In most cases, product is being inspected anywhere from 100-200 feet per minute in an environment that is wet from the product and periodic washdowns, creating a challenge to keep the conveyors moving and transporting product day in and day out. Like the design of the X-ray generator and detector assembly, the same rigor must be applied to the material handling and reject sortation system.
Other external influence factors around the machine such as floor and adjacent machine vibration and cold air handlers that can cause significant changes in temperature as they cycle on and off can impact machine performance, so it’s important to consider the surrounding area to mitigate those external influences before finalizing the machine placement to ensure a successful installation.
Benefits of Hygienic Design
It may be obvious to say, but the more hygienic the design the less the risk manufacturers have of an event occurring where the machines themselves contribute to it. When considering equipment purchase, customers should be encouraged to sit down and review the designs and to carry out their own scoring. If there is no set method of scoring within their business, the guide previously referred to from the Foundation for Meat and Poultry Research and Education and found on the NAMI website is easily accessible and can be invaluable in the decision-making process. An educated customer—particularly when it comes to the principle of hygienic design—will see the benefits of procuring a system that has been designed specifically for its environment. Of course, many customers are aware of what’s required already, but sometimes there is a preconception that inspection technologies need a “hall pass” when it comes to hygienic design and that there must be a compromise to achieve the desired inspection results to the detriment of the hygienic element. This is not always the case, as a system designed from the ground up to the specification can meet most of, if not all of the check boxes required. Just because it’s an inspection technology doesn’t mean there should be a compromise on standards.
Machines built to strict industry standards are designed to minimize and eliminate harborage areas where product can accumulate and create a microbiological risk, but the design must also be very operationally-centric, providing methods for user operation, maintenance, and cleaning. The continuing challenge to manufacturers is to define what is the right amount of hygiene and sanitation for their specific operation and environment while still being profitable, protecting the consumer and the brand while complying with governmental standards and regulations. Needless to say, when most consumers are shopping for dinner they don’t understand what it takes to produce a pound of ground beef—not least to produce it and still only charge $3.99 a pound, make a profit, and stay in business to continue to produce enough to meet future demand.
IP69 Doesn’t Guarantee Hygienic Design
Although hygienic design is paramount in the meat and poultry sector, due to the raw element of the product and the frequent washdown requirements in the harsh environments, the food sector in general is making it much more of a priority.
Things such as ease of cleaning are very important, as is ensuring there are no areas that could trap contaminants or microorganisms, and these challenges should be addressed at the initial design stage. Part of the process for sanitary and hygienic design is making sure the machines are easy to inspect once cleaned to ensure the process has been carried out completely. The latest systems enable line of sight inspections that do not take long at all—leading to further time and therefore production savings.