Ishida X-ray inspection technology is helping to maintain the premium quality reputation of one of Russia’s most popular traditional snack brands.
The ‘ROSTRAGROEXPORT’ company was founded by Mr Boris Aleksandrov in 1995, who spotted a niche in the Russian food market for a good quality traditional curd snack. Its ‘B.Y. Aleksandrov’ brand, named after the company’s founder, represents the ‘ideal’ curd bar created using only the finest natural ingredients. Currently there are 16 different kinds of ‘B.Y. Aleksandrov’ bars covered with the finest milk, dark or white Belgian chocolate. The range also includes a special set of 6 small chocolate-covered sweet cottage cheese bars with a small board game or toy.
Because the ‘B.Y. Aleksandrov’ brand is positioned as the highest quality product on the Russian dairy market, maintaining impeccable quality control is the key requirement for the ‘ROSTRAGROEXPORT’ company.
After production the cottage cheese bars are sealed in the ‘flow-pack’ foil and are then placed in individual small carton boxes. Following this, packages of 12 individual boxes are formed. There is no possibility to use common metal detectors for quality control as the ‘flow-pack’ foil is metallized. More significantly, the metal detectors are not able to identify if a product has any glass or plastic insertions broken or empty packaging.
The Ishida IX-GA-4075 X-ray inspection system is able to perform a number of quality control procedures. It can detect potential contaminants in the curd bars, such as metal parts from the production machinery, metal flakes which may be present from the containers in which sugar is stored, and stones from the harvesting of the raisins. The system can also spot damaged packs, and uses weight estimation to identify missing packs or items, for example missing toys in the children packs.
The IX-GA-4075 is operating reliably in conjunction with current line speeds of up to 60 packs per minute in a 24/7 production environment.
Key to the machine’s versatility is Ishida’s unique Genetic Algorithm (GA) technology, which uses image data analysis over a number of inspections to build up a more precise calibration protocol. Any case that is out of the protocol is memorized as a problem and is rejected. This enables permanent or common recurring defects to be more easily identified and their location in the pack to be pinpointed.
The ‘ROSTRAGROEXPORT’ company representatives say the Ishida IX-GA-4075 delivers a number of important competitive benefits. “The X-ray system’s ability to successfully detect all types of contaminants is a vital safety check, which is particularly essential for a product so popular among adults and children,” explains Mr Pavel Kubakhov, head of innovations and new technologies department.
“No less important is the fact that the high level of quality assurance is necessary for the supermarkets and retail chains that we deal with. Due to our X-ray system, we have a full record of every pack inspection so we can prove the quality of our product and packaging, which is useful in the event of any subsequent consumer complaint.”
“The Ishida IX-GA-4075 is performing extremely reliably,” says Mrs Lubov Lukashevitch, head of cottage cheese bars production. “Since its installation, we have had no problems or breakdowns. The machine is configured with software in Russian and is extremely easy to operate and maintain. We have inputted 40 presets, and changeovers between products for inspection take just a few seconds.”
Above all the IX-GA-4075 represents a sound investment for the company. “Ultimately you cannot put a price on quality or the cost implications if quality levels fall in any way”, concludes Mr Kubakhov. “On that basis alone, there is no question that the machine will have paid for itself.”
For the moment up to 400,000 packs of ‘B.Y. Aleksandrov’ bars are produced daily, representing around 30% of the company’s total production. Since its launch in 2008, total production has grown eight times.