When you think about metal detectors, what comes to mind is probably someone’s crazy, pale, shoobie uncle scanning the beach for lost toe rings. maybe you think about metal detectors as a piece in some amateur archaeological dig. Still nerdy.
In truth, metal detectors are used in countless ways that have a direct impact on you, me, and billions of people around the world every day! For the most part, these flexible devices are used to make the world around us safer.
They’re used for to check for potential explosives, for weapons, even for metal that might be in the way when building or demolishing homes. And they’re not just used by one group. Anyone from a typical consumer to construction workers to the military could be monitoring these devices.
What might surprise you is how metal directors are used in the food industry. And these aren’t just some handheld devices that you can pick up at Walmart. In fact, they’re far from it.
Why does the food industry need metal detectors?
As you might imagine, consuming metal isn’t exactly a doctor-recommended health regimen. And with the massive manufacturing operations that create, produce, and distribute our food, there is ample opportunity for trace amounts of metal to slip off machines and into our food.
Since everything’s moving way too fast on far too large a scale for people to inspect every last gram, the food industry relies heavily on metal detectors. As technologies continue to advance, these metal detectors continue to become more and more sensitive.
Today’s models are far better than those of years past, which means food is arguably safer for you, me, and our families than ever before. Metal detectors add a tremendous amount of screening power to our food, although, we can’t ignore the possibility that a particle or two could slip through from time to time.
What kind of metal detectors does the food industry use?
There are two basic types of metal detectors used in the food industry today. You’ve got the Balanced Coil system and the magnetic Ferrous-in-Foil system. While different, each serves a valuable purpose in maintaining food safety.
Balanced Coil System
This one is more or less what you’d expect it to be. There are three coils. The middle coil creates a screening field between the two outside coils, or receivers.
When anything magnetic or conductive (at least one of which is a trait in all metals) passes through that field, the receivers pick up on it so someone can get that product out of there. Since it’s so simple and so effective, the Balanced Coil system is more commonly used.
Basically, this system detects anything with iron it (ferrous metals), which also includes steel and magnetic stainless steel. It’s often used in factories that produce TV dinners, or just about any other food with aluminum packing (which is a non-ferrous material).
While the Balanced Coil system screens, the Ferrous-in-Foil system uses a powerful electromagnet to detect metals. When something magnetic flows through the line, the system alerts whoever’s monitoring it so they can remove the product.
Why are these metal detectors so important in today’s food industry?
It’s somewhat comforting to think back on a time when everything was handmade, and there likely wasn’t a need for these technologies. But that’s not how things are today.
Today, there are lots of people to feed, and giant production lines that have been built to solve solve that need. Metal detectors are an inevitable - and necessary - piece of that growth.
With millions, possibly billions of units being processed every year, we need this powerful equipment to keep us safe, and to keep the brands we buy from reliable. It might be strange to think that we need metal detectors for our food. But aren’t you so glad we have them?
Published by Kenneth Burke