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Case History: Modern Metal Detection for an Old-World Bakery

Aug. 15, 2022
As an artisan bakery automates, a metal detector takes care of any worries about contamination from the new equipment.

Heidelberg Bread is going against the grain in the best possible way.

Amid America’s jungle of fast-food and chemical additives, their artisan, old-world breads are made of locally grown wheat and contain no artificial preservatives, high-fructose corn syrup, soy or added sugar. Heidelberg’s founder apprenticed in some of Paris’ finest bakeries before returning to New York and starting the business in 1983. Now, this multi-generational, family-run bakery produces more than 20,000 loaves of bread daily.

“To keep pace with growing demand for our products, we’ve recently begun automating processes that had previously been done manually,” says Hadley Bissell, daughter of the founder and executive assistant to Heidelberg’s president. “In some respects, the additional equipment means we have an increased need for product inspection, since more machinery means new risks with nuts and bolts that can fall off, parts that wear down and so on. That’s why we decided to add metal detection when updating our lines last year.”

Heidelberg has two packaging lines, one handling round loaves weighing up to 1 lb. 10 oz. and the other handling square loaves averaging 1 lb. 6 oz. As the bread leaves the ovens and cooling systems, they are sent through slicers, automatic baggers, taggers – and then Mettler-Toledo Signature metal detectors.

“Accuracy and reliability are important with product inspection equipment – this isn’t a place you want to skimp,” Bissell says. “We chose to work with Mettler-Toledo Safeline because they’re a world-class leader. Our sales rep, Dan Mertzlufft of Flo-Dynamics, recommended the Signature model. It has the same great bones and detection sensitivity as Mettler-Toledo’s fancier systems, but without all the bells and whistles that we don’t need.”

Safeline metal detectors find ferrous and non-ferrous tramp metal, as well as the most difficult-to-detect non-magnetic stainless-steel fragments and non-spherical fine wire fragments. With high-frequency advanced coil technology and dynamic filtering techniques, these systems maximize detection sensitivity and stability.

Mettler-Toledo's Safeline metal detectors can find ferrous and non-ferrous tramp metal, as well as difficult-to-detect non-magnetic stainless-steel fragments and non-spherical fine wire fragments. Photo: Mettler-Toledo

“High sensitivity was our single biggest goal, and we have that with our Mettler-Toledo equipment,” Bissell says. “Nothing gets by these metal detectors. It’s a huge relief knowing that we’re protecting our customers, as well as our brand’s reputation.”

Heidelberg produces more than a dozen bread varieties, from classic white and whole wheat loaves to more unique flavors like pumpernickel and raisin sunflower. The Signature system enables up to 100 different products to be stored in its memory for quick recall during changeovers, while the “product clustering” capability minimizes the need to change settings. A new product is easily added with the single-pass, auto set-up routine.

“If you ask our operators what their favorite thing is about the Signature metal detectors, they’ll all say fast and easy changeover. It takes just a few seconds to switch between recipes,” Bissell says. “That’s especially important here at Heidelberg, because our packaging lines change very quickly from running one product to another. We’re able to change over the Signature systems without slowing or stopping the lines.

“Sanitation is another huge consideration for us,” Bissell continues. “The hygiene and cleaning of our equipment is a top priority. Our Signature metal detectors are easy to sanitize with just an air pressure sprayer.”

Featuring robust construction, Mettler-Toledo’s inspection systems are available with a range of sealing standards and finishes to suit all manufacturing environments, from dry, non-aggressive conditions to harsh, wet applications.

“The ultimate indicator of this equipment’s success is the fact that our customers are happy with our product. We haven’t gotten a single complaint or phone call, which means our metal detectors are doing their job,” Bissell concludes. “At the end of the day, the important thing is that everyone who eats a slice of Heidelberg bread is getting the highest-quality product. Our Mettler-Toledo metal detectors play a vital role in making that happen.”

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