Loma Systems' highly accurate checkweighers offer benefits to meat processors, retailers and consumers
Loma Systems / Lock Inspection (USA) - Food prices are increasing at their highest rate for more than a decade. The increases are being driven by rising dairy and meat prices, coupled with the growing cost of feed, the increase in disease outbreaks and drought that have shrunk livestock herds and the demand created by China's rampant economic growth.
After a decade of falling food prices, staples such as meat are becoming more expensive around the world. This comes as consumers in developing economies become richer and demand for food increases. These surging costs are having a knock-on effect to UK consumers, who are experiencing the highest food bills for years, and who could end up spending almost $1,600 extra on their annual food bill. Basic essential items such as flour, eggs, cheese and meat have soared to record prices - for example, the price of meat has risen considerable over the past year.
Consumers must now carefully choose products as price becomes a dominant consideration in the weekly shopping trolley. Consumers are calling for easier to understand price structures and simpler pricing.
Legislation that protects consumers against short measures puts even greater pressure on food producers to accurately measure their products and ensure that prices and weights are correct and that under-weights and over-weights are kept to a minimum. The regulations recognize that there are inherent fluctuations in the automatic packing process so there are tolerances for small differences, but these need to be strictly enforced.
Loma Systems, leading global suppliers of checkweighing, metal detection, and x-ray inspection equipment, offers their LCW Checkweigher, which is designed to help producers meet these increasingly strict weight regulations.
Pre-packed meat is a good example of the changing attitude toward prices and weights. Traditionally, meat was cut to a particular size rather than packed to a particular weight. This meant that consumers had to check each wedge of meat before purchase, as every individual wedge had a different price dependent on its weight.
In a modern retailing situation, it is not efficient to price each slice individually and as a consequence many food producers use automatic checkweighing to simplify this process and ensure product labelling is accurate.
The Loma LCW is extremely accurate and can easily be integrated into high-speed processing lines with belt speeds up to 120m/min, making this unit ideal for today’s high volume production lines. Fast and accurate, the LCW is ideal for meat producers as it can cope with a wide range of flexible and rigid packs weighing from 10g to 60Kg.
The needs of producers and retailers were a key consideration in the development of the LCW Checkweigher, as Marketing Manager of Loma Systems North America, Laura Studwell explains, “New trends in pricing mean there has never been a greater need for weight accuracy in industrial food production. Loma works closely with its customers to provide the best solutions to real, everyday needs, and the feedback we got was that accurate weighing in a fast-paced food preparation environment is essential.”
Constructed of stainless steel, right down to the bearings and rollers, the LCW Checkweigher will happily endure real-world production line conditions and the inevitably intensive cleaning processes required to maintain hygiene standards.
The design is easy to clean, having paid keen attention to minimizing bug-traps and the bead-blast surface of the machine is water-repellent to stop cleaning solutions settling. This dramatically cuts drying times – a significant consideration in any cleaning regime. Quick-release mechanisms for conveyors and other attachments also make cleaning easier and further reduce the potential for dirt to build-up.
User-friendly touch screen controls offer simple, multi-lingual operation for a wide variety of operators. With this increased flexibility, the unit can easily adapt to weighing new or changing products and pack sizes, and can even be switched to other production lines or manufacturing plants, should the need arise.
The checkweigher has a simple USB connection and a PC interface making it easy to produce reports and statistics and to download these either to a memory stick or to a factory network. This is ideal for reporting on and monitoring operations to ensure production meets stringent weight regulations.
Added to this, Loma has made sure the LCW Checkweigher is fully compatible with their IQ3 metal detector so both systems can be used simultaneously, controlled via the same panel. This system will store the product weight details and contaminant detection requirements of dozens of products, so that safely changing products on the line and maintaining accuracy is quick and easy. This feature is particularly useful in applications such as meat packing, where it brings about both a significant reduction in downtime and a major improvement in food product safety.
Loma constantly listens to their customers to ensure they build machines that the food industry requires. In the context of a growing demand for increased weighing accuracy in food production, the new LCW Checkweigher is right on target.
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