Matthews’ X-ray guidance, technology sees NFP contract packer gain more SKUs

After gaining a new contract for packing baby food, a not-for-profit (NFP) contract-packing organisation wanted to upgrade its metal detection to ensure product was free of any accidental ferrous pieces.

Having supplied a well-known brand for many years, the NFP packer won additional contracts to pack baby food into foil bags. Contract specifications stipulated the highest possible level of inspection, for both consumer (baby) safety and the brand’s reputation.

Business and process needs

The overall primary business need was that the inspection solution was very easy to operate. Secondary needs included that it integrated into the business’s current production lines, and had easy moveability between different conveyor belts running different products. This would enable greater current and future flexibility, allowing the business to take on more work that needed to be inspected for metals.

The inspection solution needed to be very simple to learn, set up and run, and reliably detect ferrous materials down to 0.6mm in size.


Generally, a metal detector is the most common first choice for finding metal contaminants, and this was initially the organisation’s preferred option because they are simple, reliable, easy to use and cost effective.

Having built a strong relationship, the NFP packer sought and took Matthews’ advice that a metal detector would not provide a strong-enough level of protection because the baby-food packs use a metal-foil film, which inhibits a metal detector’s inspection capability.

As part of their research, the packer tested product with an X-ray at Matthews’ facilities, with excellent results. They subsequently installed an X-ray unit from Matthews, being confident of the technology’s accuracy, reliability and operator ease of use.


Because the X-ray is easy to use, many different staff can operate it. The packer can cost-effectively check every single pack on its production line for pieces of metal of varying sizes — from nuts or bolts (from machinery) right down to contaminants that are 0.6mm in size.

Its mobility, high reliability and accuracy mean staff can easily set up the unit for new products, knowing it meets the specifications. This has allowed the contract packer to use the X-ray machine not only on the initial new product, but a second new baby-food SKU as well.

The X-ray unit’s capability of detecting glass, stone and bone contaminants (items which a metal detector cannot) has proven an added bonus.

As well as its simple operation, the unit’s straightforward maintenance has contributed to the contract packer’s satisfaction with the solution.

This article explains how to avoid false rejects when using metal detection in packaged food.

 You can find more information on product identification technologies in Matthews’ resource library and coding and labelling on the website. All information is free to download.