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August 5, 2022


In the digital data stack, tethering multiple front-end production machines to back-end reporting software in real time is a key step towards implementing AI and the future Smart Factory concept. Food safety and contaminant detector innovator Fortress Technology has unveiled its newest digital reporting feature that aggregates these production interactions and scenarios – Contact 4.0.

Decoupling automated data logging and record keeping from legacy networks, Contact 4.0 utilizes web-based architecture to capture valuable production data from across an entire suite of networked Fortress inspection machines. Creating a centralized repository of live and recorded data that assists food processors to automate QA documentation, Contact 4.0 monitors the performance of equipment, tracks events and documents all potential product risks. Turning potentially massive data streams into tightly monitored operational insight.

A real-time web-based remote machine monitoring solution, Contact 4.0 enables food plants to review and collect data and securely oversee the performance of an unlimited number of Fortress metal detectors, checkweighers and combination machines connected on the same network. Eliminating many of the cumbersome functionality concerns enterprising companies usually encounter. Notably infrastructure, data storage, security and scalability.

Providing secure access via a web appliance and 24/7 monitoring of multiple units, Contact 4.0 is a networked connected device that increases the agility of food processors. Sitting on the same network as the metal detector and/or checkweigher, Contact 4.0 compiles and communicates data events via the network connection.

Storing data on the appliance itself, or optionally a network location specified by the end user, Contact 4.0 overcomes data science drudgery, exporting dashboards and generating meaningful reports. All of which can be saved for future reference to support product traceability, as well as being automatically emailed out to the accountable plant staff to address time critical events and minimize machine downtime.

Rather than react to production scenarios, Fortress customers with Contact 4.0 installed and communicating with digital Stealth and Interceptor metal detectors, plus the company’s new Raptor checkweighing series, can view and extract time-stamped data reports whenever they want, and in the format that is most closely aligned to their common reporting standards.

Being a web based interface, authorized users simply log into the browser from any networked device, including laptops and tablets. By creating this cohesive reporting system, production, QA and maintenance managers can troubleshoot a performance issue without having to be physically in front of the metal detector. Reports can be configured and emailed daily, per shift or weekly. Test failure or fault events trigger an email alert, detailing when an event occurred on a specific machine.

Ushering in smarter machine monitoring

Digitizing processes that have largely been paper-based is a fundamental step change in building sturdier supply chains and reporting processes. Regional Sales Manager at Fortress Technology Eric Garr explains: “Manually monitoring food inspection machine performance can be extremely labor intensive and impact productivity. Even food processors 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,” adds Eric

Facilitating remote management of an unlimited number of metal detectors and checkweighers within a company’s global IT network, Contact 4.0 provides a robust, simpler and safer way to rapidly stream and share performance data within the firewall of a business network.

Eric expands: “Fortress digital conveyor, gravity, pipeline and combination metal detectors and checkweighers are equipped with optional machine sensors to further increase monitoring capability. The type of events captured by Contact 4.0 include faults relating to reject confirmation, and the status of bin doors, air pressure, infeed and encoders. When faults occur, email alerts are automatically circulated to production managers to address.” Additionally, production personnel can use the ‘live view’ feature to observe data relating to average weights and giveaway across multiple Raptor checkweighers connected across the network.

Compliant with all international food safety management standards, including HACCP, BRC and GFSI/SQF, Contact 4.0 provides Fortress customers with an additional layer of security. Polling each machine type over the networked connection, authorized machine operatives can view events remotely or away from the machine, as they occur. Issuing immediate instructions to colleagues on site to take action.

“Extrapolating time-series statistical and production data, Contact 4.0 addresses the demand for fast-loading and responsive actions, as well as scalable solutions. 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 platforms with minimal effort or human intervention,” expands Eric.

Event and machine performance information is stored securely for a minimum of 10 years, with the option to extend storage capacity to 20+ years. Data can be automatically transferred from the machine fleet to a centralized computer via a secure, password protected connection.

Contact 4.0 can be installed or retrofitted for a minimal fee on all the company’s digital Stealth, Interceptor and Interceptor DF metal detectors, as well as the Raptor Checkweigher, Raptor XL Caseweigher and Raptor Combination unit.