Selecting an x-ray machine that meets all food safety and quality control standards is imperative for any major food manufacturer. You must make sure that you end up with a product that will ultimately keep consumers safe without compromising your plant’s productivity. How can you make the right choice for your packaging factory?
Learn how to choose a food X-ray machine that meets your needs with these eight tips. Once you’ve narrowed down exactly what you’re looking for, explore the many inspection systems from TDI Packsys. Our products can enhance your food production and comply with safety standards and regulations.
Analyze Your Food Inspection Needs
Before conducting any research on how to choose a food X-ray machine, consider your exact needs. What kind of food products do you distribute? Do you have a history of finding certain contaminants, like stones, within the packaging?
Make a list of everything you want to prioritize during the food inspection process. This could include boosting productivity and efficiency, limiting food waste, and detecting contaminants that appear frequently in products. For example, it wouldn’t make sense to get an X-ray machine that primarily checks for foreign materials in nuts, fruits, or other harvested goods if you mostly package items like cookies or other processed snacks.
Once you pinpoint everything you need from a food inspection system, you can dive into the research process with a clear set of criteria. Use the remaining tips to further clarify your search and buying decision.
Finding the Total Cost (Initial and Maintenance Costs)
If you want to know how to choose a food X-ray machine that fits your budget, don’t just look at the sticker price. The upfront cost is, of course, a major factor in your decision, and you’ll want to opt for a machine that aligns with your budget. However, you also need to consider additional maintenance costs for the life of the machine.
As a manufacturer, you can’t ignore the routine maintenance and calibration of your x-ray systems. Otherwise, the machine can malfunction and either misidentify foreign objects or slow down business production. In severe cases, you could suffer a total system breakdown and need to replace the machines regardless of whether you have the funds for a new one.
Factor in the average maintenance costs that a single machine requires and add it to the upfront price. This gives you the best idea of how much you can expect to pay for your system in order to get the most reliable use out of it.
Consider the Different Types of X-Ray Machines
Before selecting an x-ray system, you must familiarize yourself with the different kinds of food x-ray systems available. Each of these machines offers its own advantages and drawbacks, depending on your needs. This primarily comes down to what products you are scanning and the specific contaminants you want to detect.
The aptly named single-energy X-ray systems use just one energy spectrum to detect food contaminants. They identify dense materials like calcified bones, glass, and rubber. However, their efficacy mostly centers around foreign materials that have a significant difference in density from the product they’re embedded in.
On the other hand, dual-energy X-ray systems have better detection capabilities for low-density contaminants. The two energy spectrums that these systems use can identify foreign objects in packages that feature products of varying textures and densities. It would be ideal to use this type of machine if your business distributes boxes of cereal, granola, or mixed nuts.
Other inspection systems cater to the size of the product. These large-format X-ray inspection systems work best for suppliers that produce heavier packages. For example, a manufacturer of bulky bags of dog food would likely use this type of machine for their product inspection since the large system could easily accommodate the large bags.
If you want to know how to choose a food x-ray machine, you need to know the different types of systems on the market and how each system’s features fit your inspection requirements.
Features That Match Your Requirements
You have an idea of what your ideal food X-ray machine needs to do, but make sure you consider these factors in your search. Not every machine will check off all of your boxes, so look for one that meets your most important requirements. Doing so will help your business succeed and stay ahead of industry standards.
What’s the point of investing in a high-tech food inspection system if it can’t accurately pinpoint the specific contaminants you’re looking for in the product? Machine accuracy is critical for any food manufacturer looking to improve their product. A machine that fails to detect contaminants can endanger your customers, lead to widespread product recalls and waste, and make your business the target of legal repercussions.
Keep in mind that certain machines detect items like glass, metal, and rocks, but cannot detect low-density objects like hair, wood, or insects. The overall accuracy of a machine may depend on the most common contaminants a food supplier sees and whether the X-ray is built for that type of object detection.
