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June 6, 2023


With wholesale food and ingredient prices continuing to spike and push food inflation even higher, grocery stores, wholesalers, food processors and consumers alike continue to feel the pinch. This erosion of purchasing muscle coupled with a zero-waste lifestyle is prompting thrifty 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 Large Bag range.

Comprising the Stealth Large 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, suppliers 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 (55lbs), the rugged ‘no fuss’ Large Bag range helps bulk producers to control fill and distribute the highest quality products to end users. For even larger applications, Fortress also supplies a heavy duty 50 kilogram (110lb) 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 Regional Sales Manager Eric Garr.

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%). Levelling to the long-term  food inflation rate of between 2 and 3 percent in North America will be very dependent on how swiftly supply chains recover after Covid and the ongoing energy and labor challenges, claim industry analysts.

Incomparable sensitivity

Protecting consumer confidence while maintaining brand integrity, the rugged Fortress Large Bag Metal Detector is the only large aperture metal inspection system worldwide to exceed expectations, exceling in performance and reliability.

Combined with its robust construction and advanced electronics, the bulk metal detector can reliably detect 2.0 mm stainless-steel in the center of the aperture within most bulk packs of dry product. It also reliably detects ferrous and non-ferrous metal smaller than 1.5 mm in the aperture center.

To address the prevalence of loud industrial equipment and transport vehicles in bulk factories, the rugged construction of the Fortress Large Bag range allows it to run stable. Even in environments where there are high levels of vibration. The metal detector’s extra-rugged outer casing is designed to shield the coils from over-air RFI/EMI noise 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 weighing technology and robust construction are optimized for high natural resonance as each bulk product passes onto the weighing belt.

The  optional choice of aluminum or stainless steel casing on the metal detector also ensures long-term reliability and performance in heavy processing environments and plants.

Reduced return rates

Caseweighing up to 60 units a minute, including sacks, bulk boxes, kegs and drums, the new Raptor XL can check the product weight for virtually any shape or size. Featuring highly responsive brushless DC motors for long-lasting continuous duty 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 minimize return rates.

According to the National Retail Federation, return rates escalated to an average of 16.6 percent in 2021, equating to more than $761 billion in merchandise. In response, many retailers are focusing efforts on their return strategies to improve profit margins.

In addition to delivering premium inspection and weight checks, Fortress offers various reject and conveying systems to efficiently and smoothly remove primary and secondary bulk packages 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 Eric. “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, for example grains and ingredients. With the Raptor XL we would estimate payback in just several months, if not quicker,” he notes.

For maximum efficiency, the 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 Large 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.