QMT Features: December 2009
Baked-in quality
Loma’s advanced X4 X-ray inspection system guarantees the quality of Germany’s Brinkchen bread rolls.

Baking bread rolls to that perfect combination of a crispy crust and deliciously soft interior is an art in itself. “Particularly when you are producing between 19,000 and 24,000 bread rolls an hour on some of the world’s latest high-tech machinery”, says Peter Schmidt, the works manager at Bäckerei Brinker GmbH in Herne in Germany. “There are all kinds of variables that have to be controlled very precisely like the relationship between the roll’s outer crust and the soft core, which determines how you experience the taste and texture of the roll as you bite into it”. 

Bäckerei Brinker GmbH, which is famous in Germany for the “Brinkchen”, the company’s branded bread roll, is a family-owned operation that was founded in 1919 by Carl Brinker. The company has expanded enormously since then, however, even today they still proudly use his original recipe for success: high quality ingredients and the slow-bake method. Bäckerei Brinker sells fresh-baked products through its own chain of more than 50 retail outlets in Germany and supplies deep-frozen, partially baked bread and pastry products to major wholesalers and supermarkets throughout Europe.

“Our success is based on quality leadership and price leadership” says Peter Schmidt. “We are IFS and ISO certified and achieved an almost perfect score of 98% in our last IFS audit. All aspects of the process are subjected to stringent quality checks: the raw materials, the times and temperatures for the different stages of the baking process and the end-of-line checks on shape, size, colour, taste and foreign bodies”. 

The company’s drive to continually improve quality led to a major investment in X-ray foreign body detection technology and metal detectors in 2008. “We wanted to rule out every possibility of contaminants in our products so we chose the best technology available. Many of our competitors use metal detection alone, but metal detection only picks up metal and the accuracy on hot bread products is not ideal. We wanted something that would pick up other contaminants as well as providing the high level of accuracy we feel is essential”. Brinker’s search brought them to Loma, one of the worlds leading suppliers of metal detectors, X-ray scanners and checkweighers. “Loma is one of the leading companies in this area – they have an excellent reputation and a strong local technical sales and service presence”.

The final contract involved a combination of four Loma X4 X-ray inspection machines and one Loma IQ3 metal detector. Finding a location to install the X-ray machines on the three bread roll lines was particularly challenging. Loma’s sales and engineering staff collaborated closely with Peter Schmidt to engineer a solution for this very difficult application: not only were there space constraints in the original line layout, the environment at the rear of the oven was relatively hostile with very high temperatures and a large amount of flour dust in the air.

The final solution involved building a mezzanine floor to support the three X4 units and rerouting the conveyor belts to transport the product to the machines. Loma’s engineering department devised a custom safety system to ensure maximum radiation safety in this application. The cooling system for these detectors is also unique as Loma’s normal vortex cooler could not be used in this application due to the presence of flour dust in the air. Fortunately, it was possible to connect the machines to Brinker’s internal water-cooling system, which closely controls the temperatures in the electrical cabinets to prevent premature failure of sensitive electrical components.        

“Loma’s X-ray and metal detection equipment has really impressed us. Other than one minor problem, which was solved immediately under warranty, the X4 machines have run with total reliability for 18 hours a day and between 5 and 7 days a week.

They were easy to set up, and because they are self-adjusting, they achieve even higher detection accuracies that we expected. The machines have a high level of safety: we measure radiation levels three times daily and have never detected excess radiation.

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