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Product quality well maintained at Burtons Biscuits.

Product Quality Well Maintained at Burtons Biscuits

Burtons Biscuits Ltd of Blackpool, part of the ABF group of companies, is one of the success stories of British confectionery. The company, started by the Burton family shortly after the last war, has survived and expanded through being responsive to customer demands in today's multi-product confectionery market. Their range now includes cakes, sweets and chocolate-coated products.

This responsiveness has not only applied to increasing the range of products available but also to maintaining a high quality. Fortunately there has been a compatibility in these requirements since, as public demand requires improvement in quality throughout the confectionery industry, improvements in machinery technology have kept pace to make this a reality.

There is no better example than in the detection of metal particles in food. Advances in electronics have allowed the incorporation of digital techniques into the equipment, and these have replaced the older analog technology. This, together with other technical advances, is ensuring not only that smaller metal particles are able to be detected but also that many other useful facilities are now available.

Production at Burtons

The company now produces about thirty types of biscuit on five production lines. Three other lines are for chocolate, two for sweets and one for cakes.

Irrespective of the end product, whether mixing, extruding, heating or conveying, the raw products are in contact with metal. Typically, in biscuit production, the ingredients are cold mixed to produce a dough that is rolled into sheets, cut to the required shape, baked and then gradually cooled as the biscuits are conveyed. Obviously the exact procedures involved depend upon the particular biscuits. For instance, on the fig line, constituents and extruded dough for the outer layer are initially processed separately.

Metal Detection

Burtons use a metal detection system, both for detecting small pieces of metal in pipelines and also on the horizontal band lines.

In the pipeline system the operations are timed so that once detected there is an eighteen second interval before it reaches the valve and a further ten seconds for it to be diverted. The conveyor belt system rejects unsatisfactory packages by an airblast shortly after detection. They are projected into a locked cabinet for security reasons prior to further examination.

Both metal detection systems work on the same principle and have been designed and installed by Safeline Ltd of Salford, near Manchester.

The systems are microprocessor-based with full digital electronics and have further features that were not possible with the older analog technology. The microprocessor allows complex adjustments to be automatically undertaken. The settings are held in memory for later recall at various product change-overs, consequently ensuring maximum efficiency. This is a particularly useful feature for Burtons with their considerable diversity. With the older type analog systems a change in settings will often by made by an unskilled operator without the knowledge for facilitating any required fine adjustment and inefficiencies immediately follow.

The data acquisition facilitates prove that inspection has been properly carried out to an agreed specification, that all peripheral devices, such as rejects, are working and that test samples are detected and rejected. The detectors are robust, compact and readily fit in conjunction with an existing conveyor line and can be readily adjusted.

The system is set up by membrane touch pad which is access code- protected and prevents tampering. Its greater sensitivity makes a significant improvement towards the detection of wire and metal particles.

In Conclusion

The increasing costs of litigation associated with contaminated foods, and the desire by companies to improve product quality and protect machinery are all good reasons for installing metal detection systems. Improved detection rates enhance product quality and this gives direct benefits to all concerned.

PHOTO : Safeline equipment at Burtons; note the stainless steel receptacle to collect underweight or overweight packs
COPYRIGHT 1990 Food Trade Press Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Food Trade Review
Date:Oct 1, 1990
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