Bulk-flow product inspection systems typically inspect loose product before it's packaged or added as an ingredient to a finished product. However, in some cases, inspection may take place at the end of the production process to minimize the risk of further contamination.
The benefits of inspecting bulk foods before final processing and packaging are numerous. Contaminants will often be at their largest and most easily detectable at the beginning of the production line. Catching them early may allow manufacturers to recover product and feed it back into the line before further value is added, as well as monitor suppliers' quality control. Additionally, it can also help to save time and money by preventing damage to downstream processing equipment caused by larger contaminants.
When using x-ray technology, contamination detection levels are typically better in the early stages of the production process where unprocessed bulk product can be presented in a shallower depth and with a more uniform (homogeneous) texture than in final sealed packs. In contrast, depth of product doesn't affect metal detection sensitivity. In fact, sensitivity may even be greater when inspecting small packs, compared to loose product. Despite this, metal detectors are ideal for inspecting loose, free-falling product, and sensitivity to all metals is very high, even under conditions with very high throughputs.