Explore this issueAugust/September 2012
The food industry faces unique challenges as it tries to protect product purity while handling materials in the most efficient, economical, and sanitary way during processing. With the food industry’s high purity standards, even the most minute particles must be completely extracted.
When materials are intended for human consumption, particles that would be allowable in end products for other uses can create a potential crisis if they are not detected and removed. To maintain product purity, effective strategies often include a combination of magnetic separation, metal detection, and/or X-ray inspection equipment.
When used properly, magnetic separation equipment can virtually eliminate ferrous metal contamination from dry and liquid products. In many cases, high-intensity permanent or electromagnets can remove 300 series stainless steel that has been abraded from equipment.
Magnetic separators are available in an extensive variety of designs to meet manufacturers’ precise needs. For optimum extraction results, the right equipment must be chosen for the job. Selecting the proper magnetic separator requires a thorough understanding of magnetic properties, the process application, and environmental elements that exist in the installation. Equipment should be chosen based on the materials being processed and the many application considerations.
Investing in a metal detector can safeguard against machinery damage, production downtime, and loss of product quality. In many operations, metal detectors are the last line of defense for contaminant detection.
With today’s advanced metal detection technology, it is possible to consider incorporating detection at several stages in a process, not just at the output. Metal detectors should be used anywhere and everywhere there is the chance that metal particles may contaminate a product stream.
Detection is especially critical in the food industry, as well as any other application where the product is one that may be consumed by humans or animals. When product purity is a safety consideration or when contaminant particles may be of a size and type that could damage downstream processing equipment, detection takes on a more crucial role.
Metal detection at the input point of a process is appropriate—and vital if the raw materials could be contaminated. Even if contamination would not damage downstream process equipment, contaminated materials result in a product that would eventually be rejected by detectors on the output side. Whole batches of product, along with the money spent to produce it, can be wasted as a result of undetected contaminated materials.
Detection and rejection of contaminated raw materials come at a small cost when compared with rejection of finished product. This principle applies equally to intermediate steps in the processing of a product—if the output of an expensive process step is susceptible to rejection for metal contamination, metal detectors should monitor both the input and the output of that step.
In situations where it is not an option to stop the process to deal with contaminated product, a state-of-the-art metal detector is equipped with an automatic reject device. The detector can also keep detailed logs for accurate and comprehensive record keeping.
X-ray technology complements metal detection and plays an important role in detecting metal contaminants and other foreign objects. This type of equipment is most often used in the food, pharmaceutical, chemical, packaging, and other sanitation-related industries.
For manufacturers utilizing foil packaging, metal detectors are not the ideal inspection solution. X-ray systems offer an effective method for inspecting these types of finished products. X-ray inspection systems can also ensure product and package integrity by reliably scanning for missing or broken products or pills, detecting metal contaminants and packing voids, confirming fill levels, and controlling product and package mass.