To address the unique food safety requirements posed by the protein and dairy sectors, Sparc Systems designed a unique pipeline x-ray solution to detect contaminants in vacuum filled and pumped products.
Combining accuracy and reliability, the hygienic Iris inspection system remains a top choice for food manufacturers worldwide.
One of the key challenges facing the food industry today is how best to maintain productivity while providing consumers with safe, uncontaminated products. Good manufacturing practice that complies with regulatory standards has shifted from addressing to preventing any physical hazards before they enter the supply chain.
Utilising x-ray technology, the Iris Pipeline inspection system is capable of identifying a variety of different physical hazards including bones, teeth, metal, glass, ceramics, and high-density plastic in muscle meats, slurries, semi solids, and fluids.
The high resolution of the 0.4mm X-ray sensor allows it to detect foreign materials with sensitivity levels that outperform any current technology. Depending on the application, the Iris Pipeline can detect metal down to 0.4mm.
Any product shown to contain contaminant on the user-friendly display screen is immediately rejected from the system before it is transferred downstream. A fully integrated, servo actuated rotary reject valve provides accurate and repeatable reject performance.
“This makes it fast and precise. Even though the Iris X-ray matches the speed of the pump, only a small amount of contaminated product is ever rejected,” explains European Sales Manager at Sparc, Charlie Graham.
Protecting public health
Maintaining the highest standard of hygiene is high on the agenda for any food manufacturer, particularly when handling meat and poultry products. No more so than now given the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Although there is currently no evidence that the novel coronavirus can be transmitted via food, transmission via surfaces recently contaminated with viruses is, nonetheless, possible through smear infections. Consumers are naturally concerned and seek further assurance that good hygiene practices are being adhered to, and manufacturers can help to allay these fears by taking steps to mitigate all cross contamination and physical risks.
Mr Graham notes that ease of cleaning is an integral aspect of the system’s design. “Pipelines can be inherently difficult to sanitise,” he says. “The Iris X-ray is completely different to anything else on the market as it has a magnetic centre piece which operatives can literally pull out, clean and reinsert.”
The latest FDA advice confirms that cleaning routines on frequently touched surfaces, including workstations, countertops, doors and equipment, should be maintained. But no additional disinfection, or special cleaning agents, is necessary. The same precautions for factory operatives that have symptoms like fevers and acute respiratory illness should be observed.
The Iris is also one of the only inspection pipeline systems Mr Graham has encountered to-date with a three-way electric valve that allows test pieces can be inserted into the product flow to provide a true performance reading. And, with zero boxed sections, fewer welded joints and drop through conveyors, the accumulation of product residue and water droplets on the units’ underside significantly reduces.
To further boost performance, Sparc fits all of its x-ray systems with 6mm thick steel sheeting. Whereas other suppliers are reducing the cabinet dimensions, the Iris’ steel sheeting is virtually double the thickness of other food x-rays on the market. Sparc engineers maintain that a heavier framework reduces vibration, which affects the reliability and performance of x-ray tubes.
As well as helping manufacturers to comply with stringent HACCP protocols and other food safety standards, a benefit of the system is that it addresses the issue of food waste. By inspecting pumped product and rejecting contaminants prior to packaging and processing, the potential for wasted packaging materials and product loss caused by the removal of contaminants after packaging is eradicated. It also ensures the reduction of expensive downtime and damage to downstream equipment.
Rather than using compressed air, the system features electric servo drives to facilitate faster inspection and accurate rejection, at the standard 200 ppm. These electric drives are also proven to save food factories £4,000 annually per line.
For fast set up and ease of use across mixed product lines, the Iris can be easily integrated into an existing rigid or flexible piping system or placed behind a vacuum filling machine, and is available in three models: 1 ½, 2 ½ and 6 inch. Average throughput for muscle meats, slurries, semi solids and fluids is up to 14,000 kg per hour for meat and poultry applications.