Choosing the right metal detector for your food production line
A metal detector is one of the most important pieces of equipment for the food industry. If a consumer bites down on metal whilst eating one of your products that could be very costly to your reputation and the money you would need to pay if you are faced with a fine as well as the expense of recalling thousands of products. Also, a consumer might not realise they are eating metal if the piece is small enough so it can present a choking hazard or other health problem, which can be dangerous. With that in mind, we’ll be exploring how to choose the right metal detector for your production line in this guide.
The main function of the detector
This might sound obvious but an essential consideration when deciding on the best metal detector for your application is the specifics of what you want the machine to do, diving deeper than the surface of simply detecting metal. Meta detectors come in different sensitivity ranges, so for instance the most sensitive detectors would likely be located at the end of production when the products are nearly ready to be distributed and sold to consumers.
Whereas lower sensitivity detectors will be installed near the start of the production process where their main function is to protect the equipment by finding larger metal pieces that would cause damage to equipment further down the line if they were allowed to pass through. Before looking at metal detectors make sure you know what the sensitivity requirements are for your production line and select a detector that can identify magnetic and non-magnetic metals and ferrous and non-ferrous ones.
Products for detection
Not all metal detectors are designed and constructed to detect all food products generally, they will all be adapted in order to accurately identify metal contaminants in specific product characteristics. Whether the food product is wet or dry is one of the main features that will influence the type of metal detector you should choose. You wouldn’t use the same model of metal detector for fresh meat or fruit and veg as you would do for cereals or powder-based items for example. Other product characteristics you will want to consider include temperature or size variations as this will help to ensure that all possibilities are accounted for, and your chosen metal detector will work as effectively and accurately as possible in the long term.
Understanding product effect
Product effect is when a metal detector incorrectly highlights a metal contaminant and there isn’t actually one present. This is particularly common in situations where the products going through a detector are conductive as a result of iron content, salt, or water it may have which interferes with the electromagnetic field of the detector and generate the false result.
If your production line involves products of this nature you will want to choose a metal detector that is designed to cancel out product effect but equally provide the best possible precision when looking for contaminants. Metal detectors with high quality machine learning capabilities and multi-spectrum metal detection technologies will be beneficial in counteracting product effect. If your food production line doesn’t involve items that are likely to cause product effect, i.e., ones that are dry or neutral, different types of metal detectors will be fine for your needs and manufacturing processes. It is unlikely that you’ll need to worry about this effect.
Where the detector will be located
Your inspection area is another important consideration when choosing a new metal detector for your production line and ensuring effective food safety management. Assessing the area first will be beneficial as you will then be able to confirm whether it is wet or dry, if there are any alterations in temperature, the cleaning processes involved, and within the cleaning process, if the washdown is high or low pressure.
Having answers to these will help you rule out detectors that won’t suit the environment in which it will be installed. For example, if you know your inspection area uses high temperature and pressure during cleaning then a metal detector with an IP65 rating won’t work for you and will become damaged in these conditions. This type of detector is only designed to handle a warm temperature and low-pressure washdown. Also, in dry areas, it’s best to avoid metal detectors that are painted as over time the paint can chip away and potentially lead to contamination in your end products.
The above is just some of the factors you will want to consider when finding the right metal detector for your production line. Our team of expert factory setup consultants at FESS can help you decide on metal detectors based on all considerations including things like the reputation of the supplier, how easy the detector is to use, the overall cost and value of the detector to the production line, and more. We are food production engineering professionals with years of experience in the industry, helping businesses make their production processes as efficient and cost-effective as possible. Request a free site survey on our website today and don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.