Metal detection upgrade enhances HACCP program

Detection system delivers contaminant prevention for a variety of products and flexible packages with high confidence and consistency.

VARIETY PACKS. George J. Howe Company distributes its candy, coffee, and nut products in a range of packaging structures and sizes.
VARIETY PACKS. George J. Howe Company distributes its candy, coffee, and nut products in a range of packaging structures and sizes.

The George J. Howe Company, located in Grove City, PA, packages and distributes a wide variety of quality candies, freshly roasted coffee, and many nut products. The business operates company-owned routes and also engages independent operators to distribute these products to markets ranging from the Ohio Valley to the New Jersey shore. Customers include mass merchandisers, grocery chains, and independent stores. The products also are available on-line (

In order to meet and exceed HACCP (Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points) safety and quality specifications for its retail and wholesale customers, GJH decided to expand and upgrade its metal detection operations. Within the past two years, the company has purchased four new metal detector/conveyor systems from Lock, a part of the Loma Systems group, to adhere to strict food safety and hygiene standards.

Lock Insight C5 Waferthin, Insight HD, and Insight VF metal detection systems all are equipped with OPTIX DDS software. These compact, high-efficiency systems feature user-friendly operation and auto-learn mechanisms. Metal detection and signal processing take place in the Integrated Digital Search Heads. Sophisticated OPTIX detector management software uses Lock’s unique DDS (Direct Digital Signal) vector diagram to generate detailed product profiles needed for optimum product setups and detection of both magnetic and non-magnetic particle contaminants.

Dan Phillips, GJH President and COO, notes, “Our packaging web widths currently run from 9.5 inches up to 16.5 inches. This gives us a broad enough range in bag sizes to accommodate all of our current candy, coffee, and nut line needs. We mainly use three different kinds of film for our candy products—a 48-gauge PET/ADH/150g clear LLDPE, a 160-gauge clear OPP film, and a 380-gauge AB/adhesive/100g cast PP. For our coffees and nuts, we use LQ/I/48-gauge MPET/ADH/PE preformed metallized pouches. The Insight VF is used for the detection of metal contaminants during the handling of free-falling materials before they are deposited into the preformed metallized pouches.”

GJH’s two main film suppliers are Plastic Packaging, Inc. of Charlotte, NC and Horizon Converting of Washington, IN. To accomplish the form/fill/seal and fill/seal operations, GJH uses a range of machinery, manufactured by Hayssen, Ilapak, TNA, and General Packaging.

Phillips adds, “Most of our labels are supplied by Alpine Packaging of North Versailles, PA, Label Print Technology of Mogadore, OH, and Label Gallery of Norwich, NY. Our blow-on tamp labeling equipment is supplied by EPI Labelers, a company who has done a wonderful job for us.”

GJH Production Supervisor Scott Cornelius, says, “Our company’s 52,000-square foot facility houses several production lines that handle several different candy, nut, and coffee products and packaging formats. Contaminant prevention is our major concern. We evaluated the technologies and capabilities of several companies and selected the Lock Insight metal detection systems. They are highly sensitive to contaminants, and we also were impressed with the OPTIX DDS (direct digital signal) software, which is engineered to deliver perfect product/package set-ups and display real-time visual representations of what is happening on the inspection lines. In addition, the attention the Lock sales rep provided to us was superior.”

Lock recommended Insight HD IP54 detector heads integrated onto 60” conveyors. Lock also recommended a 10” Insight C5 Waferthin metal detector to inspect nut products before they are packaged in foil-based pouches. Mounted on casters, the detection systems are ideal for rapid product/package changeovers and can be moved easily from line to line. Cornelius says, “With three different floors dedicated to production, metal detection system flexibility definitely played a role in our purchasing decision.”

Currently, GJH is operating three Insight HD metal detectors for packaged products along with an Insight C5 Waferthin detection system for pre-packaged nuts. Cornelius notes, “Service has been excellent. The Lock technical staff was available to assist in the installation and set up the systems and for training our staff on their operation. The whole process was seamless.”

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