German snack producer

improves quality

with x-ray inspection & checkweigher

Märsch Importhandles GmbH is a leading German snack food producer producing 230 tons a day of dried fruits and nuts into retail packaging. The company turns to Mekitec and implements CombiMEKI, an X-ray system with integrated combination checkweigher.

The snack industry is a highly competitive, brand- and reputation driven market where products that taste the best and have a positive image guide consumer purchasing decisions. Snack foods often contain a wide range of different ingredients from various raw material suppliers. This — combined with attractive, but challenging packaging processes — poses a contamination risk, especially for conventional metal detectors. Snack producers need to increasingly evaluate more sophisticated solutions for foreign object detection. Märsch Importshandels-GmbH, a German nut and dried fruits packaging company, found the optimal solution for their process from the Finnish X-ray inspection systems machine manufacturer Mekitec.

Founded in 1936, Märsch Importhandel GmbH is a family-owned company specializing in the production of nuts and dried fruit. The company services European retail stores, as well as industrial clients in the candy industry. The plant produces around 35,000 tons of snack products in retail bags ranging in size from 50g to 1KG. Märsch Importhandels GmbH’s daily production can reach a capacity of 230 tons with the main focus of its business on private label, packed into pouch bags, doy-bags, and four-seal bags.

Finding the Right X-ray Partner

In 2014, Märsch Importhandels GmbH started to implement food X-ray inspection systems to improve quality, prevent contamination, and track consumer complaints back to the supply chain. The company found the best place to implement equipment to meet HACCP requirements is the end of the production line. Finished and packaged goods — in this case, bags of nuts and dried fruits — are checked for contamination, such as metal pieces, stone fragments, and glass splinters. When the product is sealed, nothing unwanted can enter it before reaching the retailer, and, most importantly, the consumer. Every product is checked package by package and those with any risk of suspicious content are rejected immediately.

Food inspection, especially X-ray, was not a new topic to the owners of the company. They had been evaluating different technology options and the market for X-ray systems from several vendors all over the world to find the optimal solution for their purpose.

"We started with equipping one production line. Until the end of 2015, most of our 21 lines will be checked with X-ray. We intend to fully rely on X-ray inspection by the end of 2016." — Mr. Markus Märsch, Märsch Importhandels GmbH

COMBIMEKI Takes Care Of Final Inspection

Märsch Märsch Importhandel GmbH started by implementing one CombiMEKI system to one of its packaging lines — bagging a combination of nuts and dried fruits, such as raisins — to create a common German product called ”Studentenfutter.” CombiMEKI is a combination system that integrates X-Ray and checkweigher systems. Thus, in addition to finding foreign objects, the solution is able to sort out over- or under-weight products. ”We started with equipping one production line. Until the end of 2015, most of our 21 lines will be checked with X-Ray. We intend to rely fully on X-Ray inspection by the end of 2016,” says Märsch.

One of the challenges in Märsch Importshandels GmbH’s production is the high speed of some of its packaging machines. A speed of 220 products per minute requires high performance and high integration between both points of inspection, X-Ray and checkweighing. Also, every product category is different: The wide range of different content mixtures (nuts, dried fruits, grain) cause challenges due to very heterogeneous densities. The MidMEKI systems measure and examine density variations and it requires very sophisticated algorithms to distinguish the smallest foreign objects in very heterogeneous goods.