Plan Automation Technology Blog

Deciding if Automated X-Ray Inspection is Right for Your Business

Posted by PLAN Automation Blog on Thu, Mar 19, 2015 @ 15:03 PM

Is x-ray inspection right for your business?X-ray inspection for products and packages is an incredibly versatile and accurate technology. These machines can check for contaminants, missing products, underfill/overfilled packages, and more in the blink of an eye, and with much greater reliability than the naked eye.

But, is x-ray inspection technology right for your business? While x-ray inspection machines are a great for quality control, business owners need to know that the investment will be worthwhile for them.

To help you determine if x-ray inspection systems are right for your business, here are a few things that you might want to consider:

Production Capacity

One of the biggest benefits to an x-ray inspection system is the way that they can check your products quickly and accurately, typically far faster than a manual inspection could. Many x-ray product inspection machines are capable of checking hundreds to thousands of products per minute, making them ideal for companies that have a high product throughput.

On the other hand, if your company’s product line speed is low, then the inspection speed of an automated x-ray machine might be overkill for your needs.

Level of Risk Posed by Contaminants

Another major argument for using x-ray product inspection over manual checks is that the fidelity of an x-ray inspection makes it much more reliable for detecting contaminants than manual checks.

X-ray machines can detect glass, metal, and other foreign contaminants hidden deep inside of another object with ease. A manual inspection can only detect contaminants that are readily visible from the surface of a product’s packaging.

For example, say that your company were to make creamy peanut butter in glass or plastic jars. Peanut butter, being opaque, would make it hard, if not imposible, for a human inspector to spot tiny slivers of metal that may accidentally work their way into a jar. An x-ray machine would easy spot the contaminant, no matter how deeply buried in the product it is.

This is a pretty powerful reason to invest in this type of inspection technology. However, it is one that primarily applies to industries that make ingestible products such as food or medicine. Other manufacturers might not need this level of inspection accuracy if contaminants in their products don’t pose a health or safety risk to consumers.

Need for Inspection of Sealed Packages

As mentioned before, one of the major limitations of visual inspection methods is that they rely on the observational abilities of the human eye. Naturally, if you have a product in opaque packaging, then your ability to inspect the package manually will be limited.

An x-ray machine can check sealed packages that are “ready” for shipment without disturbing the packaging. This allows you to put a final quality control checkpoint (CCP for HACCP) near the end of your production line to catch any flaws in products incurred during the packaging process.

Beyond that, many x-ray product inspection machines can check the integrity of the packaging itself, spotting loose or broken seals that may cause products to become compromised during shipment.

If you need to make absolutely sure that there are no defects in products just before grouping them for shipment, then an x-ray machine might be well worth the investment.

Need for Consistency in Products

X-ray inspection makes your products stay consistent Other than checking for contaminants in products, x-ray machines can check for consistency of products against an acceptance standard. It can also find defects in your products. If a product does not conform to the standard, it gets rejected. This is highly useful for quality control in products where maintaining a consistent shape and size is important.

Built-in measuring systems on many x-ray machines can measure the volume, area, and weight of products to make sure that each package has a perfect proportion of material, even in closed packages.  A grayscale x-ray can check for inconsistent distribution of filling in snack cakes, giving you a better idea of whether that item meets your production standards than a simple weight check.

By examining your needs for product consistency, inspection capacity, and inspection accuracy, you will have a strong basis for determining if an automated x-ray inspection machine will be suitable for your product inspection needs.

If you want to learn more about x-ray inspection, contact Plan Automation, or check out our guide to x-ray inspection at the link below:

Topics: X-Ray Inspection, automation