I recently had an article published in Food Manufacturing that discussed checkweigher innovations and considerations for the food industry. If your facility has had a checkweigher(s) in place for awhile, you might want to do some investigation to see if it has kept up with the times. Your plant has probably undergone many changes over the years … in equipment, labor, even the types of products and packaging that are being processed. It might be time to take a second look at your checkweighing equipment and see if it is doing today’s job. And if you don’t have a checkweigher, it might be time you get one.
Here are some topics to consider that might help you decide if your previously purchased equipment best suits today’s operations:
- There’s a trend now for eco-responsible packaging that is easy to hold, open, use, and re-seal. Packaging trends have ripple effects on machinery. A metal can behaves differently on the line than a flexible stand-up pouch. Does your equipment provide a seamless transition between stations on the conveyor line?
- Fresh food is becoming more popular. Is the checkweigher exposed to raw food items? Your old equipment that ran canned goods may need to be upgraded to machines that allow washdown. Many food processors are requesting equipment with sanitary design washdown capability, rated IP69K by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).
- Checkweighers may need to be located more upstream than the last spot on the line. You will be able to catch the anomalies earlier and avoid a bigger problem if multiple machines are placed in diverse spots along the line. In one custom example, glass bottles of powder needed two weighing sections with independent frame and conveyers. A totally contained solution eliminated loss of sync between the tare and the gross weight measurements.
- What language is used by the labor force? A checkweigher interface should support multiple languages.
- What is the skill of your labor force? Interfaces should be touch screen and designed for ease of use.
- Can your checkweigher store data? Because the checkweigher is one of the last pieces of equipment to touch a product on the product line, storing the data is helpful should a problem arise later.
- Do you need real-time data? Twitter is not a good choice to see what’s trending in your facility, but real-time data provided by the equipment can help in identifying production problems as they are happening, avoiding last-minute problems.
- Does the checkweigher have wireless interface capability? And is it located where there is no interference? Being connected at all times is important. Another equipment evolution is to move towards wireless interfaces that function well in a plant environment and do not interfere with (or interfered by) the machines.
- Do you need the bells and whistles? Or are you just looking for the basics to start? It’s hip to purchase stripped down models and upgrade later.
- Do you need to save space? You don’t have to be moving your operations into one of the trendy tiny houses, but you may want to consider a combination checkweigher and metal detector that gives both accurate weight control and the assurance that your product is free of metal contaminants. Millennials are good at multi-tasking so it makes sense to have two tasks done by one piece of equipment.
Whether it’s for keeping up with consumer trends, complying with regulations, protecting your brand, or saving your bottom line, you need to ensure you have innovative equipment that will provide an accurate, real-time reading, of every package coming off the line. If your present equipment is not giving you the information you need to monitor, adjust and avoid problems, it’s time to upgrade. Don’t wait for the next generation.
Need help figuring out which checkweigher is best for your business? Here’s a Checkweigher Selection Guide.