Food safety at 360°

Fabio Forestelli, CEO of FT System, Food & Beverage Division of Antares Vision Group.

All the best technology for product tracking and quality control at every stage of the supply chain, in the solutions Antares Vision Group designs and manufactures for large, medium and small companies in the food & beverage industry.

Antares Vision Group offers solutions to guarantee the quality and safety of food processes and product integrity (presence of moulds, contaminants and shelflife), packaging tightness (absence of leaks, seal integrity), packaging quality control (verification of mandatory information on the label or optional packaging information) and the reputation of the brand.

The Company designs solutions for tracking, inspection and smart data management that allow customers to create a fundamental value: the confidence of users and consumers. Fabio Forestelli, CEO of FT System, Food & Beverage Division of Antares Vision Group, explained to us the importance of protecting products, persons and brand and how to implement it effectively.

FT System technologies guarantee the correct closure of the container (leak detection and seal integrity) and label and code inspection.

Antares Vision started its activity with the construction of tracking and inspection systems for the pharmaceutical industry. Today, thanks to the FT System acquisition, Antares Vision opens up to the world of food & beverage. When did the change of pace happen, and was it natural?

Yes, the change of pace was natural. In 2017, Antares Vision, building on the considerable reputation it had built up in the pharmaceutical sector, decided to evolve by expanding its
business into neighbouring sectors such as food & beverage. Thus, in 2019 the acquisition of FT System became a reality; the company with its 20 years of experience in food & beverage has allowed Antares Vision to set a new course.

The acquisition was natural, because the two realities were reflected in the same vision: control and traceability for quality and safety. In future projections, the ideals, values and objectives were the same: To put consumer protection at the centre by offering advanced technologies that guarantee the originality, quality and safety of the product.

The journey of food from harvest to production and sale tells a story. How important is being able to track it and testify it, using ad hoc tools, for a brand’s reputation?

Tracking using ad hoc tools is not only important, but also I would say fundamental. We are faced with increasingly demanding and aware consumers, who expect guarantees of transparency. It is therefore necessary to create software platforms to manage serialization processes, and to do so Antares Vision Group has the great advantage of its long experience in the pharmaceutical industry.

All data must be capable of being collected, analysed and made available without any possibility of tampering. With the tracking we started years ago, we have been ahead of the market, and today we are able to create solutions that allow us to track every single package along the entire supply chain.

What are the market trends that need to be followed today?
The needs and sensitivities of consumers must be at the centre and guide us in the development of our business. Today, consumers are demanding more and more transparency in terms of quality and safety, but also on issues such as food waste and sustainability.

Antares Vision Group is able to guarantee all this by allowing the consumer, through the QR code, to know directly the history of each individual product so as to be sure of the origin, the quality controls and everything that happens along the supply chain.

In-line inspection based on IR spectroscopy: checks the presence of holes and micro-holes in the packaging to guarantee the absence of leaks and the integrity of the bags.

On which technologies are Antares Vision Group’s inspection systems based?
Our inspection systems are very heterogeneous, because they offer different technological solutions depending on the product and packaging.

We can use hyperspectral techniques capable of highlighting contaminants on the seal until now undetectable due to the presence of coloured foils or covers, for example, or X-rays to detect foreign bodies (stones, glass, plastics, metals), but also laser spectroscopy to detect the presence of bacterial activity by measuring the concentration of CO2 at low concentrations in the headspace of a container.

All in a non-destructive and non-invasive way. Antares Vision Group also offers technologies that use artificial vision to inspect bottles and jars of multiple materials (glass, plastic, metal). For bags and trays, we offer inspection machines based on IR spectroscopy that check – in line on 100% of the production – the presence of holes and micro-holes in the packaging to guarantee the absence of leaks and the integrity of the packaging.

This check can be carried out on products packaged in MAP using CO2 as a tracer gas to detect micro-holes, but also on bakery products using alcohol as a target molecule to detect the leakage index. Through multiple technologies and solutions, we can guarantee the quality and safety of the product, the tightness and integrity of the packaging together with the verification and conformity of the information appearing on the label. All these elements can be reliably inspected with our brand-protection solutions.

Can your inspection systems guarantee product and packaging safety?
To guarantee complete safety and food-grade quality, Antares Vision Group, through FT System, manufactures machines that control the primary filling packaging: cans, bottles, boxes, trays, glass, pet.

For the pre-packaging phase, it also offers three-dimensional solutions that control bulk products: the size of a snack, for example, or the colour variation in biscuits, which allows to adjust the temperature of the oven and the baking time upstream. Finally, in post-packaging, our technologies intervene to guarantee both the quantity of product placed in a container (level of liquids, weight of solids) and the correct closure of the containers (caps, seals and foils, etc.).

All the critical points of the packaging process, right up to palletisation, are under control thanks to our technologies. From small wineries to large industrial bottling groups, from small semi-artisan producers to multinational food companies: our inspection machines are adaptable to any inspection requirement to guarantee the quality and safety of the product.

Has Antares Vision acquired other brands besides FT System to complete the range of control solutions?
Yes, with the acquisition of the US company Applied Vision, a global leader in inspection systems for glass and metal container manufacturers, we provide complete inspection solutions along the entire food and beverage supply chain.

With the entry of Pen-Tec we have expanded our technologies for contaminant detection and checkweigher. Finally, with the acquisition of american rfxcel, specializing in software solutions for digitalization and transparency of the supply chain, we are able to propose end-to-end traceability solutions to cover all the steps of the supply chain.

Today we have all the in-house expertise to be the ideal partner for companies in this era of digital revolution. From on-line quality inspection, to offering tracking technologies and smart data management powered by artificial intelligence, to customer engagement: a single partner with great experience for each one of these solutions.