In a space-saving product inspection breakthrough, Fortress Technology has custom-engineered a uniquetwin aperture metal detector and dual lane Raptor checkweigher for one of the world’s premium dairycompanies, helping to halve waste.

Receiving shredded cheese pouchesdirectly from a dual head bagger, thebold design unlocks substantial spaceand cost savings for the busy dairyplant. 

Offering a customized solution thatno other food inspection companycould come close to in performanceattributes, the twin lane conveyorconfiguration, consolidates a singleFortress metal detector uniquelydivided into two apertures and twoindependent weight verification Raptorcheckweighers for optimised qualitycontrol. Each technology and lane hasits own air blast reject mechanismto isolate metal contaminants andweight rejects, helping to reduce andminimise good product being wastedby over 50 percent. Measuring just10ft in length, Fortress also integrateda radius conveyor into the metaldetector infeed. 

For the producer of some of theworld’s most iconic cheese brands,compromising on metal detectionsensitivity was not an option.Highlighting the benefits of the multiaperturemetal detector conceptEuropean commercial manager JodieCurry expands: “The high-specFortress multi-aperture system wasengineered specifically to ensure thatthat there was no trade-off in termsof performance and metal detectionsensitivity. One of the key benefits ofa twin aperture system is the halving ofwaste caused by rejects.”

Multiple advantages 

The special dual-lane version ofFortress Technology’s multi-aperturemetal detector comprises a singleunit split into two smaller dedicatedapertures for each lane that act asindependent metal detectors. Foroptimal metal detection sensitivity thetwo compact apertures – measuringjust 102mm in height by 254mm wide -means that the packs pass individuallyright through the centre point of themetal detector. 

“With output per hour being sucha critical productivity benchmark,this game-changing multi-aperturedesign facilitates high speed andaccurate metal detection and marksa step change for lean manufacturersseeking to reduce factory footprintand improve Total Cost of Ownership(TCO),” notes Jodie. 

Fully integrated with the dairy plants’upstream and downstream equipmentand matching the 120-140 ppm outputspeed of the dual head VFFS baggingsystem, the compact geometry of thecustomised radius conveyor facilitates the positioning and orientation ofproduct packs as they smoothly roundthe corner towards the metal detector.Providing optimal spacing betweenproduct packs as they are presentedto each metal detector aperture helps to avoid congestion, bottlenecks andflexible packaging formats overlappingwhich could lead to sensitive weightverification checks being distorted. 

As each lane is programmed to runindependently, the bespoke designhelps to minimise interruption tothe packing process during productswitchovers or if one lane stopsworking or requires maintenance.Additionally, the unique design givesthe plant extra inspection and weightverification capacity, as two differentproduct lines, pack sizes or SKUs canbe run simultaneously adjacent toeach other. 

Air blast nozzles located between thetwo outfeed conveyors efficiently and independently remove contaminatedproduct into lockable reject binsequipped with reject confirmation andbin full sensors. With heavier products, Fortress would typically suggest usinga pusher, drop conveyor or retracting belt mechanism.

A Rapturous reception

Using compatible collective parts, theinaugural integration of the new Raptor Checkweigher marks another bigmilestone for the inspection specialist.Delivering dynamic weight monitoringwith minimal customisations toexisting product feed and packinglines, the hygienic dual lane designalso targets operational inefficiencies,notably upstream product giveaway,non-conforming food packs andpackaging waste.

In just milliseconds two packs passover two Raptor load cells to weigh,analyse, capture and report datasimultaneously. For ease of integration, air blast nozzles reject out of weightspecification products with minimal operative intervention.

To ensure absolute traceability andcompliance with retailer Codes ofPractice and QA protocols, boththe metal detector and Raptorcheckweigher capture easy to read liveOEE data. Enabling the dairy group toestablish the operational parametersand extract statistics most valuableto their business, for instance volume,weight, inspection speed, rejects ordowntime.

Equipped with Contact Reportersoftware, the dairy plant has thefacility to export and convert timestampedproduction data. “This levelof cohesive reporting on a multi-lanesystem provides valuable upstreamtrend feedback to boost operationalefficiencies,” notes Jodie.

Constructed to the highest food gradestandards, the modular 200mm wide conveyor assembly, conveyor decksand belts are all designed to be easilyremoved from the machine for rapiddeep sanitation and maintenance.

Operatives simply unclip anddisconnect the conveyor motor. In justseconds, the conveyor belt is removed,and the belt tension and tracking isinstantly restored when clipped backinto place. All without using a single tool.

In 2021, the Fortress Raptor series wonthe prestigious Food Processing Lean Manufacturing accolade. Commendingthe natural synergy between metaldetection and weight verificationtechnology, judges hailed the highoperational efficiency, cost savings andutilization of common elements.