What’s the key to reducing cost and increasing consumer safety in today’s FMCG industry? Precision. However, production lines are not always perfect – even when they’re fully automated. So how can you ensure that any problems are quickly detected, identified and corrected before the goods leave the plant?
Ultimately, it comes down to protection: protecting the consumer and protecting the brand. As FMCG manufacturers strive to meet the ever-more-rigorous requirements of consumers, retailers and industry, they are investing in technologies that give this protection – advanced inspection systems that will check, detect and respond quickly to any problems. These solutions can also improve your bottom line.
So which inspection technologies are worth the investment? Below are three essential inspection technologies, proven to optimise quality, efficiency and profitability for FMCG manufacturers.
1) You need to check packaging + labelling = vision inspection
As industry standards for packaging and labelling become more stringent, the demand for vision inspection technology is increasing. Why? Because vision inspection helps ensure only quality products leave your plant. Depending on the manufacturer’s needs, a vision inspection system can deliver QA in several ways. As an example, Matthews’ vision inspection systems have the capacity to:
- inspect the presence, position and formation of a code (date code, barcode, etc.)
- validate the presence and position of labels (see here for nine ways label inspection systems ensure zero-defect labels)
- check closures of tamper seals, correct caps by colour, etc.
- detect fill levels in bottles or jars, and the packaging’s content
- sort food and beverage products based on marking
- count products
These are all tasks that are practically impossible for people to do reliably and consistently. You can also tie a vision inspection system into your automated processes to reduce production-line errors that might end up ruining an entire batch of goods.
Think they’re out of reach financially? The cost of even the most elaborate vision inspection system is negligible considering the savings they can deliver. (You may find this best practice guide to inspection systems interesting.)
2) You need to reduce waste + overfill = checkweigh
Every company wants to reduce costs on the manufacturing line, and weighing precision can help you here. In fact, the more accurate your weighing machine is, the more money you can save. Consider a packet of chips: saving a tiny amount of overfill in just one bag mightn’t add up to much; but in a big batch, it can amount to big cost savings. And that’s where checkweigh comes in.
Checkweigh technology sits at the end of the line; it can precision weigh at high speeds to ID overweight and underweight products and remove them from the line.
By inspecting portion control of a packaged product, checkweighers ensure that every pack leaving your factory door is within the specified weight range. Because they eliminate unnecessary product waste, they ultimately reduce costs. Checkweigh can also help manufacturers detect issues with product overfill on the production line, so you can correct the problem quickly and save costs.
In the past, checkweigh systems didn’t have the accuracy with small consumer goods (such as nuts and confectionary) that they had with larger goods. However, the latest systems have more precise technology so you can weigh high-value, small target-weight goods at high speeds. Just as an example, Matthews’ range includes checkweigh systems especially designed for low-weight goods from just 10g up to 15kg.
3) You need to reduce contamination + protect against recalls = metal detection + x-ray inspection
Every week another food or drink recall hits Australian headlines – contamination is frequently the cause. It’s no wonder then, that more and more FMCG manufacturers are using X-ray inspection and metal-detection systems to eliminate the threat of food contamination and — essentially — protect their brand from product recalls and withdrawals.
Among the biggest culprits for food contamination are metal and non-magnetic stainless steel. However, today’s metal-detection technology is extremely effective: even products with high moisture content or packaged in metallised film can be checked with advanced metal-detection systems.
But metal isn’t the only culprit: glass, stone, high-density plastics and rubber and other contaminants can also make their way into packaging. X-ray inspection equipment can ID foreign bodies by evaluating density throughout the product and packaging — including through thick foil pouches and cans. Advanced x-ray systems can inspect virtually any packaged product — even those with contaminants embedded right in the product. (You may also find this whitepaper on avoiding recalls interesting. It’s free to download.)
Quick guide: which inspection technologies for FMCG?
When choosing the right inspection system, here are few key things to consider:
- Efficiency: It’s essential that the system can keep pace with ultra-fast production lines. More inspections at higher rates.
- Integration: This is a must-have for manufacturers looking to increase efficiencies. For example, Matthews vision inspection systems can be integrated into coding and labelling systems to automate the entire packaging process – with everything managed by iDSnet, Matthews’ packaging code management solution.
- Flexibility: Choose a system that can be scaled to meet your needs today and in the future. For example, Bizerba checkweighers are easily adaptable and can be expanded as required.
- Installation: Choose a supplier who will work with you to find the right product for your needs and ensure it is set up exactly how you want it.
For more information on inspection systems for FMCGs, call Matthews on 1300 CODING (1300 263 464) or EMAIL US