PHOTON COUNTING IN FOOD MANUFACTURING
Food manufacturers around the world are required to comply with stringent regulations that safeguard customers by preventing contamination. The smallest shard of glass, plastic, or metal in food can cost a manufacturer millions of dollars in recalls and damages, and that is why proper food inspection is key to preventing potentially contaminated food from ever leaving the factory.
To see the importance of inline food inspection, one needs to look no further than the 2016 Mars chocolate recall. One customer in Germany found some red plastic in their chocolate, which led to chocolate bars to be voluntarily recalled in 55 countries and cost Mars tens of millions of dollars.
We understand the importance of food inspection, and our photon counting detectors have been integrated into complete X-ray systems in order to conduct in-line food inspections in the manufacturing process. Direct Conversion photon counting detectors, such as the DC-TDI, were developed to provide X-ray solutions to complex processes like food manufacturing.
A food manufacturing plant’s inspection system has to deal with many specific demands and constraints, especially when considering the importance of maintaining productivity in in-line food manufacturing. Our engineers took this into account when they developed the DC-TDI photon counting detector and time delay summation.
Time-delay summation (also known as TDS) is a system for adding multi-stage sensors to form an output image. Simply put, time delay summation is the process of adding together multiple exposures of the same point on an object as it passes a detector. TDS increases the X-ray collection efficiency of a detector which allows the detectors to create high-resolution images while working inline on conveyor belts at speeds of up to 6m per second.
Photon Counting Material Discrimination
Being able to detect foreign contaminants quickly and accurately is one of the most important and most difficult challenges in food inspection imaging systems. Accurate material discrimination in food inspection is imperative when taking food safety regulations into account. After all, nobody wants to be target of costly recalls brought on by someone finding a piece of glass or plastic in their food.
Our DC-TDI detector series was purpose built for situations like these that require enhanced material discrimination. The DC-TDI detectors incorporate dual energy photon counting technology, enabling accurate discrimination of different materials at an impressive 100 micro-meter resolution. With its dual energy imaging technology, the DC-TDI can be configured to obtain separate information from the low energy X-ray photons and the high energy X-ray photons. This enables separation of materials, so foreign contaminants like bones, glass, and plastic stand out with more clarity during product inspection with conveyor belts speeds of up to 1m per second.