Canadian Packaging

Upon Closer Inspection—November 2017, Canadian Packaging

Maximizing the performance and payback of your X-Ray detection technology investment

December 14, 2017
by Chris Young, Business Development Manager, Anritsu Infivis Inc.

Perhaps it’s been a while since you purchased an X-Ray detection system, or this may be your first time. In either case, how do you know how to choose the right system for your business?
Here are a few important guiding principles that will help you choose a system that not only meets your detection goals, but does so in a way that maximizes your ROI (return-on-investment) and OEE (overall equipment effectiveness).

Most buyers today are savvy enough to know there’s more to the cost of X-Ray equipment than just the upfront cost.
If you are upgrading from metal detection to X-Ray inspection, for example, you will want to factor in the ongoing costs of two of the most expensive replacement parts: the tube (also called the generator), and the detector. To account for these ongoing costs, ask about the life expectancy and replacement cost for both parts before you buy. Similar to car buying, you will find some brands have longer-lasting parts than others.

In choosing a system, it always helps to understand how it works. The lifetime of an X-Ray tube can be compared to that of a three-way light bulb, in a sense that the X-Ray tube will always eventually fail after a number of hours of use.
The power setting impacts X-Ray tube longevity, so that the tube will fail sooner when operating at a higher power setting.
But before you think about reducing the power setting to increase the lifetime of the X-Ray tube, you must understand that there is a trade-off.
Reduced power means reduced image quality, and thus poorer detection limits.
From an engineering standpoint, optimizing machines for both high performance and low power use is exceptionally challenging.
That is why most X-Ray machine manufacturers today specialize in either high performance (i.e. finding the smallest contaminants) or low-energy, long-life systems. Historically, machines with high detection capability normally use high amounts of energy and therefore have very low lifetimes, whereas machines using less power typically have poor detection rates.
At least that’s they way it used to be.
Recently, Anritsu Corporation challenged our engineers to develop a solution to reduce power usage while maintaining the high detection level of our machines.
Despite these divergent goals, our engineers succeeded in developing the so-called ALL (Advanced Long Life) technology.
Systems equipped with ALL technology, such as the Anritsu XR75 X-Ray inspection system (pictured above), offer an X-Ray generator and detector with three times the life of conventional models, combined with a new, more efficient cooling system that lessens power consumption by about 20 per cent over the tube’s lifetime.
Hence there is no longer a need to settle for either high performance or lower power usage: you can have both with Anritsu’s ALL technology.

One misconception we often hear from buyers is the belief that a machine just needs to be “good enough” to meet your detection specification.
Many buyers are unaware that extra performance capability beyond your specification is a valuable asset.
But let’s consider an example of comparing three detection systems that detect stainless steel at 0.7-mm (System A), 1.0-mm (System B), and 1.5-mm (System C) respectively.
If your detection goal is to detect stainless steel at 1.5-mm and greater, it may appear that any of these systems is a suitable detection solution, assuming all the other factors like equipment cost, reliability, etc., are equal.
However, what many buyers don’t realize is that superior detection capability of Systems A and B that detect smaller contaminants than your specification level can be “converted” to improve a machine’s capability to reduce false rejects by enabling your machine to be set at a lower sensitivity level.
In this light, System A offers the best solution in terms of reaching your detection performance specification and significantly decrease false rejects.
And why should you care about false rejects?
With the continued trend of downward cost pressures in the industry, food processors are increasingly paying attention to line efficiency using measures such as OEE, with many production plants treating OEE as a key performance indicator to their operational metrics.
Boosting the yield of production lines by reducing false rejects is an efficient way to increase the output of an operation without the capital costs and space required to install additional lines.
The OEE metric is comprised of three factors: machine uptime, process yield, and speed to determine overall effectiveness of equipment.
Essentially, false rejects are a waste of good product, which directly impacts process yield and thus OEE of the line.
That’s why X-Ray systems with superior detection capability (i.e. smaller than your specification) will improve your process yield by reducing false rejects.
In addition to reducing false rejects, superior detection capability also provides the flexibility to have a higher level of detection on an “as-needed” basis in extreme scenarios where line operators know that something accidentally dropped into a batch—allowing them to increase detection levels for the period of time to ensure the detection of such contaminants.

While performance and cost are the most important criteria, customers are increasingly requesting clean design to streamline sanitation processes and eliminate hiding places for biological contaminants.
Design features such as easy parts removal/attachment, easy-to-clean conveyors, one-touch removal of shield curtains, and removal/attachment of rollers without tools, can all streamline the cleaning processes. At the end of the day, more efficient cleaning contributes to better ROI performance.

Chris Young is business development manager with the Elk Grove Village, Ill.-based Anritsu Infivis Inc. subsidiary of Anritsu Corporation, globally-operating manufacturer of X-Ray, checkweighing and metal detection technologies headquartered in Kanawaga, Japan.