With today’s stringent quality standards and high consumer expectations, food inspection systems have become an essential tool for detecting product contaminants. It’s a given that reputable manufacturers will triple-check that their products are safe and of the highest quality before they even think about shipping them out.
Maintaining these systems ensures you won’t distribute unsafe or low-quality food products, since an accurate and functional system will always detect dangerous foreign objects and quality check issues. But how can you best meet these industry standards?
Below is an informative guide on how to maintain a food x-ray machine to keep it in great working order for as long as your company needs it to perform reliably.
Understanding the Components of a Food X-Ray Machine
Most modern food x-ray systems feature a conveyor belt that glides products through the machine and down the assembly line. The specific design of the machine may vary depending on the type of product it scans. Nuts will be very different from raw meats.
However, every x-ray machine will send high-frequency electromagnetic radiation beams through a product to reach a target wall. The patterns of the beams reach the target wall after the product absorbs some of these rays. The resulting image appears on the connected screen, allowing food suppliers to quickly and accurately view the images and detect density differences.
Inconsistent densities within an x-ray image usually mean the product has a contaminant or packaging issue. Plus, these machines comply with federal safety regulations and don’t emit harmful amounts of radiation. That means your food products and plant employees exposed to these machines won’t have to face the damaging effects of radiation.
Knowing how to maintain a food x-ray machine takes all of this into account, including safety standards.
Regular Cleaning and Sanitization
Understandably, neglecting to clean an x-ray machine can lead to serious issues as well as unfavorable results when testing your products. Think about how many food products roll through an x-ray machine each day. Continuous operation without sanitizing the machine can lead to false rejects, which can cost a business huge amounts of money in product loss.
Why is cleaning so important? Food residue, stains, and bacteria easily build up on the conveyor belt as products roll through the machine day and night. However, when the x-ray images show an unusual shadow, you don’t want it to detect a mass of food crumbs, oil, or other contents around or underneath the product itself.
To avoid this scenario, it’s essential to remove the belt and meticulously clean both sides of it to remove any residue that can alter the images. Failing to clean the machine on a routine basis can also cause real contamination among food products. For instance, a frayed conveyor belt or some chipped resin might not seem like a big issue, but it could end up in the food or packaging if it continues to wear down during operation.
If you don’t sort out these issues promptly, you may find that you’ll need to discard the package to keep the contaminated item out of consumers’ hands. So, of all the ways to maintain a food x-ray machine, regularly cleaning the system is top priority for efficient operations. It also helps the machine last longer, saving money on early replacements.
Calibration and Quality Control Checks
Anyone who wants to know how to maintain a food x-ray machine will have to become familiar with calibrating it. The calibration process ensures the system captures accurate images.
- Maintain the machine’s accuracy and sensitivity
- Reduce false negatives or false positives
- Prevent contaminants from getting through the production line
Understandably, operators should also run basic quality control checks every time they calibrate the machine. Testing and realigning the beams, checking radiation exposure time, and adjusting the x-ray tube’s kilovoltage peak will enhance the machine’s performance. Keeping documentation and records also helps if you need audit references or legal proof surrounding your production process.
Proper Handling and Storage of the Machine
With the sensitivity of the technology as its main strength, how you handle and store an x-ray system can contribute to issues with its accuracy and performance. Every machine features a unique design that dictates how operators should use it. Failing to meet the manufacturer’s standards for storage and handling can cause significant system damage and lead to subpar results.
For example, keep a close eye on the environment where the machine operates when running x-ray images and powered off. You may need to monitor the indoor temperature and humidity level so that they don’t impact the machine.
Take the XE Economical X-Ray Inspection System, for instance. This machine is built to operate in temperatures ranging from 32°F to 104°F, and with a humidity level between 30% and 85%. If these conditions aren’t consistent, it won’t perform up to standard.
Are all employees in the production plant aware of what the food inspection systems need? Can they adjust the flow to avoid dangerous temperatures and humidity levels so that the food x-ray does the job it needs to do? These are essential considerations.
Troubleshooting Common Issues with Food X-Rays
If you’re wondering how to maintain a food x-ray machine that has been acting up, technicians recommend troubleshooting each issue before it has the chance to escalate. For instance, you might notice an issue with the conveyor that changes the speed of the line and results in inaccurate readings. Issuing repairs to this part of the machine as soon as you notice a problem is crucial.
Common problems also occur if your facility isn’t using the right type of system. Do plenty of research before buying a food x-ray machine so that you can purchase one that is ideal for your products. For example, if you manufacture large bags of pet food or flour, only a large-format x-ray system will be able to meet your production size and weight demands with pinpoint accuracy.
Training and Education for Operators
Knowing how to maintain a food x-ray machine is critical for every operator. Successful production plants will take the time to fully train their employees on these systems, teaching operators the proper way to run them as well as maintain them.
The easiest way is to have a trusted technician first set up the new machine and then thoroughly train every operator on its basic functions, including machine calibration. Modern technology likes to automate some of these functions, but it’s still important for humans to understand how the machine works.
If anyone needs additional help with maintaining the x-ray system, a certified technician can assist.
Don’t Forget Scheduled Maintenance and Service Checks
Like your car, which needs regular oil changes and service checks, a food x-ray system can’t take your production lines where they need to go without professional maintenance. Schedule routine maintenance checks to ensure the system is operating as it should and address any minor issues before they become major ones.
Why not get your plant employees to perform these checks and follow a detailed list of items, such as:
Sticking to a schedule for machine maintenance will also ensure optimum results.
Now that you know how to maintain a food x-ray machine, you can enjoy an efficient, contaminant-free production line to ensure every food product you distribute is of the highest quality. Delivering safe items to consumers is only possible when you have an accurate inspection system that checks each product for contaminants. Why not browse TDI Packsys for food x-ray inspection systems for your particular sector of the industry?