Inspection Machines and Inspection Equipment

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Inspection Machines include manual, mechanical and computerised systems which inspect products, packages or packaging components to ensure they conform to specification. See a detailed listing PPMA member companies who supply a comprehensive range of Inspection Machines.

How Inspection Machines Work

Inspection machines use a range of technologies and configurations to assess whether or not products meet required specifications within given tolerances, as well as detecting any contamination or faults. Depending on the product and industry, inspection covers colour, size, mass, the presence of foreign bodies in a product or package, pack integrity, missing labels or items, or incorrect data on labels, product or packaging.

The principal technologies used are checkweighing, magnetic and conductive metal detection, X-ray equipment and vision systems. Any items which fall outside the pre-set values or are contaminated are rejected.

What are the types of Inspection Equipment?

The most common forms of inspection machines are colour sorters, checkweighers and metal detectors, but the range of inspection equipment available has grown hugely in recent years. The increased use of semi-automatic and fully-automatic systems is driven by the need to make production more efficient and to remove the need for staff who carry out manual tasks as well as inspecting products and packs visually.

Advances in technology have also increased the range of inspection tasks which can be performed. For instance, while conventional metal detectors were limited to detecting ferrous metal which is magnetic and/or conductive, different technologies (mainly X-ray) mean it is now possible to detect bone, glass, wood, fibres and most non-ferrous metals as well. Enhanced vision systems now allow for precise and accurate inspection of pill and blister packs and verification of food stuffs.

Packing Machines and Inspection Systems

Packing machines incorporate inspection equipment at different points of a packaging line, e.g. before the product is fed into the system, or after the packs are filled and sealed.

Verification of the weight of a filled package using a checkweigher is important for legal compliance, but in addition the checkweigher may be an integral part of a labelling or product filling system.

See also Labelling and Form Fill Seal pages

Other inspection machines carry out functions, such as checking pack integrity for leaks, air-tightness, vacuums, fill levels and even the temperature of a product in the pack – all without destroying the pack or damaging the product.

Inspection machines are used in all end user sectors, including food, beverage, pharmaceutical, toiletries & cosmetics, and household chemicals. Some kinds of inspection are more common in some sectors than others or even unique to a particular industry (for example missing or broken pill detectors in the pharmaceutical sector).

In the pharmaceutical industry, a range of inspection systems have also been developed to check that batch codes are present and legible and to check that every packaging component is correct for the product being packed. Legislation fuels the need to do so, including the EU’s Falsified Medicines Directive.

Inspection is also undertaken in many sectors outside the mainstream areas of use, for example, the garment industry is a major user of detection equipment for pre-packed items such as shirts.



See a full list of PPMA Member Companies who provide comprehensive expertise on Inspection Machines.

Common Inspection Machine Terminology

  • Load Cell
  • Reject Mechanism
  • Weigh Cell
  • X-Ray
  • Vision system
  • OCR
  • Cap Torque
  • Colour Sorters
  • Inspection Systems
  • Checkweighers
  • Metal Detection