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Backerei Brinker, a bakery in Herne, Germany, has improved the quality of its products using the advanced X4 X-ray inspection system from Loma Systems.

According to Peter Schmidt, the works manager at the bakery, there are numerous variables that have to be controlled precisely, such as the relationship between the roll’s outer crust and the soft core, which determines its taste and texture.

The company sells fresh-baked products through its own chain of more than 50 retail outlets in Germany and supplies deep-frozen, partially baked bread and pastry products to wholesalers and supermarkets throughout Europe.

Schmidt said: ‘We are IFS and ISO certified and achieved an almost perfect score of 98 per cent in our last IFS audit.

‘All aspects of the process are subjected to stringent quality checks: the raw materials, the times and temperatures for the different stages of the baking process and the end-of-line checks on shape, size, colour, taste and foreign bodies,’ he added.

Backerei Brinker’s drive to improve quality led to an investment in X-ray foreign body detection technology and metal detectors in 2008.

Schmidt said: ‘We wanted to rule out every possibility of contaminants in our products so we chose the best technology available.

‘Many of our competitors use metal detection alone, but metal detection only picks up metal and the accuracy on hot bread products is not ideal.

‘We wanted something that would pick up other contaminants as well as providing the high level of accuracy we feel is essential,’ he added.

Loma, a supplier of metal detectors, X-ray scanners and checkweighers, was contracted to provide four X4 X-ray inspection machines and one IQ3 metal detector.

Finding a location to install the X-ray machines on the three bread-roll lines was challenging.

Not only were there space constraints in the original line layout, but the environment at the rear of the oven was relatively hostile with very high temperatures and a large amount of flour dust in the air.

The final solution involved building a mezzanine floor to support the three X4 units and rerouting the conveyor belts to transport the product to the machines.

Loma’s engineering department devised a custom safety system to ensure maximum radiation protection in this application.

The company’s normal vortex cooler could not be used in this application because of the presence of flour dust in the air.

However, it was possible to connect the machines to Brinker’s internal water-cooling system, which closely controls the temperatures in the electrical cabinets to prevent the premature failure of sensitive electrical components.

Schmidt said: ‘The machines have a high level of safety; we measure radiation levels three times daily and have never detected excess radiation.

‘Hygiene is another important consideration and these machines are excellent in that respect; they can be opened up for cleaning and are free of nooks and crannies where product debris could accumulate,’ he added.

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