Seafood packer invests in X-ray inspection of scallops
A French seafood packer has installed an Ishida X-ray inspection system to monitor frozen scallops before they enter the packing process. Aside from its contribution to quality control, the new system is seen as an important marketing tool because of the reassurance it provides to customers.
Every year Packopale, based at Boulogne-sur-Mer, packs up to 8,000 tonnes of frozen seafood, including shrimp, seafood cocktail and various forms of salmon.
Frozen scallops account for about one third of its production. These highly-prized plankton-eaters have to be in perfect condition for the consumer. They are caught, shelled, eviscerated and washed in Canada or Argentina, then frozen for their transatlantic journey. By the time they arrive at Packopale (via a refrigerated tunnel from Norfrigo, the associated company next door) they will therefore be largely free of shell fragments and of grit from the sea floor.
An extra level of security
By incorporating an Ishida IX-GA-4075 high-performance X-ray inspection system into their process, Packopale have introduced a new level of certainty for their customers, who already have the reassurance of bacteriological monitoring before and after packing.
In addition to grit and shell, the IX-GA-4075 is also capable of detecting, at very low levels, much rarer contaminants such as steel, aluminium, tin, glass, stones, hard rubber, plastic and bone.
Four product channels
The belt that passes through the IX-GA-4075 inspection chamber is divided into four 100mm-wide channels. A separate 400mm-wide belt, at a slightly higher level, brings the product to the inspection system. As the product falls off the end of this single belt, a set of funnels divides it into four streams, each feeding one of the four inspection channels.
This arrangement means that the location of any foreign matter can immediately be narrowed down to one of the four channels. The contents of that channel can be diverted while the other three carry on, so that the volume of scallops rejected is limited and overall production is not halted.
The IX-GA-4075 incorporates Ishida’s unique genetic algorithm technology, which allows the routine operator, without specialist assistance, to ‘train’ the X-ray inspection system for greater detection sensitivity to specific, known contaminants. It also has integrated product masking and weight estimation functions.
A policy of continuous improvement
Once packed, the scallops are returned to Norfrigo, which is the leading European cold storage centre for seafood and has a capacity of 25,000 pallets, the largest in France.
Packopale handles all aspects of seafood packing, including cutting, weighing, bagging and labelling, and continuously seeks to improve the services it offers its customers, which include France’s top supermarkets and wholesalers. The company has 40 employees and a turnover of €3 Million.
It has made considerable investments in plant and machinery in recent years. For example, the company recently acquired an Ishida multihead weigher to prepare seafood cocktail, one of its most widely known products. The 20-head machine takes four separate infeeds (shrimp, scallops, calamari and mussels) and delivers very accurately balanced 500g and 1kg weighments at 40 packs per minute.
Managing Director Gregory Condette admits that this previous experience influenced his decision to buy the Ishida IX-GA-4075.
“My objective with this X-ray inspection system was to reassure my current customers and to take market share from the competition by offering an additional level of security,” he adds.