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X-ray inspection boosts QC

A leading producer of frozen gourmet desserts, Montreal-based Martin Dessert recently upgraded its quality-control efforts by adding X-ray inspection equipment to detect foreign objects that might find their way into the product.

Pw 12869 Martin

“A metal detector was no option, since 25 percent of our desserts are in aluminum trays or plates,” says company director Denis Martin.

After extensive comparisons among the systems available, Martin selected the Model X3 from Loma Systems. It’s located immediately after an automatic cartoner that’s used to carton each unit. Like others of its kind, the X-ray system can detect a variety of contaminants—gravel, glass, or stone—that metal detectors cannot, and it can find small pieces of metal within an aluminum tray.

What sets it apart, however, from comparable X-ray inspection machines is that its unique software analyzes each individual product independent of the preceding and following product. Each 0.8-mm pixel of data within the digital X-ray image has its density compared to the correct product-density characteristics. If density in the X-ray image is greater than it should be, that product is automatically rejected. As soon as the data is analyzed, it’s discarded and the process is repeated. According to Loma, this ensures accurate detection while eliminating false rejects.

In addition to finding contaminants, the X3 can detect missing or broken items and incorrectly filled packs. It’s important for the X-ray system to detect if a portion is missing, says Martin, “because we have 80 different products packed in boxes with varying unit counts.”

Martin also says he appreciates the system’s Ethernet connectivity, modem diagnostics, one-touch help screens, and improved operator interface features. “The modem diagnostic feature lets Loma work on the machine from a remote location,” says Martin.

Martin loads anywhere from 12 to 40 individual portions into a paperboard box. The box is put through a shrink wrap tunnel before being conveyed through the conveyor-mounted X-ray unit.

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