When making an investment in any capital equipment, it is crucial that the correct equipment is chosen for the task required. This equipment must operate reliably and provide the best possible results for your process. If all of these things happen, then you will ensure the best possible return on your capital investment.
Here are some key things to consider when looking at a metal detector investment both from a reputational and operational view.
The reasons metal detectors are needed in a process environment include:
- Brand protection
- Consumer protection
- Regulatory compliance
- Supermarket Codes of Practice
- Protecting downstream equipment
- Minimising the costs associated with wasted production
Reducing Metal Contamination
Detecting metal contamination is not the only part of an effective metal detection system. Your system should always start with the elimination of any possible sources of contamination. If and when metal is detected, then there must be a system in place to identify the source and where possible remove it as a potential problem.
Detecting large metal pieces such as nuts and bolts, blades from knives and parts of sieves or screens, should be straight forward for even the most basic equipment. These items are found regularly in the production environment but due to their size they are much simpler to detect than some smaller contaminants.
Smaller particles such as flakes, specs or shavings create a bigger challenge both from an elimination as well as a detection perspective. Implementing good practices during equipment installation and maintenance procedures will significantly reduce the possibility of contamination from these activities.
Cost of Implementation
Although there is a significant investment required when implementing a full system, the cost for not having any metal detection in place is likely to be significantly higher.
When a contaminated product is identified before shipment then there will be costs associated with this event, such as raw material wastage, production downtime and rectification costs. However, if a contaminated product is only detected after it has shipped then a new and often more damaging set of costs arise such as those associated with a major product recall, negative publicity, loss of brand and company reputation and cancelled orders. It may even lead to legal action against your organisation.
Dealing with an issue as early as possible and before it becomes a complaint will always be a much more cost effective route for any business. Hence prevention being the first option in the design of any process.
Protecting the Consumer and Your Brand
All consumers have the right to assume that all reasonable steps have been taken to protect them from receiving contaminated and potentially harmful products. An effective metal detection system is therefore a necessity for all producers, particularly in areas such as food and pharmaceutical production. A failure to implement a good system can directly harm the consumer.
Alongside this moral obligation of consumer protection, is the equally important business aim of protecting your brand’s reputation in the marketplace. A well-established brand is a key asset to any business and loss of reputation will have a catastrophic effect on sales.
If the worst does happen and you have well documented procedures and production records, then these can assist in identifying and rectifying any issues and help restore confidence in the supply chain.
Metal detection equipment is a key part of any audit process and is often viewed as major safety feature by your customers. Accurate certification allows you to perform audits successfully whether they are external, internal or linked to your ISO9001:2000 or other form of quality management system.
Many national regulatory and food safety bodies will also require accurate certification of your processes as part of their safety checks and approval processes.
Supermarket Codes of Practice
All of the leading supermarkets have drawn up their own codes of practice that must be complied with by any supplier wishing to sell their products through their distribution channels. The supermarkets also have valuable brands that they wish to protect and hence insist a supplier meets their standards before they are approved. Damaging the reputation of a Supermarket as well as your own will only compound the potential costs and business impact.
There may be no legal necessity to implement a metal detection programme in your production facility but there are many compelling business and moral reasons to do so. As well as protecting your customers and your own brand names, a well designed system allows you to deal with major distributors such as supermarkets and national retailers. It will help establish you as a credible supplier in the market.
Failure to implement such as system closes these routes to market and leaves you vulnerable to both business problems through loss of reputation and in the worst case legal action.
Correctly specifying and identifying the best metal detection system for your process will bring about a strong return on your initial investment and strengthen your business’s reputation.