UK-based Spectrolab's new system, called Sentinel, is an automation system that the company claims can recognise and inspect products moving at high speed on a conveyor line for contaminants or any unwanted object at a rate of 10,000 objects per hour.
The new Spectrolab system has been specifically designed to process packaged food items. The company claims that the machine can be installed at the point of manufacture or at the point of packing at site and on line.
Attention to food safety on the production line has never been greater. Flakes or slivers from machinery as well as swarf or wire from sieves, cutters or foreign food particles can infiltrate the line at any stage during the production process, and new food safety legislation obliges food manufacturers to implement systems to safeguard the supply of food.
As a result, the demand for detectors has never been greater and the market is continually growing. The global detection market is estimated to be €2.7 billion, and increasing at the rate of 5 per cent per year. Europe takes up about €1 billion of the market, with the food industry a major customer.
Spectrolab believes that the Sentinel is fully capable of taking advantage of this market opportunity. The company says it is suitable for all online applications even those with random spacing, although versions are available for manual operation. It can detect a 1mm stone or metal particle in a food item such as a jar of jam in a tenth of a second.
It can also look through most packaging including metal and plastics and can even tell processors when bottle fill levels are wrong. Pure, high resistance non-ferrous and stainless steel metals have consistently posed the major challenge to standard metal detectors as they are difficult to detect through aluminium packaging.
The machine's simple design is based on an ultra fast combined X-ray source and CCD camera, plus easy to use software that can be programmed to recognise shapes or unwanted objects in practically any type of product.