Evolving inspection/detection technology can help both baking and snack food companies get their products to market contamination-free and in the case of multiple-item packs, with all of the promised pieces in place. There are several points in the baked goods/snack foods production process that benefit from inspection (metal detectors, X-ray systems) and checkweighing technology. Here are some examples:
- Incoming ingredients. Most of the larger bakers demand that their vendors meet specific HACCP objectives. They may require that metal detectors be used, provide proof of inspection, etc. Even with those methodologies in place, some will also inspect incoming ingredients. Typical incoming inspection consists of drop through and bulk flow metal detectors.
- Dough stage. Before the product is baked or otherwise processed, this is an ideal location to conduct upstream inspection. Metal detectors are the equipment of choice because metal-based packaging is not part of the process at this stage. Bar products are another example. They can be examined right after sheeting, or after the individual bars are cut, or before the product goes into the wrapper. Alternatively, they can also be inspected after packaging.
- After baking/before packaging. The inspection equipment type will depend on the product type and whether or not its formulation creates a “product effect.” Warm, moist, high salt content products such as breads are more suited toward X-ray equipment, while metal detectors perform well with typically-inert snack foods.Checkweighers can also be located at this stage to make sure that the product weight falls within the min/max specifications and will not create problems (such as line stoppages due to oversize) at the packaging stage. Checkweighers can also be used to confirm that all of the late-stage filling components, such as icing and other toppings, have been properly dispensed.
- After packaging. The recommended inspection equipment type is dependent on the packaging material or combination of materials that have been selected for this product. Metal components such as aluminum foil trays or metalized firm structures are much more suited to X-ray inspection. Flexible materials without a metal component, paperboard folding cartons and/or a combination of the two, work very well with metal detectors.Checkweighers are frequently located at this stage of the operation.
- After case packing. Some bakers or processors prefer to inspect after the final packaging stage—case packing. This is typically done via X-ray inspection, provided that the unit is large enough to accompany a case. In addition to inspection, the X-ray system’s ability to detect missing pieces will help ensure that the specified count has been loaded into the case.In certain situations, especially when X-ray inspection is not included at the end of the line, checkweighers are placed here to ensure that the proper number of packages are contained inside the case.
For more information, read the Market Insights And Solutions About Packaged Baked Goods & Snack Products white paper featured on our Food Community site.