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Combo unit improves process control

Based in Duluth, MN, Luigino's, Inc. has made its Michelina brand frozen pastas and entrees big sellers across the country. At the firm's Jackson, OH, plant, a packaging line that went into production last fall uses a Loma 7000 Combo, an integrated metal detect-ion/checkweighing system.
FILED IN:  Machinery  > Inspection  > Checkweighers

"For our operations metal detection is not optional" says Michael Banovetz Luigino's director of engineering. "We calibrate the metal detector on the Combo for trace metals as small as 2.5 mm." The checkweigher is calibrated for ±0.25 oz. Packages are rejected for underweights only. "Giveaways are not currently a problem" says Banovetz. "We control giveaways by measuring yields versus ingredients and so far that's working well for us. But we do plan to get into more sophisticated processes down the road." The 7000 Combo will help ease the way into such processes says Banovetz. "That's one of the features I like" he adds. "As we get further into programs like statistical process control this unit should be able to grow right along with us with no substantial changes." On the line Luigino's full dinner products are packaged in compartmented cook-in paperboard boxes at 120/min. After particulates and sauces are deposited the boxes supplied by Westvaco (Newark DE) pass through the Combo before being lidded and sent to case packing and freezing. Among the process control improvements that Banovetz is implementing is to make the two product depositors in the line capable of adjusting their fills on the fly. It's a matter of having them automatically recalibrated based on weights the checkweigher measures. This is being done through a hardwired data communications link between the checkweigher and the two fillers. Although weighing and metal seeking are two distinctly different functions the 7000 Combo provides single-console control. Its single calibration protocol for both functions reduces set-up time although separate calibration is available if required. Results are displayed on the console's vacuum fluorescent readout. Data also can be downloaded to the unit's internal printer for easily generated management reports showing standard deviation giveaway number of production runs number rejected overweights metal contaminants and so on. Set-up is menu-driven and it offers multi-level password security to prevent unauthorized personnel from having access to data. A 30-product memory is well suited to the wide range of Luigino's products. The 7000 Combo shown here is the most recent of five to be installed at the Jackson plant. "I didn't make the original decision on Loma equipment" says Banovetz. "And as with all machines we've had our problems from time to time. But Loma supports the unit both in the field and from their offices. "I'm not easy to please" he adds "but I've been satisfied with the performance of the machine and the company."

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