What Exactly Is X-ray Inspection?
X-ray technology is the future (and dare we say, present) of inspection in the food industry.
Food inspection used to be “hands-on” – quite literally, done by hand. It then moved to metal detection; and then from metal detection evolved to X-ray.
What is X-ray inspection?
Think about what you see when you go through airport security (minus the long lines). You may see people enter a gray tube-like structure, raise their hands above their heads, and have an X-ray photo taken of them. X-ray for food inspection uses a lot less power, but it’s a very similar concept. It takes a photo of all your food jars or boxes to find foreign contaminants.
What does that do?
It allows you to find very small pieces of metal, glass, stones, bones, or other animal products – all things you don’t want shipped in your products. Online continual inspection allows you to inspect every jar or box.
It also helps you find missing products. For example: if you’re making chocolates and there should be 12 in a box about to be shipped, X-ray helps you quickly know if there’s only 11 in there.
What about “sampling”?
The problem with sampling is that Murphy’s Law says you’re not going to pick the right box off the line. (Sampling, as a refresher, is when random products are chosen from a line to be inspected as a representation of all the products.) Many times, you’ll miss the contaminants.
We know the average recall costs $5 million. So the inspection of every product becomes a very efficient insurance policy.
Does this help protect the brand name?
Brand reputation and its protection is so important. But you can’t get away from social media, or how it allows for a rapid exchange of information, which could lead to damaging reports before you get a chance to nip problems in the bud.
Historically, if you had a problem – maybe a small piece of glass in your product – it was probably locally contained to the people in the person’s network that they were able to talk to. Now, if there’s a piece of glass in the product, social media means a picture of that glass can circle the globe in hours – which is not something you want to wake up to in the morning.
So if you’d like to sleep well, X-ray inspection is something to strongly consider.
So what does Peco InspX do?
Peco-InspX makes three different machines for the rigid container market: the Solo, the Trio, and the Glissando. We are expert rigid container inspectors. We work with clients of all sizes, looking for contaminants in cans, bottles and jars.
Our specialty is finding glass in glass with the Glissando and the Glissando Plus.
We handle a variety of different sizes, up to five gallon pickle jars – which is unique in the industry.
Another thing that sets us apart: we believe in whole container inspection: we don’t only look at parts of a container, we look at all of the container; which many others in the industry do not. What that does for you is assure you there are no contaminants in the entirety of your product.
What about remote services?
Up-time for customers is a huge problem: making sure you’re optimizing your line and making as many packages as possible. One thing we do that’s unique to the industry is online service.
We can dial into your machine from all over the world. We fix 95% of the problems remotely. That lets you make sure that if there is a problem, your X-ray machine is up and working ASAP, without waiting for a technician to arrive or fit you in their schedule.
What are the risks of not using X-ray?
The number one risk: injuring your consumers.
You can also harm downstream machinery, depending on where you use inspection in your process. If you X-ray your incoming ingredients, you can also save the production costs of producing food that is inevitably going to be contaminated.
You also risk fines, litigation, and sanctions from agencies like the FDA (or the CFIA in Canada). You risk loss of consumer confidence and groundswell marketing.
Retailers have choices. And what when retailers look for products, they go online to see what’s been reported about your brand. They definitely don’t want to see that you’ve had recalls, or complaints on social media.
By putting in X-ray inspection proactively, you can avoid all these things.
Inevitably, you will have challenges. If you go to a third-party rework company, you’ll be horrified and shocked by what the bill is. By proactively purchasing X-ray, you’ll get two things: the benefits listed above – brand protection, cost-effectiveness, lower production costs, machinery and consumer protection – AND avoid going to a third-party.