X-RAY INSPECTION - FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

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X-ray FAQThe following is a list of the most frequently asked questions.

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Are there burdensome documentation requirements for owning an X-ray system?

No, the requirements are rather simple. All Smiths Detection machines are manufactured to federal government and state requirements. Smiths will notify your state X-ray control agency of the installation. You must submit a simple X-ray registration form to the state, designating one employee as your "radiation safety officer" (RSO). Smiths will assist you with the application procedure and will train your selected staff member to be your RSO. Once a year, you are required to conduct a radiation survey of the exterior of the machine and record your findings. This is the full extent of the requirements.

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Can you match my line speeds?

Yes. In most cases, the X-ray is actually run at a slightly higher line speed internally. Thus, even if two packages arrive on the belt touching, the X-ray will pull a small gap useful for reject purposes. The original spacing may then be restored by simply having the takeaway belt run at the same speed as the feed belt.

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Do X-ray systems detect every contaminant type?

No, there are some low-density contaminants such as hair, string, Band-Aids, and low-density plastics that the system will not detect.

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Does the system require a specially trained operator?

No. Once the system is setup and commissioned, the day-to-day operation is as simple as other more conventional technologies.

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How can I tell if the product was rejected for foreign object contamination versus other defect reasons?

The system has separate internal operators for each of these categories; you may have separate reject mechanisms provided for each. Thus, one rejecter would reject all foreign object contaminants and the second product would reject all other defects (shape, size, count, etc.).

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How can x-ray detect metal contaminants in a product packaged in metal?

The fact that the contaminant is metal and the packaging is also metal is irrelevant. The X-ray looks for inappropriate shapes. For example, in a tin of tuna, a small metal fragment in the meat would present an X-ray image of a small, dense, object in a field of gray (due to the tin) and it is this object recognition that is the key. Thus, detection of metal-in-metal and glass-in-glass contaminants are achievable.

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How does check weighing with X-Ray compare to conventional check weighing technology?

A conventional check-weigher cannot distinguish the weight of the product separate from the carton whereas the Smiths Eagle series can distinguish and separately weigh the product exclusive of the carton edges and ends. The carton weight and flap glue weights are not included in the product weight, thus eliminating a considerable source of variation. In addition, the X-ray can "see" inside the carton, and individually weigh several sub-components of the package. For example, there might be an underweight component and an overweight component which would average out correctly for a check-weigher (thus being missed). With x-ray inspection, however, the defects will both be detected as defects and the carton is rejected.

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How does the reject timing operate if the product spacing varies?

The imaging system constantly views the package. Reject timing starts at the leading edge and remains active until the trailing edge. Thus, the system can accommodate not only variable spacing, but also variable product lengths.

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What will happen if my product varies considerably, or in an extreme case if the line has different products interspersed?

With the SimulTask exclusive proprietary image analysis system, this will not normally cause a problem as is the case with the simpler "image learning" systems. There is a tremendous dynamic range in the Eagle series of X-ray systems that can accommodate the image changes. This is not the norm on small competitive systems that use the "image learn" technique. Furthermore, the "image learn" systems are optimized for small sphere detection and will perform poorly in situations of contamination non-spherical contaminants.

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When taking X-rays, my dentist and doctor's office staff always put shielding on me, and then they leave the room. Do I need to concern myself with the potential for radiation exposure?

No, the system uses very low levels of X-ray intensity internally and the external dose rates in the operator area are virtually undetectable. The federal government mandates safety criteria for these types of machines. To give some idea, the energies used in the inspection of food products are low (typically 1/2) as compared to the energies used in airport security carry-on baggage inspection tasks. In those airport applications, the operator has close contact with the machine for the whole shift with no negative effects.

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Will the X-rays cause any changes in my product as it passes through the beam?

No, there will be no changes in your products. In order to induce changes in a product, or to sterilize a product, very powerful beams of radiation are required. The federal government has defined the product dose at which a product is considered "irradiated". Smiths Detection’s machines produce about one ten-millionth of this dose to the product, and thus the product is completely safe.

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X-ray systems cost more than metal detectors, so are there compelling reasons why I should consider this technology?

Yes. When you purchase inspection technology, you should do so with an eye on your customer complaints. Reducing the maximum number of complaints should be your goal. X-ray inspection will greatly reduce complaints. In addition, to foreign object detection, the Eagle systems detect and reject product defects you may have never considered. In short, the X-ray system can likely detect and eliminate many more complaint causing defects than all your other inspection technologies combined. Thus, the value in benefit versus cost easily justified.

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