Case Study

Metal detectors speed date-paste inspection, reduce product waste

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Senior Editor, Packaging World
A new metal detector at The Jewel Date Company inspects hot date paste, eliminating the need to freeze and package product first, and reduces the amount of product rejected.

The Jewel Date Company is in a sweet spot with health-conscious consumers driving up the popularity of dates as an alternative to refined sugar. Founded in 1995, Jewel Date manufactures whole dates, date butters, date sugars, and date pastes for energy bars and more. To protect their product quality while meeting rising demand, they selected Mettler-Toledo Safeline’s Profile Advantage metal detector and installed one pipeline system and two conveyorized systems.

“When we decided to replace our aging metal detectors, we knew we needed world-class equipment. Dates are high in moisture and natural minerals, so they’re difficult for most metal detectors to accurately inspect,” says Steve Luicci, operations manager at Jewel Date. “We gave samples of our products to several suppliers, and they sent back reports about their capabilities. The Profile Advantage, which offers multi-simultaneous frequency operation, had the best results. I know from past experience that Safeline equipment is extremely rugged and dependable. Their great test results and a glowing recommendation from our sales rep, Kirk Isham of Pacific Packaging & Inspection, simply sealed our decision to go with them.

“Before we got the new metal detectors, our date paste was especially challenging to inspect,” says Luicci. “Our old system couldn’t handle hot product, so we had to freeze the date paste in bulk packages before inspecting it. Not only did this waste five days of time and cost a lot in energy use, we also had to move the product between two buildings. Plus, the old metal detector had a lot of false positives.

“The pipeline Profile Advantage has completely transformed our operations. Since it handles hot date paste, we no longer need to freeze it. On top of that, the pipeline structure improves our yield—previously, a reject meant an entire 40-pound bulk package of frozen date paste was lost. Now, the efficiency of the pipeline’s diverter valve means only a pound or two of date paste is rejected when the detector is triggered. This Profile Advantage system saves us an enormous amount of time, labor and utilities. Most importantly, it’s twice as sensitive as our previous system and has almost no false rejects.”

According to Mettler-Toledo Safeline, metal detectors featuring multi-simultaneous frequencies are ideal for more challenging products, such as those packaged in metalized film or with high variations in temperature, moisture, or mineral content. By creating a reference point to better discern changes due to the presence of metal versus changes within the product itself, multi-simultaneous frequency operation virtually eliminates false rejects to increase yield while improving metal sensitivity.

In addition to its pipeline system, Jewel Date has two conveyorized Profile Advantage metal detectors for inspecting date sugars, date butters and table-grade Medjool dates. Packages include plastic cups, trays, pails, bags, and coated paperboard cartons, ranging from retail packs as small as 10 oz to bulk packages as large as 50 lb. One of the metal detectors is mounted on castor wheels and easily moves around the facility between three different lines, as needed. “At the end of the day, what matters most is our Profile Advantage metal detectors from Mettler-Toledo Safeline have the high level of metal sensitivity that our customers count on,” concludes Luicci. “Additionally, our pipeline system, in particular, has given us massive productivity gains and cost savings. I can’t begin to imagine how much time and money it has saved us.”

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