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What are the chances of finding an unwelcome surprise in your granola bar, such as stone, metal, or glass? Actually, incidents like this are very rare. Only 1.3 percent of food safety hazards reported to the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from 2009 through 2010 involved foreign objects. That's in part because of companies like Anritsu Industrial Solutions USA, which designs and manufactures X-ray inspection and metal detection machines that automatically screen food for foreign objects hidden within the product itself.

"If you think about the food on your table, you know it's harvested," says Erik Brainard, president of Anritsu. "Contaminants such as bone, metal, glass, stone, wire, or metal shavings can enter food at any point during the production process, from the field to the packaging procedure, before it ever reaches store shelves and ultimately your table. The FDA has very stringent regulations, such as HACCP and the Global Food Safety Initiative, that are meant to improve the safety of the nation's food supply, which is already one of the safest in the world. Thankfully, improvements in X-ray and metal detection technology are making it easier to comply with these regulations."

Anritsu designs, manufactures, and installs X-ray, metal detection and checkweighing systems not only for food manufacturers, but also for customers in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries.

Product inspection systems are designed to look for contaminants either before or after the packaging process, depending on the food manufacturer's specific goals. If a food manufacturer is trying to find foreign objects such as bone in a food product, the product will be scanned before packaging, while final quality control checks are typically done after the packaging process is completed. If contaminants are found during the processing procedure, they are automatically mechanically removed from production in order to retain as much of the product as possible. If contaminants are detected after packaging, the product is analyzed by the quality department to determine the source.

Anritsu's new line of Dual X Technology products, which is used extensively in the meat and poultry industry, analyzes two different x-ray energy signals. This makes it especially effective at finding lower density foreign objects such as bone, stone, rubber, metal, glass, and salt/sugar lumps even in new designs of food packaging that can produce crowded and busy x-ray images. Anritsu's HD and Ultra HD X-ray machines also detect minute foreign materials while simultaneously and automatically checking for other quality concerns such as broken seals, missing components, underweight or overweight conditions, and damaged components at rates up to 1,000 pieces per minute.

Other products provided by Anritsu include the Duw (Dual Wave) metal detector, which maximizes the detection of very small fragments of ferrous, non-ferrous, and stainless steel metals in packaged items through the use of multiple frequency and exclusive Dual Wave (duw) technology.

Anritsu's SSV series of checkweighers analyze finished products to confirm that the amount of product packaged is correct. First, suppliers need to confirm the actual packaged weight matches the indicated weight on the label. Second, the SSV technology provides the ability to track production volume and calculate 'profit giveaway.' When a product is packaged heavy over a production run, the value of 'giveaway' can be tremendous. For example, if a product is packaged 1% heavy at a rate of 300 pieces per minute with a value of $0.02 per % , the company is losing $6 per minute, $360 per hour, $2,880 per day and $14,400 per a 40-hour week in product giveaway alone. To support and analyze efficiencies, Anritsu also offers a data collection software program, which monitors all of the company's quality control equipment live on the production line.

"We not only install the machinery for our customers," says Brainard, "but we also provide the initial training for start-up and operation. Once installed, our systems are fully automated on the production line. We also provide any maintenance needed."

Anritsu is the North American and South American headquarters for its parent company in Japan, which started in 1895 by manufacturing electronic measurement devices. The company now maintains sales and manufacturing facilities in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East as well as in the Americas, and employs about 300 workers world-wide.

The U. S. subsidiary originally opened in Buffalo Grove in 2005, but relocated to 1001 Cambridge Drive in Elk Grove Village not only to take advantage of its nearness to O'Hare International Airport but also because of the large number of food manufacturers already based there. The area also boasts many Japanese restaurants and a large Japanese community in nearby Arlington Heights, making this location ideal for rotating Japanese managers to live.

Safety and quality control are such important parts of the food processing industry, says Brainard, that Anritsu was not affected very much by the recent economic recession.

"We often comment that the food industry is not very glamorous," he says, "but it's very stable because people need to eat. Our goal is to make sure what we eat is packaged correctly and free of foreign objects."

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