Inspection and weighing solutions
for the meat industry 

by marketing on 13 de December de 2022

Inspection and weighing for meat products 

More and more precise equipment is required to inspect products and ensure consumer and brand protection. Varpe has therefore developed X-ray inspection and checkweighing equipment specifically for this sector, which can be adapted according to format and customer requirements.

X-ray equipment allows for automatic product inspection and makes it possible to locate contaminants that might otherwise go undetected. They even have special algorithms and functions to increase the sensitivity of the detection when necessary, as in the case of bone localisation.

Varpe also has specific checkweighers for weighing products such as chicken breasts or unpackaged hamburgers.

How does X-ray inspection work?

The IRIX X-ray inspection system includes advanced X-ray technology that achieves exceptional levels of detection of ferrous and non-ferrous material, stainless steel, glass, calcified bone, high density plastics, thorns and stones.

In addition to searching for contaminants, it can simultaneously check for damaged packaging, breakage, mass measurements with estimated weight and count items inside the product.

At the moment of inspection, the product moves linearly on a conveyor belt and is passed through an X-ray beam. This generates a digital image which is analysed by Varpe's software.

This system complies with international safety standards governing ionising radiation emissions.

It is homologated as an exempt radioactive facility and fully approved by the Directorate General for Policy and Mines, following approval by the Nuclear Safety Council, with approval number NHM-X224, published in the Official State Gazette No. 90 dated 15 April 2017.

Bone detection solution: Dual Energy

Traditional X-ray systems have difficulty differentiating between product accumulation and product density. They detect foreign objects by means of the information obtained from absorption during X-ray exposure.

However, when product accumulation is present, it is difficult to distinguish whether the absorption is due to accumulation or density, resulting in missed detections and false rejects.

The new Varpe IRIX DV DUAL ENERGY X-ray inspection systems solve this problem with a unique dual energy process.

Varpe's new Dual Energy technology offers improved accuracy in finding low density contaminants such as calcified bones, bones and stones.

Dual Energy technology uses an advanced dual detector generator that uses two energy spectra to obtain low and high energy images respectively.

This type of technology is based on the idea that different materials have different attenuation coefficients against X-rays, depending on the energy applied to them.

Typical applications are:
- Foods where product density and potential contamination are similar. For example, the bone and meat of chicken fillets.
- Products that overlap in a package or bag, where a possible contaminant may be obscured by pieces of product.

Dual Energy Technology applied

As an application example, we can show the problem of bone detection in chicken breasts.

With standard X-ray technology, the small difference in density between an element such as chicken meat and its natural contaminant, such as bone, is only noticeable when the natural contaminant is large.

Hardness should not be confused with density. For example, liquid water has a density of 1 g/cm³ and solid water (ice) has a density of 0.9168 g/cm³. In other words, ice is less dense than water, but the hardness of ice is higher.

This has a lot to do with the way in which X-ray energy interacts as it passes through matter.

The absorption is determined by both the density and the accumulation of the material.

The technique applied for this type of solution consists of using a low level beam scattering generator to obtain a very detailed image and completing the system with a detector that captures an image with different energy values.

The difference between the two images can be seen and is a consequence of the different energy obtained in the capture of the product.

Then, on these two images, a specific algorithm is applied based on the information resulting from the combination of both images.

In this way, the low density foreign element (bone) is easily detectable.

Weighing for meat products

Designed entirely in AISI-304 stainless steel (with the possibility of AISI-316 for highly corrosive environments) with different degrees of IP protection depending on requirements, this V2000 allows safe and accurate weighing of unpackaged meat products, previously guided and timed.

The conveyors of light and robust design provide precision weighing, with several options for subsequent action, either by classifying the product according to defined weight ranges for different channels, or by rejecting unwanted product, either due to lack or excess quantity.

Focused on constant cleaning of the line, the conveyors allow easy disassembly of the belts without the need for tools. The hygienic design (inclined, grooved and curved surfaces) facilitates accessibility and the draining of any substance, both from the cleaning process and the waste that the product itself may generate.

In addition, the equipment includes other elements focused on the food sector such as hygienic feet with height adjustment, and hygienic sealing gaskets in all mobile places or places susceptible to being handled.

Hygienically designed equipment

The hygienic approach in the design, construction, installation and use of x-ray inspection equipment and checkweighers involved in the production process of unpacked meat products is one of the best preventive actions to ensure the safety of the manufactured products and to minimise the risk of problems on the line resulting, for example, from the accumulation of product residues.

Therefore, VARPE manufactures equipment specially designed for unpacked meat applications based on EHEDG concepts. In this equipment, the product flowing through the machine often falls easily on key elements of the equipment and sometimes hinders the proper functioning of the system. The hygienic design avoids this problem.

How is the accumulation of debris solved?

Inclined surfaces
Horizontal surfaces are replaced by inclined shapes so that debris does not accumulate in the machine and does not affect the proper functioning.

Condensation water
Condensation and cleaning water drains outwards without encountering any obstacles.

Micro-stops for adjustment
The equipment periodically performs micro-stops of milliseconds which, without affecting production, are used, for example, to perform zero offsets and waste comparison.

Special settings for checkweighing

- By accumulating less residue, we avoid the possibility of falsifying the zero of the weight.

- By placing the checkweighing cell in the upper part of the equipment, the accumulation of product residues that disturb the weight is avoided.

What are the advantages of this hygienic equipment?

- They are easy to clean and avoid elements such as buttons, valves or screens in the product contact area.
- By avoiding the accumulation of residues on the various machine elements, fewer stops for cleaning are required during production.
- Thanks to the hygienic design, less residue accumulates which can cause problems.

No dead spaces
Dead spaces are avoided as far as technically possible, and drainage, cleaning and disinfection are facilitated if they exist.

Equipment with the highest protection and waterproof classification, prepared to withstand high pressure washing and steam.

Advanced software
The system triggers warnings if the equipment has been idle for too long, such as zero idle, to avoid production failures.

Special adjustments for X-ray equipment

- In case of a hygienic design, X-ray inspection equipment is not fitted with curtains, but still complies with ionising emission safety standards and remains exempt.
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