How Approved Metal Detector Testing Can Improve Your Business

Product inspection equipment plays a key role in the implementation of a food safety program. Having equipment such as metal detectors on a production line helps to comply with GFSI-based food safety standards and retailer codes of practice, and ensure product quality and consumer safety. If you use vertical inspection methods, such as Throat metal detectors or Gravity Fall metal detection systems, then investing in an approved metal detection Automatic Test System is essential if you want to be on the safe side of equipment working correctly. Automatic Test Systems help food processors meet compliance needs, whilst increasing productivity and improving product quality.

Manufacturers need to ensure their metal detectors are working correctly in order to deliver compliance and safety assurances, as well as ensuring products remain of a high quality. Performance monitoring is an essential process for all food processors, however testing often involves stopping production or wasting good product, both of which can have a negative impact on Overall Equipment Effectiveness. The higher the frequency of testing, the bigger the impact it has on productivity and profitability, and the larger the volume of associated product waste.

Traditional testing methods in vertical inspection such as "Drop-Through", "Fishing Line" and "Test Rod" often requires teams of operators to put their safety at risk by climbing ladders and reaching over machinery so that they can drop or insert test samples into a throat or gravity-fall metal detector. Additionally, every time a test is carried out, the risk of cross-contamination increases, potentially compromising food product quality, as the test samples come into direct contact with the product.

Manual testing processes do not confirm centerline testing – the least sensitive part of the metal detector – as the placement of test samples passing through is generally random. Therefore, manual test processes are unable to accurately verify the operational specification of the metal detector. The challenge that many food producers face when using gravity-fall and throat metal detectors for raw ingredients, is how can they truly confirm centerline (worst-case) sensitivity of their metal detectors when conducting performance-monitoring tests? Without that confirmation, they cannot be sure they are reliably protecting their customers and their brands.

How the latest metal detection innovations make routine testing easier

Innovative metal detector testing solutions such Automatic Test System (ATS) and Reduced Test (RT) Mode are designed to improve the accuracy of tests, reduce the frequency of testing required and lessen the time it takes to carry out the tests respectively. 

ATS eliminates the random nature of vertical metal detector testing by providing a controlled and repeatable process. It also removes the risk of cross-contamination and product waste as the test pieces do not pass inside the product flow.

The Automatic Test System (ATS) and Reduced Test (RT) Mode are designed to improve the accuracy of tests

Instead the system works by transporting test samples, by pneumatic control, up discreet non-metallic tubes inside the metal detector’s aperture to a defined position within the sensing coils. The test samples are then released, simulating the presence of a contaminant in free-fall under gravity. A software algorithm correlates centerline sensitivity with edge of aperture sensitivity, eliminating the random nature of vertical metal detector testing. As a result, ATS reduces the time required to conduct testing from three to four minutes to less than 40 seconds.

Worker safety is also enhanced due to the reduction of ladder climbs and working at height. An additional "Emulation" feature may be available with the latest metal detection solutions, allowing operators to remotely control the metal detectors by mirroring their interfaces on remote networked devices. This is a great advantage to support COVID-19 social distancing requirements.

RT is an additional feature available on some throat and gravity-fall metal detectors  using intelligent software to continuously check the performance of the metal detector to ensure it is always working to, or better than, the manufacturer’s specification. It alerts any status changes that may lead to a drop in performance before the metal detector operates out of specification. RT allows companies to reduce the frequency of testing by up to 80%.

Drivers for change

Productivity and product quality are two of the key drivers for food processors, 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. These latest testing innovations as a whole deliver cost-down, productivity-up benefits, whilst ensuring maximum product quality and brand protection.

Download this free application note on “5 Reasons to Invest in Automatic Test System” to discover how it can deliver significant quality and productivity benefits to your business.