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Swiss confectionery firm F Hunziker has installed the IX-EA-2161 X-ray inspection system from Ishida to enhance quality control in the packing of pastilles and powered drinks into bags at its factory.

The Ishida X-ray system has to monitor many production anomalies and contaminants including an over-large sugar crystal or a simple product lump in the powdered drinks, and the occasional small fragment of paper or plastic that could enter the pastilles or drinks via the sugar supply.

The IX-EA also has the ability to pick up tiny amounts of metal, glass, stone and rubber, adding an extra level of product safety.

With the line running at up to 90 bags per minute, older measures such as sieving of the powder and visual inspection of both products could not be relied on, leading Hunziker to select X-ray inspection technology.

The main challenge in inspecting the pastilles, which consist mainly of gum Arabic and sugar or sugar substitutes, is their density and the fact that pieces often aggregate in the pack.

The Ishida X-ray system was selected by Hunziker following extensive trials in which the machine was 100 per cent successful in identifying a number of deliberately contaminated packs, and this success rate has continued during operation in the factory.

The smallest contaminant detected to date by the machine was 0.5mm – and this despite the use of aluminised bags on the line.

Operation of the IX-EA is said to be quick and simple.

Inspection settings are automatically optimised by simply passing product through the machine.

Up to 100 product presets are available and the operator can change from one to another without interrupting the existing production run.

The system uses the Microsoft Windows platform via a touch-screen monitor and the use of a graphic outline makes it easy to see why a pack is being rejected.

The intuitive interface is also said to make operation easy to learn.

Triple lead-filled plastic curtains ensure that no measurable amount of radiation can escape from the machine.

If the access door is opened or a hand is inserted into the interior, the system shuts down automatically.

The Ishida machines were supplied by Itech, Ishida’s distributor in Switzerland.

The IX-EA-2161 underwent on-site technical approval by the authorities, and two Hunziker employees who received training in local environment monitoring (compulsory under Swiss law) carry out regular checks.

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