It goes without saying that safety is an essential part of the food packaging industry. Not only do you want an inspection system that makes your products safer for consumers, but you also want one that protects your employees. Considerations to keep in mind are the radiation doses that a machine emits and the safety measures that need to be in place for anyone operating these machines.
Many X-ray systems on the market today are safe to use and don’t leave traces of radiation in food products. Federal regulations play a part in making sure that no radiation affects any of the food that goes through an x-ray machine.
Ease of Use
Are you looking to improve the production line at your packaging plant? Perhaps you want to cut down on your resources and assign fewer workers to your inspection system. Consider looking for a machine that is simple to use and requires minimal training for operators.
Research the amount of training that a machine entails as well as any automation features. This may have a huge impact on your decision, especially if your plant has limited workers available to operate it.
Finally, the reliability of a contraption is a key factor in choosing a food X-ray machine. No matter what kind of features your inspection system has, it needs to be reliable and help your business rather than hurt it. This can improve your productivity rather than hinder it and lead to slow product distribution.
How To Evaluate the X-Ray Machine’s Accuracy
A food x-ray machine must comply with federal regulations and feature a design that supports accurate object detection. As long as you find a reputable source for these machines that meets FDA standards, like TDI Packsys, you can take comfort in knowing that it can accurately detect harmful, high-density contaminants.
The FDA’s Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) protocols require annual calibration of x-ray systems and calibration for every new product the machine needs to learn.
However, every manufacturer needs to understand that these machines need routine maintenance and calibration to remain accurate. In addition, you should expect that any machine cannot detect all contaminants, like wood or hair, with 100% accuracy. This does not mean that the X-ray machine is inaccurate, but rather that the foreign object is too low-density for the technology to detect.
Maintenance and Support Options
Your food X-ray system will need routine maintenance in order to work at its best. Keep this in mind while weighing your options, and inquire about the technical support that a product’s manufacturer provides.
At TDI Packsys, we help manufacturers get the most out of their inspection systems by offering calibration and technical support services. Many of our machines come with an automated calibration function to make maintenance effortless for you. However, if you need extra assistance, our technicians can quickly meet your staff onsite, inspect the system, and offer support and training to your x-ray operators.
Selecting a machine from a supplier that doesn’t offer any maintenance plans or support can put you in a tough spot, especially if your onsite employees aren’t familiar with the technology. Do not overlook this during your research process because it can make a difference in how you address any technical issues with your X-ray system.
Warranty and After-Sales Service
Ask any manufacturer how to choose a food X-ray machine with minimal risk, and they’ll tell you to look for a system that comes with a warranty. The last thing you want is to spend money on a brand-new system only to have it break shortly after with no warranty. This crucial piece of information protects your budget in the event that the system malfunctions.
Along with a reasonable and guaranteed warranty, you can research any services that a supplier provides after the sale goes through. This includes either remote or onsite technical support, part replacement, certified testing, and more. At TDI Packsys, we pride ourselves on offering extensive after-sale support, including a 12-month warranty on parts, 24/7 availability for technical support, and even annual support plans that feature discount pricing on bundles.
Conforming to FDA X-Ray Standards
Complying with federal regulations set by the Food and Drug Administration is the biggest issue for any food supplier. If you want to know how to choose a food X-ray machine, the final tip is to make sure it conforms to FDA standards. This largely means that the system is safe and doesn’t emit harmful radiation into a packaging plant or a food product itself.
While this is crucial for meeting minimum safety standards, experts recommend that your job site implement Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points as well. HACCP protocols put public safety at the forefront of the industry and aim to protect consumers from harm. The first part involves hazard analysis, which identifies all the potential chemical, physical, or microbiological contaminants that may be present in the packaging plant.
Implementing critical control points is key to minimizing potential contamination risks. This process involves coming up with controls that you can apply to either eliminate or prevent food safety hazards. One of these controls may be a food X-ray machine that identifies foreign objects in your product.
Consider all of these tips for how to choose a food machine, and you’ll be able to narrow your options. Our TDI Packsys team specializes in high-quality food inspection systems and offers a range of products that can suit any food supplier. To learn more about our products and services, contact us today.