Orval Kent, one of the largest producers of prepared salads for foodservice customers in North America, helps maintain its stellar reputation by taking food safety seriously. At its plant in Linares, Mexico, where fruit salads are made, every package passes through an x-ray inspection system prior to being shipped. To maximize detection sensitivity and uptime, the company recently replaced its older x-ray system with Mettler-Toledo Safeline's PowerChek x-ray system.
"For customers like Costco, Sysco, airline companies and others, maintaining the highest product quality and food safety is critical. These customers rely on Orval Kent and we rely on our Safeline x-ray system. The machine allows us to guarantee our customers will not receive contaminants in our products," says Adalberto Salce, plant engineer at Orval Kent's Linares facility.
Orval Kent produces more than 80 different types of fruit salads, which are packaged into 4- and 8-lb PET jars and 1-, 3- and 5-lb flexible pouches on five filling lines at the Linares plant. All products from the five filling lines go to a single shipping line where they are inspected by the PowerChek x-ray system prior to case packing.
"Food safety is a hot issue today. Consumers are more aware of the consequences and producers need to comply with higher expectations. At Orval Kent, we produce salads that are as fresh as possible while being as safe as possible," notes Salce. "The Safeline x-ray system helps us achieve the highest product quality. It detects metal, glass, plastic and other types of foreign material and removes contaminated product from the production line."
"We considered metal detectors but the x-ray system was the better choice for us for several reasons," explains Salce. "The x-ray system enables us to inspect for non-metal contaminants such as glass too, which allows us to achieve the highest specifications. It offers consistent inspection even with the natural variations in the conductivity of our products. Since the x-ray system can be used after we've sealed the PET jars with foil, we can inspect at the end of the line where there is no risk of subsequent contamination.
"The PowerChek x-ray system is one of the nicest machines I've ever seen. It is easy to use," Salce says. "Changeover is accomplished in about 30 seconds on the color touchscreen control panel—no mechanical changes are needed.
"Calibration is easy because it's fully automated," Salce continues. "The system is password protected. Operators, supervisors and engineers all have different levels of access so we can be sure it's set up properly."
Using a vertical single beam, an electronically controlled low-powered x-ray generator and proprietary data and image analysis software, PowerChek identifies objects that are a different density than the product it's inspecting. It the system detects a foreign object, it automatically saves the image and the package is removed from the production line.
At Orval Kent, every rejected container goes to the quality control lab for further inspection so the company can quickly determine if there is a contamination problem in the plant that needs to be corrected.
"Compared to our old x-ray system, the PowerChek is more sensitive and more reliable," notes Salce. "We test it at the beginning of every production day and after every changeover, which is typically four or five times a day. In the 18 months that we've had it, it's never failed a test and we've had no unplanned downtime. This system helps us guarantee our customers receive the highest product quality and food safety."
Source: Mettler-Toledo Safeline