The accuracy, versatility and reliability of an Ishida IX-GA-65100 X-ray inspection system is helping one of Greece's leading yogurt producers to deliver the highest levels of quality control and achieve continuing success in both national and international markets.
Based in Serres in Macedonia, Northern Greece, Kri Kri was established in 1954 when George Tsinavos opened a small pastry shop, producing ice cream and other dairy products. Strong and consistent growth over the years led to the construction of a new factory in 1987, which enabled the company to expand its product range to include yogurts. And with all its milk supplied by local farms in the Serres area, Kri Kri is able to process and pack its yogurt within 24 hours, requiring just one pasteurisation process. This ensures that all the nutrients from the milk remain in the finished yogurt.
The Ishida X-ray forms part of Kri Kri's own stringent quality control procedures and also enables the company to meet the strict requirements of its customers. While the advanced production processes incorporate the highest hygiene levels, it is vital that Kri Kri remains vigilant against potential foreign bodies such as metal, glass or other foreign materials that could contaminate the yogurt if there was a problem with any of the equipment on the line.
Kri Kri's extensive portfolio of around 140 different products includes plain and fruit yogurts, traditional varieties and a children's range, packed in pots from 150g to 500g in size. The pots are first filled and then packed into cases before inspection in the Ishida X-ray machine.
To accommodate complete cases, the company has opted for the Ishida IX-GA-65100 which is specially designed for larger products.
For Kri Kri, the major benefits of the Ishida X-ray system are its ease of use and flexibility. With the many different product types and pack sizes, there can be up to four changeovers in each eight hour shift. The IX-GA-6100’s user-friendly colour touchscreen enables specifications for each product to be held in the memory and called up at the touch of a button for fast and simple changeovers. In addition, the touchscreen provides different levels of security, meaning that only designated and trained operators are able to make adjustments or change settings.
Equally important, the IX-GA-65100 offers excellent versatility in its sensitivity and levels of detection. Like all Ishida IX-GA models, it features the company’s unique Genetic Algorithm (GA) technology, which uses image data analysis over a number of inspections to achieve an extremely high level of inspection accuracy. This enables Kri Kri to ‘train’ the machine to focus solely on the yogurt contents in each pot, and exclude any external areas. The machine is able to distinguish between the fruit pieces in the fruit yogurts and any unwanted contaminants, and to mask the small chocolate pieces used as a topping for children’s yogurts which are packed in a separate plastic dome above the lid of the pot.
"I compare the versatility of the Ishida X-ray to that of a Swiss army knife, with so many different options available. This means we can tailor the machine to our exact detection requirements, and so are able to handle many different product types," comments Kri Kri's production manager Petros Kissas. "We place huge emphasis on the premium nature of our yogurts and on our commitment to deliver the highest quality, so it is absolutely vital that we can carry out stringent monitoring to ensure that all our products leave our factory in the best possible condition."
Equally important, the Ishida X-ray inspection system provides valuable traceability information so that in the event of any complaint, an image of the pack in question can be retrieved to establish beyond doubt if there was a problem with the contents.
Kri Kri is currently processing around 80-90 tonnes of yogurt per day, with the Ishida X-ray system monitoring approximately 12,000 to 14,000 cups per hour. "These numbers are well within the capabilities of the X-ray machine," explains Petros, "but we prefer to operate it at medium to high speed in order to ensure that every pack is checked thoroughly."
Petros confirms that the reliability of the IX-GA-65100 has been exceptional with no breakdowns since its installation. The machine is also easy to clean as part of Kri Kri's regular and strict hygiene procedures.
Kri Kri's new state-of-the-art production and packing line was borne out of an initial catastrophe when a fire on Christmas Eve 2013 caused severe damage to its dairy production plant. However, within seven months, the new facility had been created with double the production capacity. Given the opportunity to specify the newest and best equipment for the new factory, Kri Kri turned to Ishida and its Greek agent Europack for its X-ray inspection solution.
"We knew of Ishida's reputation for reliable, top-of-the-range equipment and we had already enjoyed excellent collaboration with Europack, so these were key factors in our decision," explains Dimitris Barboutis, Kri Kri's technical manager.
"Naturally we were looking for value-for-money from our investment but the overriding concern was quality and safety – these simply cannot be compromised, since ultimately it is our reputation that is on the line. And we know that with Ishida we have the equipment that will help us maintain our hard-earned reputation."
Equally significant, this ability to demonstrate its high quality control standards has been a fundamental part of Kri Kri's drive into export markets, meeting growing global demand for traditional Greek yogurt. The company’s products are now sold in 20 countries in Europe, the Balkans and the Middle East, with listings in several major supermarket chains, including the UK.