It’s a new year, a new decade and a new era for food safety. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration will soon publish a strategic blueprint on its “New Era of Smarter Food Safety” initiative that emphasizes a stronger food safety culture and the use of smarter tools and technology that provide greater traceability and prevent food safety hazards in the first place. X-ray technologies fit well into this new approach, in demonstrating a company’s commitment to food safety, performing accurate, reliable inspection and capturing information and visuals for enhanced traceability.
Plan Automation Technology Blog
Maximizing efficiency on the line is a top goal for today’s manufacturers, who face concurrent challenges based on their operating environment and producing a safe and compliant product. Advanced x-ray systems can be deployed to find and remove contaminants that pose safety hazards and determine product flaws, but can also be used to improve efficiencies, from time, money, energy and labor standpoints.
The umbrella covering operational excellence is widening and encompasses the methodologies of Lean Manufacturing, Total Quality Management, Six Sigma, PDCA and other models to help you with your continuous improvement efforts. While you’re striving to reach your goals through these and other initiatives, optimizing x-ray technologies not only find and reject contaminants but offer many other capabilities for improved safety, quality, traceability and productivity to help you meet your targets.
Achieving operational excellence can be challenging for any food or beverage business, particularly dairy manufacturers that work under the industry’s most rigorous 3A specifications. Technologies, including advanced inspection capabilities specifically designed for dairy plant applications, can be put into place that meet such strict standards and that can be optimized to both find and reject contaminants and enhance quality assurance.
Given the fact that most produce originates in fields, trees, and in the great outdoors, there are opportunities for environmental foreign material to mix with good products as they are collected and sent to food manufacturers for further processing. X-ray machines find and remove contaminants in the bulk flow part of the process, as well as other critical control points in production, to ensure that fruit and vegetable manufacturers and packagers are compliant with food safety standards and regulations. X-ray inspection systems also help ensure product quality and integrity.
The desire and need to reduce risks at more points in the food and beverage production process, along with new regulations on the use of preventive controls, has led to a renewed focus on supplier management. Beyond verbal assurances, manufacturers increasingly seek information and verification from suppliers about goods sent to their facility, a shift that ultimately sets the bar higher for food safety. Suppliers who use x-ray inspection systems can use the accompanying data as proof to their manufacturer partners. While manufacturers, whose suppliers do not use x-ray on outgoing goods, can deploy x-ray technology to scan incoming goods as a way of keeping them in check.
To reach their targets – including product specification as well as budgets and profits – meat operations are utilizing advanced x-ray technologies that inspect for contaminants in the earliest stages of production and determine if products regularly meet specifications. Such systems also solve problems by helping identify the reasons for rejections and inconsistencies and providing feedback for improvements.
Consumers are driving changes in packaging, whether based on their interest in more sustainable options, demand for different sizes and formats to fit their needs or other reasons. Looking ahead, one can expect additional disruptions in traditional product development and packaging, which will impact all facets of production, including the inspection of items for safety and quality purposes. Advanced x-ray systems are keeping up with, and in some cases ahead of such changes, with features reflecting current market trends and future directions.
Food quality management is a customer-driven system that encompasses food quality assurance and food quality control, among other elements. Manufacturers use quality management systems in the food industry to provide products that are as free as possible from flaws, to meet rigorous standards required by regulations, their own objectives, and that are made efficiently and consistently. Advanced x-ray inspection technologies are tools that can be utilized for both quality control and quality assurance purposes, to different ends but for the shared food quality management goals of producing goods to satisfy end user demands and protect a company’s brand.
Staying up to speed on the latest food safety and quality standards is important, even if sometimes complex and time-consuming. As they work to stay compliant with global and domestic standards, manufacturers can take advantage of the many benefits of inspection technologies to enhance and optimize their production process while preventing potential hazards and assuring quality and consistency. These technologies may prove as the difference between compliance and incompliance, or simply the difference between producing a safe product or a dangerous hazard for public consumption.