Case Studies

Aug 08, 2018 | Sesotec

Use of food metal detectors as a competitive advantage

Huer Foods sets highest quality demands for safe food

Often on his drive into the office, Huer CEO Ryan Storey asks himself a simple question: "How do I know the innovative products we will make today are being produced and packaged as safely as possible?"

  Our large national customers expect us to have the highest safety standards, so do regulators, so do the children and adults who enjoy the products we process,“ Ryan says. “And no one expects more from us than we do of ourselves.“ Ryan, a former lawyer, clearly understands the potential risks to both consumers and Huer Foods if products are contaminated.

As one of Canada‘s leading confectionery packagers and distributors, Huer Foods has been at the forefront since 1986 with its commitment to identifying and using the latest in proven technologies designed to keep manufactured and packaged products like theirs as safe as possible.

It’s no small task. Subject to random audits and some tough regulatory demands, Huer delivers its own products and packages those of others in all significant channels including grocery, drug, convenience, discount and specialty shops. With offices near Montreal and Vancouver, its reach is nationwide. Certainly, its wide array of products were already safe. But that wasn’t enough for Ryan and his colleagues. “They had to be even safer, and we wanted to find the most advanced tools available to achieve that goal.”


Raising the Safety Bar

Improving safety is the right thing to do. It’s also good for business. Ryan recognized the duality here that eluded his competitors. “We wanted to have a competitive advantage,” he recalls. “I don’t believe all of my competitors use metal detectors.” Leveraging the technology would be a strong selling point in the crowded marketplace. “We saw that it would provide more confidence to our customers and could set us apart from the rest of the pack.”

As part of Huer’s continuous improvement process, Ryan helped to launch a search committee. It began to hit the most important trade shows to kick the tires on some products – and put sales representatives through their paces with tough questions and their ideas on how to solve real-world scenarios. After making the rounds at several packaging shows, Ryan and the search team were struck by the sheer number of companies that said they were in the food production metal detection business. “I was overwhelmed,” he remembers. “There were lots to choose from.” Of course, having too many choices is a nice problem to have. Still, the sheer data to pore over and claims to vet can be a little daunting.


A Thorough Search

As part of Huer’s continuous improvement process, Ryan helped to launch a search committee. It began to hit the most important trade shows to kick the tires on some products – and put sales representatives through their paces with tough questions and their ideas on how to solve real-world scenarios. After making the rounds at several packaging shows, Ryan and the search team were struck by the sheer number of companies that said they were in the food production metal detection business. “I was overwhelmed,” he remembers. “There were lots to choose from.” Of course, having too many choices is a nice problem to have. Still, the sheer data to pore over and claims to vet can be a little daunting.

The Huer team knew the kind of solution they wanted; they just weren’t sure they could find it. “We were after something that was of demonstrably high quality, that was easy to learn and use, and boasted cutting-edge technology,” he says. After an extensive search, the Huer team found several firms that fell within the same price range – but Sesotec’s products stood out in terms of quality.


What did Huer see in Sesotec he didn’t find elsewhere?

“It was a clean looking machine,” he explained. It had good visual appeal but its German construction also showed it was very robust. The “heart and soul” of the product is made in Germany, with the conveyor system designed and manufactured in the United States.

Frankly, another selling point was that the product was made by a company whose focus was metal and x-ray detection and nothing else. As Ryan said Sesotec knows their business exceptionally well. Huer selected Sesotec’s C-Scan GHF. This leading edge metal detector boasts high performance detection of magnetic and non-magnetic metal contaminants, an intuitive touch screen set up, USB capability, and as standard HML multi-frequency technology.


Simple Implementation

Setting up the Sesotec equipment was easy. “We got it in the morning, and had it up and running about two hours later,” he explains. Because some of its products – including licorice and gummy candies – require different sensitivity settings Huer‘s production manager went through a spate of synchronicity tests and running products through the system at least eight times to make sure the product adjustments were correct. A small piece of test metal is run through the system every day.„And every day the Sesotec system catches it“, Ryan said with every bit of confidence. A Sesotec tech also helped set up the system. Subsequent training requirements were minimal. In addition, the machine is largely insensitive to vibration and, because it has no dirt-collecting edges, easy to clean.


An Immediate Safety Benefit

When the C-Scan GHF detects metal, a signal is sent to a rejection unit, an alarm or to a process controller to initiate a remedial action. Huer’s salespeople also appreciate Sesotec. “We always focus on it during a presentation,” Ryan says. “We’re in a business, when it is not always easy to differentiate yourself from the others in an obvious way. This is one effective way to do just that.”


A Look Ahead: The Power of Confidence

The partnership with Sesotec is, in part, one of the factors giving Huer the confidence to continue to build private label opportunities with partners and further expand their own brand. “Our retail customers like to partner with Huer because they want to partner with a company that is committed to making the necessary investments in equipment and food safety certification to ensure their brand investment is secure; therefore we must continue to produce everything in a safe and effective manner to grow our partnerships,” Ryan stresses.

 

Doing the Right Thing

At Huer, safety isn‘t an option it‘s a required investment as Ryan points out. No business wants a recall, so an ounce of prevention is clearly worth it. It is about developing long-term relationships and giving partners – new and old – an even stronger sense of confidence when they work with Huer.


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