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April 1, 2023


With wholesale food and ingredient prices continuing to climb steadily pushing UK inflation to a 30-year high, retailers, wholesalers and consumers alike continue to feel the pinch. This erosion of purchasing muscle coupled with a zero-waste lifestyle is prompting savvy shoppers to adopt a budget and bulk buying attitude. To help address these multiple issues, food safety and inspection specialist Fortress Technology is zeroing in on waste with its Big Bag range.

Comprising the Stealth Big Bag Metal Detector and the new Raptor XL Caseweigher, both systems can operate as standalone machines. Yet, combined the Fortress Big Bag range can assist all bulk manufacturers and ingredient buyers to eliminate costly returns and recalls.

Engineered to accurately and repeatably inspect for metal contaminants and verify the weight of heavier products, including sacks of pet food, garden supplies, bulk foods, grains and large case applications weighing up to 25 kilograms, the rugged ‘no fuss’ Big Bag range helps bulk producers to control fill and distribute the highest quality products to end users. For even larger applications, Fortress can also supply a heavy duty 50 kilogram version.

“Given the squeeze on supply chain margins, absorbing the additional logistics, energy and ingredient costs is having a huge impact on pricing strategies and profits for bakers, confectioners, producers of chilled meals, condiments, healthy eating and wellbeing products,” observes Fortress commercial manager Jodie Curry. As testament, the Global Wholesale Food Price Index posted the most significant rises between June 2020 and June 2021, reporting the greatest increases in fats and oils (+42.2%), beef (+41.4%), pork (+32.7%), processed poultry (+27.4%), seafood (+18.8%), eggs (+16.3%) and flour (+12.7%). These rises show no sign of abating any time soon claim industry analysts.

Incomparable sensitivity

Protecting consumer confidence while maintaining brand integrity, the rugged Fortress Bulk Metal Detector is the only large metal inspection system worldwide to dramatically reduce the detector’s susceptibility to radio frequency (RF) interference.

Combined with its special coil structure and advanced electronics, the bulk metal detector can detect 2.0 mm stainless steel in most bulk packs of dry product. It also detects ferrous and non-ferrous metal as small as 1.5 mm.

To address the prevalence of loud industrial equipment and transport vehicles in bulk factories, the Fortress Big Bag range is engineered to overcome and filter out environmental vibrations and extraneous noise.

The metal detector’s extra-rugged outer casing is designed to suppress vibration caused by other equipment running in close proximity to the metal detector, which can interfere with signals leading to false rejects. Likewise, the Raptor XL’s dynamic load cell technology and micro-resistors are optimised for a high natural resonance as each bulk product passes onto the 500mm-wide weighing belt.

Having the choice of aluminium epoxy painted or stainless-steel casing also ensures long-term reliability and performance in heavy processing environments and plants.

Reduced return rates

Checkweighing up to 60 units a minute, including sacks, bulk boxes, kegs and drums, the new Raptor XL can weigh products of virtually any shape or size. Featuring highly responsive brushless DC motors for long-lasting 24/7 operation and the latest dynamic load cell sensors for weighing accuracy, the dependable in-line system helps manufacturers and bulk distributors to close the quality loop, comply with trading weight standards and minimise return rates.

In addition to delivering premium inspection and weight checks, Fortress offers various reject and conveying systems to remove primary and secondary bulk packages efficiently and smoothly from a line, with minimal damage. Providing weight rejects have not been damaged or contaminated, bulk product can be reworked to further reduce waste.

Rapid payback

Even nominal overfilling can rapidly escalate to lost profits, states Fortress Commercial Manager Jodie Curry. “The level of control digital checkweighing gives versus batch checks on a fixed scale means the savings in reduced giveaway is very quick, especially in bulk weight products. With the Raptor XL we would estimate payback in just several months, if not quicker,” notes Jodie.

For maximum efficiency, modular Fortress electronics suite allows for full upstream and downstream coupling of the system with other automation packaging equipment. The ability to configure the reject collection system, with multiple options including Belt-Stop-Alarm, heavy duty kickers or an overhead sweep, further boosts the versatility of the Big Bag range.

Featuring sophisticated data capture and reporting software and a single industrial sized touch screen HMI panel, bulk manufacturers can view and extract business critical statistics at the touch of a button. Offering clear visual prompts, quality managers can select the most valuable processing and performance data tags, for example rejects, weight and speed, and feed all this data seamlessly back into enterprise networks to inform future inspection, quality control and wholesale supply and logistics decisions.