Pipeline system tipped to create a Sparc

grey machine

SPARC Systems has designed a pipeline x-ray solution to meet the demands of the food safety requirements within the protein and dairy sectors.

The Iris inspection system can detect contaminants in vacuum filled and pumped products.
Sparc said one of the key challenges facing the food industry is how best to maintain productivity while providing consumers with safe, uncontaminated products.

The manufacturer explained that good manufacturing practice that complies with regulatory standards has ‘shifted’ from addressing to preventing any physical hazards before they enter the supply chain.

Utilising x-ray technology, the Iris Pipeline inspection system identifies a variety of physical hazards including bones, teeth, metal, glass, ceramics, and high-density plastic in muscle meats, slurries, semi solids, and fluids.

Sparc said the high resolution of the 0.4mm X-ray sensor allows it to detect foreign materials with sensitivity levels that ‘outperform any current technology’.

Any product shown to contain contaminant on the display screen is immediately rejected from the system before it is transferred downstream. A fully integrated, servo actuated rotary reject valve is described as providing ‘accurate and repeatable’ reject performance.

“This makes it fast and precise,”

said Sparc’s European sales manager Charlie Graham. “Even though the Iris x-ray matches the speed of the pump, only a small amount of contaminated product is ever rejected.”
The coronavirus pandemic has put firmly into focus the importance of maintaining the highest standards of hygiene.

Although there is currently no evidence that the virus can be transmitted via food, Sparc said transmission via surfaces recently contaminated with viruses is, nonetheless, possible through smear infections.

“Pipelines can be inherently difficult to sanitise,” Charlie added. “The Iris x-ray is completely different to anything else on the market as it has a magnetic centre piece which operatives can literally pull out, clean and reinsert.”

machine being cleaned
The magnetic centre piece can be removed for cleaning

The latest FDA advice confirms that cleaning routines on frequently touched surfaces, including workstations, countertops, doors and equipment, should be maintained. But no additional disinfection, or special cleaning agents, is necessary.

Charlie said the Iris is one of the only inspection pipeline systems he has encountered to-date with a three-way electric valve that allows test pieces to be inserted into the product flow to provide a true performance reading.

Sparc fits all of its x-ray systems with 6mm thick steel sheeting.

As well as helping manufacturers to comply with HACCP protocols and other food safety standards, a further benefit of the system is that it addresses the increasingly topical issue of food waste. By inspecting pumped product and rejecting contaminants prior to packaging and processing, Sparc explained the potential for wasted packaging materials and product loss caused by the removal of contaminants after packaging is eradicated.

Rather than using compressed air, the system features electric servo drives to facilitate faster inspection and accurate rejection, at the standard 200 ppm.

To aid set up times and ease of use across mixed product lines, the Iris can be integrated into an existing rigid or flexible piping system or placed behind a vacuum filling machine, and is available in three models: 1 ½, 2 ½ and 6 inch.

Sparc said average throughput for muscle meats, slurries, semi solids and fluids is up to 14,000 kg per hour for meat and poultry applications.