Fortress Technology and Sparc Systems have conceived a number of inspection innovations adopted by many of the largest UK multi-site bakeries, including the Fortress Interceptor Metal Detector and Sparc’s Hestia Dough Checkweighing system. Shortly, the two companies will unveil a dual density software that they say will finally make x-ray viable for bakeries.
According to the two companies, until now, there has been no optimal inspection solution for industrial bakeries. Metal detection offers superior sensitivity on foil but can be limited by product effect and the variety of contaminants it can find, while X-ray systems are technically challenged on highspeed bread lines.
“In the current climate, bakeries aren’t looking for complex, bespoke projects – rather, versatile, reliable, affordable, user-friendly machines that will satisfy retailer codes of practice,” notes Charlie Graham, European sales manager at Sparc Systems. With their ability to reliably detect stainless steel, ferrous and non-ferrous metals such as foil, metal detectors fit the bill perfectly. Foil is one of the primary contaminants on bakery lines due to the widespread use of foil trays. Additionally, items such as masks, hair nets and gloves are often designed with a foil strip to make them visible to a metal detector. X-ray inspectors, by contrast, can struggle to find foil in baked goods because it is too light – there is not enough of a density differential between the foil contaminant and the product being inspected. Of the thousands of systems Sparc and Fortress have installed in UK bakeries over the years, 99.9% have been metal detectors.
Recently, Sparc’s engineers have conceived a software-driven solution for inspecting dual density products with an X-ray. Designed specifically for 400- and 800-gram loaves, the system has already been trialed at a leading UK bakery. Sparc’s software uses two algorithms working side by side in different zones: one inspecting the denser crust area and the other inspecting the less dense center. This calculates different inspection parameters for each zone, achieving optimum sensitivities.
Sparc has incorporated the dual density software into a compact integrated metal detector-X-ray system. Operating side by side, the two inspection heads are mounted on one conveyor and operated by a single touchscreen, sharing electronics, controls and a reject mechanism.
The first system is scheduled to be installed in spring 2021. By giving bakeries best performance across the full contaminant spectrum, this advancement could well spell the start of industry-wide X-ray adoption by the bakery sector.