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The Loma X4 X-ray inspection system is guaranteeing the crispy crust and soft interior of Brinkchen bread rolls.

Peter Schmidt, works manager at Backerei Brinker in Herne in Germany, said: ‘When you are producing between 19,000 and 24,000 bread rolls an hour on some of the world’s latest high-tech machinery, there are all kinds of variables that have to be controlled very precisely, such as the relationship between the roll’s outer crust and the soft core, which determines how you experience the taste and texture of the roll as you bite into it.’ Backerei Brinker is famous in Germany for the Brinkchen, the company’s branded bread roll.

Backerei Brinker 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 major wholesalers and supermarkets throughout Europe.

Schmidt added: ‘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.’ The company’s drive to continually improve quality led to a major 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.’ Brinker approached Loma, which recommended a combination of four Loma X4 X-ray inspection machines and one Loma IQ3 metal detector.

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

Loma’s sales and engineering staff collaborated closely with Schmidt to engineer a solution for this application: there were space constraints in the original line layout, and the environment at the rear of the oven was relatively hostile, with 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 safety in this application.

The cooling system for these detectors is also unique, as Loma’s normal vortex cooler could not be used in this application due to the presence of flour dust in the air.

Fortunately 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 premature failure of sensitive electrical components.

Schmidt continued: ‘Other than one minor problem, which was solved immediately under warranty, the X4 machines have run with total reliability for 18 hours a day and between five and seven days a week.

‘They were easy to set up and because they are self-adjusting, they achieve even higher detection accuracies than we expected.

‘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.’

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