By connecting all of a company's metal detectors on one system, high-volume bakers can ensure its detectors are operating correctly in real time. This system also eliminates written report logs and human error.
From the makeup and packaging departments to the distribution warehouse, metal detectors represent some of the most common and abundant pieces of equipment in a high-volume bakery. Why then, do so many bakeries fail to properly train their employees on the correct operating procedures of these systems?
Properly training production line employees the basic principles of metal detection does not produce a concrete return on investment, which causes some bakers to skip this necessary training. However, the value of a metal detector in proper operating condition provides a return on investment that cannot be measured on an accounting spreadsheet.
According to one metal detector manufacturer's online training guide, the first step in training employees on proper metal detector use is familiarizing them with the equipment and how it operates. Metal detectors detect all metals, including ferrous, non-ferrous and stainless steel. Ferrous metals include iron and steel. In bakeries, ferrous metal contaminants include staples, screws, welding slag and rust. Non-ferrous metals include all other metals such as aluminum, copper and brass. In food manufacturing, non-ferrous metals come from copper wire and aluminum foil. Stainless steel metals from broken machine parts, pipe threads and mixer abrasion also can contaminate food products.
After familiarizing employees with the basic principles of metal detection, a production manager should instruct the employees on measuring the sensitivity of the metal detector. This process determines the size of metal that the metal detector will detects.
After setting the sensitivity level, employees should be taught how to test a metal detector. According to the metal detector training guide, "It is necessary to test a metal detector to be sure that it is working properly at the agreed sensitivity."
To test metal detectors, bakers send products that contain metal test pieces of a defined size through the machine. One metal detector manufacturer recommends testing the metal detectors at the beginning of each shift, and every two to four hours after that. Detectors also should be tested during a product changeover.
After testing the metal detectors, the results should be maintained to provide confirmation that detectors were working properly and within company guidelines. These records should be kept in case of a customer complaint or audit.
To maximize the potential of metal detectors, one company recently launched a software program designed to network multiple metal detectors to a central computer. This program allows bakeries to access real time information for every metal detector in a plant. The system also connects metal detectors in different plants throughout the country. Besides ensuring that all metal detectors are working properly, the software system also eliminates report logs and human error.