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Article | June 30, 2001
X-rays develop in packaged foods
United Kingdom-based plants of Nestlé, Unilever, and Thorntons Plc are among the first to use an enhanced Advanced X-ray Inspection System (AXIS) to inspect trayed salads, wrapped baked goods, and packaged candy, among others.
These AXIS applications were uncovered at a press event held May 30 at Loma Systems (Carol Stream IL). Loma revealed much about its AXIS X-ray technology as a way to inspect packaged products by weight count and product integrity. For example during a demonstration a multicompartment snack tray was automatically singled out for only including five rather than six crackers in one of its compartments.
Thorntons in Alfreton Derbyshire automated a hand-packing operation for boxed chocolates by adding pick-and-place units. Throughput was faster and cheaper than before but not as accurate Packaging World is told. To remedy the situation it updated its AXIS system in February '01 with new software that detects missing chocolates within a box. Another benefit Thorntons receives compared to metal detection systems is that the X-ray system can see through the individually foil-wrapped chocolates to also check for contaminants.
This value-added inspection capability comes by way of Loma’s enhanced onboard software. The software analyzes the individual items or zones within a package that’s detected by the equipment’s diode array. That’s after the row of 0.88mm sq diodes scans a package at up to 800 times/sec as it conveys through the aperture. Unlike the metal detection systems that Loma also sells X-ray systems can detect the presence of pieces of glass rubber product clumps and certain plastics including polyvinyl chloride.
While Loma’s current X-ray systems are priced around four times that of its metal detectors the company believes prices will eventually come down to the two-to-three times range thus making them more attractive as a complement or alternative to metal detection and machine vision systems.
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