X-ray inspection is one of the best technologies for ensuring food safety and quality on the market. This versatile technology can detect not only foreign contaminants, it can also check for:
Broken package seals
Volume of package that holds air
Missing components (ingredients, prizes, etc.)
Chemical lean (on DEXA-style x-ray machines)
In short, x-ray inspection machines are an excellent tool for maximizing the results of your quality control processes.
In any inspection process, the placement of inspection points is a key ingredient to a successful inspection. This is true of x-ray inspection as well.
The effectiveness of an x-ray inspection system will vary based on the type of product being processed, the contaminants present, and the placement of the machine. How can you choose the best critical control points to maximize the success of your quality control process?
Here are a few tips for establishing the best critical control points (CCPs) for a given production process:
Start with a Hazard Analysis
The first step in establishing any kind of quality control process is to perform a hazard analysis to establish the overall risk for foreign bodies to make it into products or for other issues to occur.
Start the hazard analysis by creating a flow chart or diagram of your entire production process. Every last operation should be listed, and all inputs and their placement should be accounted for in the chart. This includes both ingredients that go into your product and packaging materials.
Next, identify potential hazards that might intrude on each phase of the process. Consider the source of these hazards and how likely the hazard is to occur based on your production process.
Finish by taking into account how you can prevent hazards from being introduced into your production process. Certain hazards might require several countermeasures.
Identify Your Critical Control Points
Once you’ve completed your assessment, look at the phases of your process where contaminants or other hazards are most likely to occur within your product.
Typically, your critical control points will be:
Introduction of raw ingredients
Bulk-flow (loose) products
Before packaging and sealing
After packaging and sealing
These eight points are where you will likely see the most benefit from installing product inspection equipment. The specific nature of your process might introduce other critical control points that would be at higher risk of contaminants or other issues.
Choosing which CCPs to Install X-Ray Inspection Machines at
While installing x-ray machines at every critical control point sounds like a great idea, as it would provide a great level of redundancy, such an investment in x-ray inspection equipment might be overkill for your needs.
Rather than putting an inspection machine at every CCP, it’s usually best to pick out 1-3 CCPs to monitor depending on your budget for acquiring equipment.
If you only have one x-ray machine, it is typically a good idea to place somewhere near the end of your production process, either right before or preferably right after packaging and sealing the product. This serves as the last line of defense against products making it out of your factory with contaminants inside. Since the inspection would be executed once your package is sealed, it would assure that no other contaminants can enter your product.
Why not during casing? After products are cased, the extra packaging and layers of products might interfere with the x-ray’s ability to detect contaminants effectively.
Should your budget allow for more than one x-ray inspection machine, the area where raw ingredients are added to your production line is a good choice for installing a second machine. This allows you to spot contaminants that your suppliers may have missed, and avoid processing contaminated materials.
Another good place to put an extra x-ray machine is immediately after processing. In processing, there is a chance for metal shavings or other contaminants from the processing equipment to fall into your product. Placing an x-ray machine here provides you with a chance to detect such contaminants before they make it into packaging.
Having multiple x-ray machines in your production line does more than provide a high level of redundancy and security for your product quality control, it can help you pinpoint where contaminants are being introduced into your products so you can more easily root out the cause and remedy it.
Learn more about x-ray inspection technology today by contacting us here.