- THE MAGAZINE
- VERTICAL MARKETS
Tall-profile package inspection will now benefit from a new flexible, easier-to-use and more cost-effective horizontal beam X-ray system. The Thermo Scientific (thermofisher.com) Xpert S400 has been specifically engineered to detect metal, glass, dense plastics and other foreign objects in vertically-oriented containers such as metal cans, plastic bottles, cartons and standup pouches.
“The applications targeted by this new system represent 20-30 percent of the X-ray market. This is a segment where some previously available solutions were expensive, and difficult to install and use,” says Bob Ries, lead product manager, metal detection and X-ray inspection, Thermo Fisher Scientific. “The S400 changes that by providing a very high level of configuration and inspection flexibility at a very attractive price point.”
For example, the Xpert S400’s compact length enables placement into tight production spaces and the X-ray source/detector height easily adjusts to match the customer’s conveyor passing through the inspection tunnel. Easy set-up and use configuration software facilitates quick start up. Specific software algorithms developed for tall profile packages look for contaminants in problem areas such as package edges, bottom center and top. The unit also offers diagnostic functions for quick troubleshooting, customized rejection devices, sanitary design with welded/sloped/polished stainless surfaces and no-lead shielding curtains.
Most commercially-available X-ray units deploy the beam from either the top down or bottom up as the package travels through the detection chamber. However, since X-ray inspection results are more accurate when the beam shoots through the smaller package dimension, tall-profile or upright packages benefit from the improved sensitivity provided by the new system.
In addition to foreign object detection, the Xpert S400 also can analyze an X-ray image to estimate fill level or determine whether a package is dented or has a missing closure. The unit is engineered for high-speed can, bottle, carton and pouch lines of up to 500 packages per minute.
Packages that are tall and lightweight can tip over when passing through the shielding curtains, which are there to eliminate X-ray scatter. Heavier metal containers also can sheer-off the curtains during higher speed production runs. For those applications, the curtains have been eliminated and product is conveyed through the inspection chamber via a series of small ‘chicanes’ or curves. Because X-rays only travel in a straight line, the angles eliminate X-ray scatter from leaving the system.
The unit features a 160W monoblock and a 400mm (15.7-inches) high detector. The detector is available in either 0.8 or 0.4mm resolution, and its suite of algorithms is designed to find small contaminants in complex images with few, if any, false rejects.
The Xpert S400 also features simplified installation compared to earlier models (typically one day vs. several) and is available at a more affordable price point, compared to previous generations.