed and integrated easily into existing networks by hand. Dylight combines a range of functions in one compact unit, taking up just one metre of space in the production line. Yet with a separator and run-off container, it has all the required mechanical elements for efficient use. It offers intuitive operation, saving time for employees and therefore improving cost-effectiveness in the production of dairy products.
The checkweighers in the product group Flexus can be supplemented by add-on options, such as a metal detector Vistus
Fill quantity control: maximum efficiency through exact weighing
To ensure packaging is correctly filled with dairy products, the use of either a checkweigher or an X-ray inspection system is recommended. The choice between the two solutions depends on the requirement profile as well as the quantity to be inspected and the required accuracy.
When it comes to complying with legal standards, there is no substitute for a checkweigher, which is the tool of choice for verifiable weighing in accordance with the German Packaged Goods Regulation. Checkweighers weigh products precisely and also support high belt speeds. Infeed and outfeed belts must not influence the weighing result at high speeds and require sophisticated conveying technology. Weighing in the millisecond range requires high-precision weighing technology. This also features a stable, vibration-free construction which is solid but also accessible for fast cleaning processes. Use of a customised checkweigher Flexus® with possible process speeds of up to 3 m/s provides a range of efficient and reliable options. As a multi-lane solution, the checkweigher even offers simultaneous check weighing and ejection on two to six lanes.
Along a production line, checkweighers have the task of removing incomplete or over-filled products from the product flow. Different models are available to the user depending on the specific requirement profile. Besides high-precision, high-speed solutions such as Flexus, Minebea Intec also offers affordable models: the checkweigher series Essentus can be tailored to individual application profiles thanks to its versatile options. In addition to use in the dairy industry, Essentus checkweighers are also suitable for applications in the production of other food products as well as in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries and many more. Customers get exactly the right checkweigher for their application. Combinations offer great cost-cutting potential.
The fill quantity can be determined using X-ray inspection systems too – although this is done by analysing a greyscale image, which gives a good indication but does not provide the same accuracy as a weighing system and so is no substitute for a checkweigher. These models are also suitable for identifying the ratio between several different components in the product, where there is a significant difference in the radiopacity and thus the shades of grey. This ensures the desired composition is achieved.
Another advantage of X-ray solutions is the high speeds they permit, as products do not have to be spaced far apart – in contrast to checkweighers: inline quality checks can be performed with models such as Dylight, unlike with checkweighers. For example, this includes weight calculations, where the mass of a reference product is used as a guide, or the detection of differences from other products. With X-ray inspection solutions, it is also possible to count components (by determining the density, it is possible to establish whether or not the products contain the correct number of individual components), detect missing or defective products (through an image of the density) or monitor fill levels by determining the mass.
Expert partner in system planning – for every point in the production process
Whether vertical or horizontal X-ray inspection systems with a single or double beam, metal detectors, checkweighers or perhaps a combination of different products are the ideal choice depending on the task in hand as well as the shape and packaging of the dairy products to be inspected. With their proven solutions for the dairy industry, Minebea Intec fulfils the requirements of both producers and OEM integrators. Minebea Intec provides all end customers with cost-efficient complete solutions in essential areas, from a wide range of hardware to suitable software tools for applications like statistical process control, through to expert service. In addition to this, OEM integrators benefit from customised solutions which can be adapted to their exact needs and specifications and enable reliable, safe and economic processes. Minebea Intec’s many years of experience and expertise help ensure that dairy products are produced safely and expensive recalls are avoided.