The safety of consumers is of paramount importance to both manufacturers and retailers in the food and beverage sector. Not only is there a responsibility to protect those who purchase goods, there is also a fundamental need to protect the brands that encourage those consumers to the stores, and indeed the stores themselves. A number of high profile product recalls have made the international press in recent years, which has highlighted not only the costs involved with such an event in terms of recalling the product in question, but also the crippling damage that can be caused to the reputations of both producer and seller. For this reason, more and more major retailers are demanding their suppliers use x-ray systems for food inspection at critical control points (CCPs) as part of their HACCP programs.
It is not ideal to be told by a retailer that you must invest in a technology. However, for manufacturers around the world it is becoming clear that, in order to meet the food inspection requirements necessary to win business and increase profits, x-ray technology is the obvious choice. Some retailers will flat out refuse to do business with manufacturers not operating x-ray systems, as they require reassurances that product sent to them for sale to the general public is as safe as possible. By making the decision to invest, manufacturers are putting themselves in a strong position to retain existing contracts, and also at a competitive advantage to win new ones.
The initial capital investment in x-ray systems for food inspection has often been a stumbling block, but when taken from a Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) perspective the technology is very cost effective due to increased efficiencies. The ability to detect a wide range of contaminants, such as mineral stone, calcified bone, metal, glass and some rubber and plastic compounds , is complemented by the ability to perform a number of other quality control checks. Fill level inspection, mass measurement and component counts can all be carried out simultaneously, and all functions are performed in line – meaning 100% of product can be inspected with no reduction in production speeds.
Many consider x-ray systems for food inspection to be complex, and perhaps a little daunting, but while the technology is highly sophisticated, this does not mean the systems are difficult to operate. Advanced x-ray systems are equipped with intuitive user interfaces, making the operational side of things very straightforward – both in terms of training and ease-of-use on the line. In addition, the systems are designed to be easy to clean and maintain – enabling operators to focus more time on production. Overall, the benefits of installing x-ray systems for food inspection are significant with very little downside. The inspection systems allow manufacturers to improve process efficiency, at the same time provide outstanding quality products that meet the needs and requirements of an increasingly stringent marketplace.