New X-ray food safety systems ‘cut jams and downtime’

By Mike Stones

- Last updated on GMT

It's curtains for jams with Thermo Fisher's new curtain-less X-ray food safety detection system, claims the firm
It's curtains for jams with Thermo Fisher's new curtain-less X-ray food safety detection system, claims the firm

Related tags Thermo fisher scientific

Two new X-ray food safety detection systems make the identification of contaminants quicker and more cost-efficient, claim the manufacturers Thermo Fisher Scientific and German manufacturer Heuft.

The new Thermo Scientific EZx 465 Touchless X-ray system, unlike traditional x-ray detection systems, eliminates the shielding curtains used to block radiation. “Heavy lead or no-lead curtains frequently prevent lightweight products such as metalized snack bags, from being conveyed through the x-ray chamber, resulting in production line jams and downtime,”​ said the firm.  

For example: gas-flushed metalized snack bags don’t have enough weight to push through the dense curtains.

Also, unwrapped products, such as frozen meals in foil trays, cannot be passed through shielding curtains due to hygienic concerns and the potential to create a cleaning mess.

Bob Ries, the firm’s lead product manager, metal detection and x-ray inspection, said: “Depending on the application area, we’ve seen product flow seriously impacted by x-ray shielding curtains as much as 20% of the time.”

Inspection chamber

But the EZx 465 Touchless X-ray system eliminates the need for shielding curtains by conveying the product through the inspection chamber via a series of small slopes. The unit also features an aperture with reduced height to ensure that x-ray scatter does not escape from the system’s inlet or outlet areas.
Ries added: “Because x-rays only travel in a straight line, the angles and aperture height we’ve created eliminate x-ray scatter that might leave the system. The conveyor belt is also slightly tacky to ensure products stay in place during the slight upward and downward slopes.”

The EZx 465 Touchless X-ray system is available with a 400mm wide belt. The system can handle products 65mm in height. Maximum belt speed is 100m per minute.
Meanwhile, a modified version of Heuft’s eXaminer XB has been designed to check the integrity of filled flow packs, thermoform packaging, pouches, composite packaging and unpackaged solid food.

The new design is said to offer a better view of the transport and inspection sections during continuous operation. It features a plexiglas hood over the conveyor and simplified access for fast cleaning and maintenance.

Automatically adjustable guide rails are said to ensure optimum alignment of the product to be examined and the ability to integrate rejecters to remove defective products.

Foreign objects

The device uses pulsed radiometric measurement to detect foreign objects and product and packaging faults.

"In contrast to conventional X–ray devices, the eXaminer XB emits only an X–ray flash, lasting a thousandth of a second, the moment the product is in the inspection area,”​ according to a statement from the firm. “Because of this, the radiation exposure is, on average, 100 times lower than that of the classic line scanner.  The short exposure time prevents motion blurs – the result is maximum clarity and precision when detecting faults.”

Also, empty runs during production stops are eliminated and large gaps between the individual products made unnecessary.

The top-down inspector checks up to 1,000 products per hour for completeness, intactness and all types of foreign objects, said the firm.

 Prices of both systems depend on specification.  

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