Industry News: Reduce Metal Detector Testing and Reap the Benefits

New metal-detecting solutions from Mettler Toledo promise reduced waste and improved productivity in food and beverage testing

30 May 2019

Metal detector testing is essential for any food production line. However, performance testing of your equipment can add pressure to production lines, impacting productivity by stopping production, as well as wasting product during the testing process. Fortunately, recent enhancements to Mettler Toledo's profile vertical metal detectors are helping food producers using gravity-fed inspection processes to overcome these challenges. New metal detector testing innovations include Reduced Test (RT) Mode and Automatic Test System (ATS), which deliver tangible benefits to improve overall equipment effectiveness (OEE).

Routine performance monitoring testing is a challenge for food manufacturers

GFSI-based food safety standards and retailer codes of practice require frequent performance monitoring tests to verify that product inspection equipment is working correctly. The frequency can vary depending on the application, and how long the product stays on site before it is shipped to its destination. The challenge that users of Throat (VFFS) and Gravity Fall metal detectors face is how can they truly guarantee centerline (worst case) sensitivity of their metal detectors when conducting performance monitoring tests?

Without that guarantee, they cannot be sure they are reliably protecting their customers and their brands. Additionally, every time metal detector testing is carried out, there can be an impact on productivity and labor costs. Tests often require a stop in production for multiple minutes, and two operators are often required to physically carry out the tests. The higher the frequency of metal detector testing, the bigger the impact it has on productivity and profitability, and the larger the volume of associated product waste.

How the latest metal detection innovations make routine testing easier

ATS is designed to improve the accuracy of tests and reduce the time it takes to carry out the tests; RT Mode significantly reduces the frequency of metal detector testing required.

Award-winning and approved by a major UK retailer, ATS offers many benefits to food manufacturers:

  • It is a non-invasive method of testing and is the only way that we believe guarantees centerline sensitivity, ensuring maximum brand protection.
  • ATS eliminates the random nature of Throat metal detector testing by providing a controlled and repeatable process.
  • It also removes the risk of cross-contamination, as the test pieces do not pass inside the product flow.
  • ATS also reduces the time taken to conduct testing from three to four minutes to less than 40 seconds.
  • As well as improving productivity and product safety, labor costs are reduced, as only one operative now needs to carry out testing.
  • Worker safety is also enhanced due to the reduction of ladder climbs and working at height.

RT Mode's intelligent software continuously checks the performance of the metal detector to ensure it is always working to, or better than, the manufacturer's specification. RT Mode ensures the metal detector is always functioning correctly, and provides alerts of any status changes that may lead to a drop in performance before the metal detector operates out of specification. The biggest benefit comes from being able to significantly reduce the frequency of metal detector testing, which can result in an increase in OEE of around 2 percent. For example, one manufacturer used to test every two hours before introducing RT Mode. They have now reduced testing to every 12 hours. They are reaping the benefits of increased productivity and labor efficiencies, as well as reduced product waste.

Drivers for change

Mike Bradley, Head of Sales for Mettler-Toledo's Metal Detection business says, “Product quality and productivity are two of the key drivers for our customers, alongside cost reduction. If a business can reduce costs and increase operator efficiency to allow them to carry out more production related functions, rather than test functions, there is a direct correlation with profitability. Our latest enhancements as a whole deliver cost-down, productivity-up benefits, whilst ensuring maximum product quality and brand protection, aligning with the main business focus of many of our customers.” 

More than just productivity benefits

Mettler Toledo's other metal detection innovations include eDrive™ and Emulation. eDrive technology increases the amount of power to the transmit coil of the metal detector, making it easier to detect significantly smaller metal contaminants.

Fitted with eDrive, Mettler Toledo's latest Throat and Gravity Fall systems deliver up to 20 percent increased spherical sensitivity. This translates into significantly improved non-spherical (wire type contamination) detection capabilities enabling detection of lengths of wire up to 50 percent shorter than previously possible. This enhances product quality, reduces the risk of product recalls and improves brand protection.

Emulation uses Virtual Network Computing technology to enable operators to mirror the Human Machine Interface of one or multiple Profile metal detectors onto remote networked devices, including mobile phones, tablets and laptops.

Quality personnel can log in remotely to monitor the status of their metal detection program, view any setting changes that have been made, and review performance-monitoring statistics without having to be directly in front of the metal detector. In its simplest form, it can be considered a low cost "shop floor" to "top floor" monitoring process allowing the organization to effectively manage its critical control points.

These latest enhancements – ATS, RT Mode, eDrive and Emulation – deliver significant productivity benefits, enhance product and process quality, increase levels of worker safety and ultimately help manufacturers protect their brand reputation.

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