Frequently Asked Questions

How Does X-Ray Work?

Q. What are the fundamentals of X-Ray detection technology and how does X-Ray work?
A. X-Ray Inspection technology works by passing high energy X-Rays through material and detecting the resulting image on a detector.  X-Rays pass less readily through dense material and therefore dense objects show up as darker areas on an inspection image.  For X-Ray food inspection applications, a machine then reads the resulting image to identify potential contaminants. 

Fundamentally, X-Ray is driven by detecting differences in the density of materials. Thus contaminants that have a density similar to the product being inspected are difficult to detect whereas contaminant materials with a large density differential to the material being inspected are generally easier to detect.   Most food products have a high water content and hence it is challenging to find contaminants with a similar density to water (which includes wood, certain types of plastic – see below for more information on what is not detectable). 

What Is Not and What Is Not Detectable

Q. What contaminants are detectable and not detectable by the ScanTrac?
A. X-Ray inspection systems cannot detect insects, wood, thin plastic film, hair, and other low-density items in can or jars. Some of those items may be detectable in other environments   We excel at detecting metal, glass, stone, rubber, and many high-density plastics. These contaminants can be detected in most environments. 

Q. Can the ScanTrac detect metal contaminants in metal containers?
A. Yes. X-Rays penetrate metal or glass containers and allow us to detect contaminants inside. We can inspect metal cans, glass jars, containers with metal foil closures or made of metal foil, and many more. 

Q. How can I be sure that a specific contaminant is detectable?
A. InspX offers a free evaluation program – just send us samples of your contaminated product and we’ll show you how we can help you.  For more information, please email us at info@inspx.com.

Q. It is known that X-Ray inspection systems sometimes reject perfectly good containers. Is this true for the ScanTrac?
A. It is; however, what matters is the rate of such false rejects. In the inspection industry a false reject rate of one in 1,000 is often considered par for the course. The ScanTrac false reject rate is well below one in 20,000 - a 20:1 improvement, and often is below one in 100,000. This is a very important consideration when purchasing an X-Ray system as false rejects cost time and money.

Q. Can you detect contaminants at the bottom or near sidewall of the container?
A. Yes, ScanTrac's superior image processing technology detects defects reliably even near walls or bottom, something that is a challenge for other X-Ray systems.

 

What Are Recent Developments in X-Ray Technology?

Q.  I have heard about X-Ray technology for a long time; what, if anything, has changed?

A.  X-Ray technology is not a new fad.  The fundamentals of X-Ray detection were discovered in the late 1800’s and  X-Ray machines have been used in medical and other applications for over 50 years.   X-Ray systems for food inspection have been around for about 30 years.   Today’s machines are more powerful, more versatile and more reliable than ever before and so it is important to distinguish old technology from state of the art solutions.

Q. What are some of the most recent innovations developed by InspX?

A. InspX places significant emphasis on technical research and development with intense focus on X-Ray tube life and machine functionality. Recent enhancements to the ScanTrac product line-up include:

  • Improved ability to detect the presence of inserts within packages
  • Improved check weigh features with enhanced weight accuracy
  • Quick release pipeline for easy cleaning of pipeline systems
  • Enhanced ease-of-use of computer interface
  • Expanded remote diagnostics

Safety

Q. Is the ScanTrac safe for the people around it?
A. Absolutely. Maximum stray radiation limits are strictly governed by the federal and often state governments. However, we exceed all US and European safety regulations by a considerable margin. Furthermore, stray radiation from our equipment is usually below the natural radiation from the Earth and cosmic rays always present around us.Finally, each ScanTrac machine incorporates several safety features that maximize operator protection.

Q. Is X-Ray inspection safe for our products?
A. The typical X-Ray radiation dose received by the product during inspection is millions times less than the maximum allowable radiation dose established by the FDA.

Q. Does an X-Ray system need to be periodically certified?
A. Local regulations often require that X-Ray machines be periodically certified.  InspX offers this service for both its own and competitive machines.

Machine Reliability

Q. I have heard that X-Ray inspection machines often have a short lifespan, is that true?
A. It is true that very early X-Ray systems had an exceptionally short lifespan due to longevity issues with the X-Ray tube and the photo detector. Today, these components are much longer lasting with X-Ray tubes typically lasting between 5,000 and 10,000 hours of operation.  However, actual life does depend on a variety of operational factors including how often the machine is cycled, etc.  Note that ScanTrac machines use ultra long-lasting high performance X-Ray tubes that offer the longest life span.

With InspX you can purchase extended maintenance plan that covers 100% of the machine parts and maintenance and so no matter what happens with the machine, it is covered.  Furthermore, our robust remote diagnostics means that over 90% of issues can be corrected remotely, which minimizes downtime.  

Q. Does an X-Ray system need preventative maintenance?
A. No. ScanTrac systems require absolutely no preventative maintenance.  However, the machines should be regularly checked to ensure that the machine it operating properly  that potential problems can be detected fast and early!    

Q. How often do you need to stop production for calibration?
A. Never. The ScanTrac automatically calibrates itself without production stoppage.

X-Ray versus Metal Detection

Q. Is X-Ray technology intended to supplement or replace metal detection technology?
A. X-Ray systems are capable of detecting everything that a metal detector can detect and more.  Metal detectors have numerous limitations in terms of foreign contaminant detection – foremost they are only capable of finding metal, whereas X-Ray systems can find metal and a host of other contaminants.  Furthermore, the capabilities of metal detectors are impacted by temperature, moisture and other factors – these things have absolutely no impact on an X-Ray system.  Finally, an X-Ray system can find the exact location of a contaminant, making the contaminant easy to remove in cases where it makes sense to do so.

So there is absolutely no reason to duplicate the detection capability of an X-Ray system with a metal detector.

