FT System offers a new, unique solution in the technological market for the food sector. What are the characteristics that mean it can be called that?
“We have managed to integrate the food industry’s most requested visual inspections with our innovative technologies in a single point of the production line. We are, in fact, the only company on the market able to combine control of whether there are any micro- holes on welding on 100% of production with inspection of the label and packaging. The micro-holes are detected using an innovative IR spectroscope application that intercepts any leakage of gas tracers contained naturally in the package. A physical system that enables detection of something that a visual system cannot check. In fact, these holes are not visible to the human eye nor even to an industrial vision system. To check the label and packaging we use vision systems and can analyse multiple aspects: the presence of product in the welding, the presence/absence of mandatory information or reading it, for example the best by date and the batch code, using character recognition systems (OCR), and the correspondence between product packed and the label on it. I will explain this last point better: for example, let’s take a tray of pasta which, in the second packaging stage, has a card label wound round it with information for the consumer. During production the tray could always be the same even if the filling changes. Therefore it would be important to check that the card applied is the correct one for the type of pasta produced at that moment.
That is why our solution is unique. It enables the company to concentrate all inspections needed to guarantee product quality in just one machine. Another innovative technology we apply to packaging control uses hyperspectral cameras. This allows us to check for organic material in the welding even with film or coloured packaging, matt or non-transparent, a factor blocking visual control. Packaging often has to satisfy marketing needs and cannot be optimal for inspections of what is visible: with this technology that works with infra-red we can respond to both needs”.
The market is responding well to this novelty. Which consumer and company needs are being satisfied by integrating this solution on the line?
“With this solution we are covering the company’s need to perform quality controls in a single point of production occupying limited amount of space, and to apply innovative technologies that improve product preservation and quality, reducing the risk of returns and complaints, with greater guarantees for consumers in food safety terms. With the line micro-hole control, we respond to the need to avoid mould or changes to the organoleptic characteristics of products through oxygen getting into the package. With the further benefit of being able to check in real time that the packaging process is correct and intervene if needed to increase line efficiency. Control of label data satisfies the need to respond to legal obligations and avoid returns. Other controls can have an aesthetic purpose, like checking the product on welding which does not always cause a hole or micro-hole, but still compromises the sale of the product on shelves. To sum up, we satisfy the company requests in safety and quality terms for the product sold, production efficiency, relations with mass distribution and with the end consumer”.
Is control that the label corresponds with the food product packed something that companies ask for a lot?
“Yes, we often get that request. Labelling errors can happen, through lack of mandatory information or, even worse, by labelling a product with the wrong label. In this case it is not just a labelling error problem, though still involves a return or having to withdraw products; it also involves the consumer safety factor if the product should contain potentially allergenic substances. Just think of a can of soy labelled as maize or barley by mistake. Besides economic damage there could be important consequences for consumer health and brand reputation. That is why company attention on this point is extremely high. FT System can offer effective solutions to control this risk, and which can be integrated with innovative technologies and solutions”.