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An Ishida X-Ray inspection system and checkweigher combination has played a key role in enabling one of the UK’s leading contract packing companies to implement a new packaging solution for a major customer.
Universal Flexible Packaging, based in Leicester, UK, is a long-term partner of leading Asian-inspired food brand Itsu. Itsu wanted to reduce the amount of packaging for its premium noodle cup range with a new cup and foil sealed lid. However, this meant quality checks using traditional metal detectors would not be possible, and for a filling and packing system where the majority of the equipment is built of stainless steel, X-ray provided the best solution for both brand and consumer protection.
While X-ray inspection technology delivered effective quality control, the challenge was to keep the lightweight cups upright. With most other X-ray solutions, cups would topple as they pass through the protective curtains to enter the inspection chamber.
Ishida’s solution was to use its entry-level IX-EN-2463 X-ray inspection system with a lower 50kV voltage and remove theprotective curtains. As the pots enter the chamber an extended guarding provides full protection from the X-ray process without the need for the curtains.
“We have a longstanding working partnership with Ishida, so they were the obvious choice for this particular application,” said Steve Potter, Universal Flexible Packaging’s Engineering Manager.
“As well being able to come up with a suitable solution, the company’s IX-EN X-ray inspection system was very competitively priced.”
The IX-EN is integrated with Ishida’s DACS-G checkweigher, which provides a final weight check to ensure that all ingredients in the pot are present. The system incorporates Ishida’s Retail Reject Confirmation (RRC) software that checks and confirms that any out-of-spec products or packs have been successfully removed from the packing line, in line with individual UK retailer quality standards and codes of practice. Two reject bins identify packs rejected by either the X-ray or the checkweigher.
“The installation and integration with the rest of the line was seamless, and both machines have proved very reliable and easy to operate,” said Steve Potter.
The Ishida X-ray and checkweigher combination is handling two designs of pot at around 80 packs per minute and is in operation for up to 24 hours a day, five days per week. Importantly for Universal Flexible Packaging, the system has helped to increase efficiencies on the line.
A further benefit of the Ishida IX-EN is its ability to identify other types of foreign bodies, such as glass, ceramics and stones. While it is highly unlikely that such items would be found in the cups, this capability adds a further level of quality assurance to Universal Flexible Packaging’s operations in line with its BRC AA* accreditation.
The latest quality control system joins the existing seven multihead weighers and 15 checkweighers currently in operation across Universal Flexible Packaging’s two factories in Leicester.
“Ishida has been a reliable partner for us for many years,” concluded Steve Potter. “As well as the quality of the equipment, we know that in the event of a problem or the need for a spare part, we will always receive a fast response. It is reassuring to have a large global company that is still able to deliver a personal, localised service for its customers.”