Are X-Ray Systems Easy to Use?

Q. X-Ray inspection devices are fairly complicated computer systems. How can I operate and maintain one if I do not have engineers on staff?
A. All InspX ScanTrac systems are designed with ease of use as a top priority.  We can even remotely configure the machine to inspect a new product and so all your local operations team needs to know is how to press the start button to begin inspecting!  Furthermore, our robust remote diagnostics allow us to rapidly resolve about 90% of field issues without a service visit!  Finally, InspX offers a full line up of rich online training that your team can immediately access anytime that have a question about any aspect of machine operation.

Machine Performance

Q. How fast can the ScanTrac inspect?
A. It can run up to 2,400 containers per minute at up to 700 feet per minute (210 m/min) conveyor speed.

 

Commonly Asked Operations Questions

Q. What ejectors are best suited for the ScanTrac?
A. This depends on the containers, speeds, container spacing, etc. Peco Controls manufactures a complete line of ejectors for every need. All of our ejectors are available online Eject-Stop-Divide.com .  If you are unsure which ejector is right for you application, use Eject-Stop-Divide.com's Automated Expert. 

Q. What is the minimum space required between containers? Do you require leadscrews or accelerating conveyors to provide minimum space between containers?
A. We do not require any spacing between containers; they can be inspected back-to-back. However, the containers should not be under backpressure - this would prevent proper ejection. We do not require any leadscrews or accelerating conveyors.

Q. What is the minimum conveyor space required to install the ScanTrac?
A. Typically, the ScanTrac requires six feet (1.8 m) of linear conveyor space. Sometimes it can take as little as 40 inches (1 m).

Q. Can the ScanTrac operate on variable speed conveyors?
A. Certainly. All ScanTrac models will automatically adjust to the conveyor speed without any operator intervention, from crawl all the way to the maximum rated conveyor speed.

Q.  What kind of power requirements do X-Ray machines have?

A. InspX ScanTrac X-Ray systems all run on standard 120 V AC power and plug into a standard 3 prong wall outlet.

 

Q.  Can X-Ray machines be used for check weighing?

A. Yes, X-Ray systems can be used for check weighing.  The mass of an object can be computed by the number of pixels of product and container in an image.  The primary advantage of using X-Ray systems for check weigh applications is speed and cost.  X-Ray systems can handle very high line speeds without any modifications to their software and of course there is no need to spend additional capital on a separate check weigh systems (additionally high speed check weigh systems are extremely expensive).

 

Q.  How much energy does an X-Ray System Use?

A.  In general X-Ray inspection systems are very energy efficient, using no more energy for inspection than a small electric motor

 

Q.  What is the difference between machines built to the IP65 versus the IP69K standard?

A.  These standards refer to the level of enclosure integrity for the cabinet that holds the X-Ray system.  An IP69K enclosure can safely withstand high-pressure, high-temperature steam cleaning and a required option when mandated by the operating environment.  For additional information please see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IP_Code

 

Q. How do X-Ray power levels impact the inspection process?
A. X-Ray power levels are typically quoted in kilovolts (kV), which is the amount of voltage differential applied to the X-Ray tube and a higher power level is not necessarily better.  Higher voltage levels tend to offer an improved ability to penetrate objects but at the cost of reduced life of the photo detector (as it is being subject to higher levels of X-Ray energy).  InspX has a special shutter device in all side-view ScanTrac machines that limit usage of the photo detector to just moments when an inspection is in progress, which dramatically improves the detector life span.

Q. How advanced is the machine’s analytical software?
A. One of the biggest differentiators between X-Ray inspection equipment manufacturers is the quality of analytical software – both the software used for image recognition/contaminant detection and the software that provides summarized operational analytics.  Be sure to understand how the software impacts the kinds of problems that the machine can detect and how that information can be summarized for later analysis. 

Q. What makes the ScanTrac the most accurate X-Ray inspection system in the industry?

A. Our sophisticated image processing software utilizes algorithms based on neural network principles, the most advanced area of image processing. Until recently, it was not practical for use in fast, real-time systems that process up to 40 images per second due to computer performance limitations.

Q. How much does the machine cost to own and operate?
A. Total cost of ownership is one of the most critical aspects of the purchase of an X-Ray system.  While X-Ray systems are extremely long-lived, they do have components that wear out (namely the X-Ray tube and the photo detector) and replacing these components can be expensive.  Therefore, make sure that you understand exactly how long components are expected to last and how much replacement parts cost.  Extended warranty and service plans may also make sense for your operation.

Q. What factors come into consideration when getting machines serviced?
A. Because most X-Ray inspection systems are powered by advanced computers, they can leverage powerful diagnostic and remote service capabilities that greatly reduce the need for onsite service. InspX, for example, can address about 90% of field problems via its remote diagnostic interface, which greatly reduces the need for more expensive (and less time efficient) field support.  A huge field service organization is great – but very expensive to maintain (and you the end customer ultimately pay for that) and with good remote diagnostic capabilities you should rarely need a tech visit.

Q. Does InspX Offer Customer References?
A. InspX has a large install base of operating X-Ray inspection systems (worldwide ScanTrac systems inspect about 120 million units every single day) and we would be happy to provide customer references that are most relevant to your application.  

Q. What is the difference between top-down and side-view X-Ray inspection?

A. Top-Down X-Ray inspection looks down through a product and must also pass through a sanitary belt. Certain packages are best suited for top-down inspection because their shape would make side view inspection difficult or impossible. Side View X-Ray Inspection looks through the side of the container. When possible, this type of inspection is superior, because it does not require the X-Rays to pass through a sanitary belt as part of the inspection.

For more information on ScanTrac X-Ray inspection systems please call 510-226-6686  email us at info@inspx.com.

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