The need to equip food processing lines with top-quality checkweighing equipment is more pressing than ever before, says Kerstin Bernhart, head of marketing & product management at Mettler-Toledo Garvens. All manufacturers around the globe must comply with regulatory standards, minimise product giveaway and waste to reduce costs and ensure consumer confidence about the accuracy of the weight of the products they purchase. In this climate, brand owners have to take every measure necessary to safeguard the reputation of their products and improve the efficiency of production lines
In order to comply with legislation, reduce product waste, safeguard consumer confidence and protect your brand, certain steps must be taken. Below is an easy checklist of your route to optimum checkweighing.
Understand the regulations
The first step in satisfying food regulations and standards is to acquire a full understanding of what they entail, and which particular ones apply to your organisation. It’s important to select equipment and suppliers that can ensure compliance and have knowledge of global quality standards, regional differences and industry variations.
Checkweighers must satisfy legislation implemented by national regulators in their ability to guarantee process and product security. Metrological regulations and guidelines such as the Measuring Instruments Directive (MID) in Europe have a significant impact on checkweighing purchasing decisions. In many cases, it is also important to choose technology and equipment that adheres to the demands of your specific industry.
The requirements heaped upon manufacturers do not end with food safety legislation, global certification schemes and process-specific standards. Checkweighers play a pivotal role in meeting trading standards like weights and measures, and innovative, centralised product inspection device management helps to placate Western retailers who have their own, individual sets of standards, such as Tesco, and Marks and Spencer.
Know your product
Accurate weighing is vital for all industries. It can minimise product giveaway, benefiting the manufacturer by reducing waste and costs, and it can also help reduce the risk of product underfill, which can lead to consumer dissatisfaction, potentially to fines and official sanctions and ultimately to loss of brand reputation. It is necessary, therefore to understand the needs of your production line to ensure you select the most accurate checkweighing system for your operation and to ensure the optimum performance from that system.
With this in mind, you must turn your focus to the nature of your product. Is it liquid, powdered or solid? Is it dry or wet? Loose or packed? Is it packaged in bottles, cans, cartons, or bags? Is the product individually wrapped or in bulk loose flow? All of these factors can affect weighing accuracy and require different solutions to ensure optimum checkweighing.
Different packaging formats require different handling solutions to ensure weighing accuracy. Checkweighers are often designed with specific packaging, product size, or product shape in mind and you need to be aware of the needs of your product when selecting the correct weighing technology. For example, rigid packages with consistent footprints, such as cartons, run well over chain conveyors, whereas bags usually run better on belts. Guide rails are recommended to stabilise items that are greater in height, while round products require timing screws to space products prior to reaching the weighing cell.
The transfer of products from the production line to the checkweigher is also important, as any vibrations will have a negative effect on weighing accuracy. It is vital that you select the correct solution to ensure the transfer is as smooth as possible. There are several solutions for this problem, including dovetail transfers for unstable products, or side grip transfers for tall items. Market-leading checkweighing solutions can be customised to ensure all of these requirements are met. The use of the correct rejection device for the product can also help minimise unnecessary vibrations.
Rely on the experts
The purchase of a checkweigher best suited to your line needs can appear, on first sight, a daunting task. Plus, with food safety regulations changing continually, there is an added pressure on manufacturers to stay up-to-date with the latest developments, and bring in the latest technologies to meet the new required standards.
In order to eliminate confusion, and select the most appropriate checkweighing solution, you need a partner you can rely on. You should be able to call on an equipment provider with the worldwide expertise necessary to give close consultation on optimum systems, corrective actions, and the ability to provide the best solution available to carry them out.
One-stop-shops and bespoke solutions are ideal for manufacturers with varying production demands, allowing for the ideal checkweighing systems, whilst also offering the ability to easily ramp up or down as production demands change.
On the path to quality
The choice of the ideal checkweighing system can be overwhelming as it depends on so many factors, from product characteristics to regulations and standards. The steps above can provide guidance on this important decision to ensure quality products, productivity and compliance.
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