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With production data driving the digital era, food safety specialist Fortress Technology reviews how, at the push of a button, automated data collection and record keeping provides valuable insight that powers decision making and operational effectiveness on food processing lines. Specifically, how the company’s latest version of Contact 4.0 is helping food plants of all sizes to streamline traceability, test and maintain food safety compliance by offering a single, centralized data capture package.

To encourage a smarter food safety culture, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) placed great emphasis on enhanced recordkeeping, tech-based end-to-end traceability and improved predictive analysis. “A standardized, data-driven approach to traceability recordkeeping helps create a harmonized, universal language of food traceability. This will help pave the way for the industry to adopt and leverage more digital, interoperable, and tech-enabled traceability systems both in the near term and the future,” stated the former FDA Deputy Commissioner and food traceability pioneer Frank Yiannas.

Creating a centralized database of live and recorded data that assists food processors to automate QA documentation, Fortress Technology’s Contact 4.0 monitors the performance of inspection equipment, tracks events and documents all potential product risks. In result, turning potentially massive data streams into tightly monitored operational insight.


Food processors are dependent on accurate data to ensure the distribution of safe food to consumers. The current approach to food safety requires stringent recordkeeping procedures. Automating the entire data logging process, Contact 4.0 helps to remove the risk of human error. It also prompts operators to test inspection equipment.

Manually monitoring food inspection machine performance can be extremely labor intensive and impact productivity. Even those that have upgraded legacy systems continue to gather data on a machine-by-machine basis rather than integrating and analyzing information side-by-side and building up a performance picture.

 “Automated and networked data extraction and real time monitoring are proven to enhance production efficiency and minimize machine downtime,” reflects Eric Garr, Fortress Technology Regional Sales Manager.

A real-time web-based remote machine monitoring solution, Contact 4.0 enables food processors to review, collect data and securely oversee the performance of multiple Fortress metal detectors, checkweighers or combination inspection machines connected on the same network. Developed by the food safety specialist, Contact 4.0 eliminates many of the cumbersome functionality challenges that enterprising companies usually encounter. Notably infrastructure, data storage, security and scalability.

From viewing live event logs and performance verification checks, to quickly accessing records to support a recall event, Contact 4.0 offers processors a robust, simpler and safer way to rapidly stream and share performance data.


Providing secure access via a web appliance and 24/7 monitoring of multiple units, Contact 4.0 sits on the same network as the Fortress digital metal detectors, checkweighers or combination systems. Compiling and communicating data events channeled through a compact web appliance located on the same LAN as the inspection machines, Contact 4.0 complies with all international food safety management standards, including HACCP, BRC and GFSI/SQF.

Food processors can use Contact 4.0 to define and customize their data filters. Rejects, faults, changes in parameters, passed tests, failed tests, are all accurately logged and time stamped for regulatory compliance. Historical or live batch reports from checkweighers can be viewed, which include histograms to provide a visualization of product weight distribution over the production run.

To extract the data, authorized users simply log into the web interface via a browser on any networked device, including laptops and tablets. “This is one of the critical benefits of a web-based interface,” notes Eric. The cohesive reporting system allows relevant staff to troubleshoot performance issues remotely. Reports can be configured and emailed daily, per shift or weekly. Test failure, fault or non-conformity events can trigger an automatic email alert, detailing when an event occurred on a specific machine.

With Contact 4.0, event and machine performance information is stored securely for a minimum of 10 years. There is also the option to extend storage capacity to 20+ years. This can either be located on the internal storage of the appliance or a centralized network database.


Better traceability, accountability, and faster identification and corrective actioning of faults, leads to a safer food supply chain. Investigating contaminant events can be initiated by simply pressing a button.

“For businesses with multiple data sources, web-based solutions offer the level of flexibility and the middleware layer required to collate meaningful information from different machines, with minimal effort or human intervention,” adds Eric.

Fortress intentionally kept the front-end structure simple as it helps to keep data manageable, while delivering meaningful quality oversight for production and quality managers.

Once installed, additional licenses can be added to incorporate more Fortress inspection equipment. Users can also subscribe to receive optional software support and software updates as new features become available.