The Evolution Of X-Ray Inspection Systems
Over the last few years, x-ray systems for food manufacturers have matured. Gone is the day when food was painstakingly inspected by hand, which was a time-consuming process; today technologically advanced machines identify a multitude of contaminants in a variety of foods, products and packages. With ever-changing trends in the food industry, x-ray inspection equipment has evolved to meet the new demands that increasingly innovative packaging designs are impacting on the inspection process.
A growing consumer trend affecting manufacturers is the desire for multi-textured foods, such as bags of mixed salad leafs. These types of packaged goods have many density levels resulting in a crowded xray image, posing new challenges for identifying contaminants. As such, extra demands are being made on image analysis software to find contaminants. Material Discrimination X-ray (MDX) technology, which is especially useful with variable density "busy" images, is a good solution to this new-found problem. Originally pioneered for use in the security sector, MDX technology is able to discriminate materials by their chemical composition and allows the detection and rejection of historically undetectable inorganic contaminants such as glass shards, rocks, rubber and plastic. New product inspection systems now come equipped with MDX dual-energy algorithms that increase contaminant detection of foreign bodies previously unseen by x-ray or any other conventional means in difficult product applications.
As packaging continues to evolve to appear attractive to consumers, x-ray inspection machines will continue to progress in order to meet these ever-changing demands. Equally, as retailers demands increase and food and drug safety regulations intensify, compliance and traceability through every stage of a product's life cycle will grow in importance. Eventually all product inspection equipment will need to be tailored to dually function as a management tool and food safety measure.