How Do Food Checkweighers Work? Your Complete Guide

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sealed frozen food products on top of machine

Manufacturing consistent and compliant food products involves ensuring that every product’s weight matches the weight displayed on the packaging. Instead of manually weighing each product that goes through the assembly line and recording the weight reading, you need a device that automatically checks the weight of each product and notifies you of discrepancies.

Food checkweighers have become integral to the manufacturing process since their invention in the 1950s. But how do food checkweighers work, and are they necessary for your business? Here’s what you need to know about these machines.

How Do Food Checkweighers Work?

Food checkweighers combine ultra-precise hardware with intelligent software to check the weight of food products. These machines work very quickly, processing each product within a matter of seconds. During that time, they rapidly complete each of these steps.

Product Feeding

First, a conveyor belt feeds the product into the checkweigher machine. Positioning the food checkweigher adjacent to your production lines ensures the seamless flow of products into the machine.

Weighing Mechanism

box of tomatoes in conveyor of checkweigher

Checkweighers use scales that consist of load cell sensors. These sensors precisely pinpoint the weight of a packaged product and then convert that weight into an electrical signal.

Comparison to Target Weight

The machine sends the electrical signal containing the weight of the product to its internal computer. Then, the machine displays the weight on a screen and compares it to a pre-programmed target weight.

Your company has total control over the acceptable weight range for each product. You can make this range as small or as large as necessary to ensure your manufacturing business’s compliance with legal guidelines.

Sorting and Rejection

After comparing the collected weight to the target weight range, the checkweigher determines whether to accept or reject the product.

These machines often use green, yellow, and red lights to indicate whether the finished product falls into the acceptable weight range. If the measured weight is in the appropriate range, the machine will display a green light. If it is slightly off target, the machine will use a yellow light; if it is completely out of range, it will display a red light.

You can program the machine to take specific actions when items fail the weight check. For example, you may move an underweight product to a different conveyor belt for inspection.

Data Collection and Analysis

Modern food checkweighers use internal memory and computers to store data about product weights. They can analyze weight trends and help your business identify and solve ongoing discrepancies with item weights.

What Types of Food Products Can Be Inspected Using Food Checkweighers?

woman choosing packed chicken meat in supermarket

How do food checkweighers work within different manufacturing processes? The benefits of checkweighers span virtually every food manufacturing industry. These machines are ideal for all of the following types of food products.

Packaged Goods

In theory, all of the packaged goods within a product line should weigh approximately the same amount, and that weight should match the weight displayed on the package. Checkweighers verify the accuracy of these weight labels.

Meat and Poultry

If you sell meat and poultry by the package instead of by the ounce, food checkweighers ensure that the weight reading on the package matches the weight of the cuts of meat inside.

Dairy Products

This technology can help with quality control for cheeses and other non-liquid dairy products that you package by weight instead of by volume. They can also identify weight discrepancies in items that are the same volume, like gallons of milk, to identify potential quality concerns.

Ready-to-Eat Meals

Ready-to-eat meals should meet uniform weight standards to ensure that every packaged meal contains the exact same amount of food and reflects the weight on the label. Food checkweighers verify the weight of the package within your production line.

Confectionery Items

Packaged desserts need to match the weight on the label for compliance guidelines and to ensure the accuracy of nutritional information.

Common Applications of Food Checkweighers

boxes of food in production line

Checkweighers give you valuable data about your food products that you can use within several applications in your manufacturing business. Here is how food checkweighers can work for your business.

Quality Control

Verifying the weight of each product that passes through your assembly line is just one of several steps in your quality control process. Products need to be of uniform weight, size, and volume if you sell them at the same price.

Compliance and Verification

The food manufacturing industry must meet strict regulations for product weights. A few weight guidelines from the FDA include:

  • Manufacturing companies must use good-quality laboratory equipment to measure or weigh their food products.
  • Each set of weight measurements should be determined using the same methodology and under the same conditions.

Food checkweighers let you pinpoint the exact weight of each product and ensure that no underweight or overweight products make it out of your facilities, ensuring your compliance.

Product Sorting

Food checkweighers let you automatically sort food products into different categories by weight. You can program your machine to divert products onto separate conveyor belts depending on their measured weight and whether they fall into the appropriate range or not.

Packaging Line Integration

You can integrate modern food checkweighers directly into your packaging line. The checkweigher can communicate an item’s weight to the labeling technology, allowing the labeler to print the exact weight of the product onto the package.

Traceability and Data Logging

Because checkweighers have internal memory, they give you a record of weight data that you can refer back to should any problems arise in your production line. You can verify weeks or months down the line that a batch of products met your weight standards.

Product Recalls and Quality Assurance

If your checkweigher identifies that a batch of products is consistently overweight or underweight, you’ll instantly know that you need to halt production and look for quality issues causing the disruption.

Why Is Accurate Weighing Important in the Food Industry?

Accurately weighing food products during manufacturing:

  • Ensures that the labeled weight matches the actual weight
  • Allows you to accurately price products
  • Lets you quickly identify quality problems causing weight discrepancies
  • Ensures the taste and quality consistency of your food products

How Accurate Are Food Checkweighers?

The highest-quality food checkweighers measure weights down to a tenth of an ounce. For reference, the FDA requires you to display item weights in terms of pounds and whole ounces (i.e., 1 lb 8 oz).

Are There Any Legal Requirements for Using Checkweighers in the Food Industry?

The FDA requires you to accurately label products by weight. The weight marking displayed on a package must closely match the item’s correct weight. While an item can be slightly over the labeled weight limit, it should not be under, as this could indicate that you are misleading customers into purchasing less of a product than they intended for the same amount of money.

TDI Packsys: Your Supplier of Reliable Food Checkweigher Machines

If you’re looking for a modern, trustworthy food checkweigher to use within your production line, TDI Packsys has you covered. Our full-color touchscreen checkweighers utilize high-sensitivity scales that ensure extremely accurate weight testing. We’ll also provide ongoing support to ensure that your machines keep meeting your company’s goals long-term.

Contact TDI Packsys today at 877-834-6750 to speak with our sales department and learn more about how food checkweighers work in your business.

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