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'X-ray inspection system is versatile, reliable'

07 April 2010

End of line inspection and contamination detection has become increasingly difficult for the food industry as metallic packaging, especially for ready meals, is more widely used

Despite the problems, a reliable and versatile method of automatically detecting and rejecting products containing both metallic and non-metallic contamination is essential to meet the demands of BRC, HACCP, IFS and other national and international regulations and minimise the risk of brand damaging product recalls. The only viable method of detecting such a wide range of contaminants is to use X-ray technology.

There are still some concerns about the use of X-ray systems in the food industry and the latest RAYCON meets these concerns by setting new standards of detection, radiation protection, and system safety. S+S X-ray specialist, Franz Penn says, “When properly used, the X-ray scanner is totally safe, for both the operator and the products. Actual values are many times lower than statutory limits and EC directive 1999/2/EC expressly permits the use of X-ray systems for contaminant inspection, even for eco food."

The RAYCON X-ray system from S+S Inspection has been developed over a number of years and now incorporates the latest X-ray imaging and image recognition techniques to reliably detect both metallic and non-metallic contamination including, glass, ceramics, stones, raw bones, and some types of plastics, even in aluminium and other types of metallic packaging. In addition to contamination detection, the RAYCON will detect product defects ranging from flavour clumps and entrapped air to missing or broken components. The latest image processing software even allows “desired” contaminants, such as aluminium end clips on sausages, to be masked out.

Unlike most other X-ray detection systems, the S+S RAYCON has the X-ray source mounted under the conveyor to ensure that even products approaching the maximum height allowed are fully scanned. The system is controlled by a built-in industry standard, high performance PC running the QNX real-time operating system to provide auto-train and multi-product specification storage using an intuitive graphical user interface on a touchscreen 12“ LCD monitor.

In the auto-train mode, the image processing system is trained to recognise a good product by passing a known, perfect product sample through the machine so that a template can be stored in memory. In operation, the system automatically rejects any product that deviates from the template. In addition to the simple machine stop and alarm on detection, the RAYCON can be fitted with a range of pneumatic and mechanical automatic rejection methods.

The S+S RAYCON is available with conveyor widths of 300 mm and 400 mm to suit products up to 400 mm wide and 200 mm high at up to 600 items per minute. A range of input and output connections and an Ethernet interface allow the RAYCON to be integrated with existing and new production lines and production control systems. The optional Remote PortalTM allows data backup to a central computer and remote monitoring and maintenance from any PC with an Internet connection.


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