So you’ve got a metal contamination concern and, after analyzing the situation, you have concluded that the proper solution is either a Magnetic Separator or a Metal Detector. Both may fit the bill, but there are important differences between the two. Figuring out which will be most effective in your application will have a large impact on the safety of your equipment, your product, and your brand. That’s why, before you take the plunge, you should ask yourself these five key questions:
- Why is the metal contamination an issue? Is this a long-standing problem, or is the current contamination issue a result of recent changes to your process or equipment? Is the contamination a result of foreign material being introduced into the process, or is the metal contamination coming from damage to the machinery itself?
- What is the size and type of the metal contamination? Metal contamination can occur in a variety of forms:
- Large-sized metal items include screwdrivers, broken pieces of other equipment, car keys, and even the occasional mobile phone.
- Medium-sized metal items include nuts, bolts, nails and pieces of damaged pumps.
- Small metal pieces might include shards from a broken screen, or pins and fragments from worn equipment.
- Fine and very fine metal contamination can occur due to worn processing equipment, especially when processing hard materials such as beans and grain.
- Is the metal magnetic, or non-magnetic? Oddly enough, some ‘non-magnetic’ metals such as stainless steel can become very weakly magnetized if they are work-hardened. The edges of stainless steel bolts are often weakly magnetic, as is fine stainless steel originating from the wear of processing equipment.
- What is the extent of the metal contamination issue? How big is the issue? How much of your process is affected? Very often the issue will only be raised when either a customer complains, a key item of processing equipment is damaged or a batch of product is rejected by internal quality control. However, discovering such metal contamination once usually suggests that there is metal passing through the system undetected.
- How much could the metal contamination impact your business? Sometimes this is a difficult question to answer. A damaged reputation, for example, or a threat to customer safety, have costs that are nearly incalculable. However, in some cases the only cost to consider might be that an item of equipment is damaged. In that case, it is easy to put a figure on the repair or replacement cost. Additionally, there are the costs of lost production and the associated labor. What could this contamination cost you?
Unfortunately, addressing and solving your particular metal contamination problem may not as simple as just installing one item of equipment, whether it is a Magnetic Separator or Metal Detector. A Magnetic Separator may not capture a larger stainless steel item, whereas the Metal Detector will not be as effective if you need to remove fine or very fine metal. There are also practical consideration relating the installation, such as space and process. The most reliable way to correctly determine what is needed is to undertake a full review of the process, assessing critical areas and the potential sources of the contamination will result in a complete and robust solution.
You may determinate that you need one of these pieces of equipment. You may decide that you need both. Often a combination of magnetic technologies, such as a Magnetic Separator and a Metal Detector, located at different points within the process for very specific objectives, will provide the most complete protection. Whatever your application, we’re here to help design and manufacture a product that is right for you.
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