Case study: Heidelberg Bread protects its old-world heritage with modern inspection technology

Jan. 6, 2023
Mettler-Toledo’s Signature metal detectors feature high frequency advanced coil technology and dynamic filtering techniques to find both ferrous and non-ferrous metals while minimizing false rejects.

Heidelberg Bread is a multi-generational, family-run bakery that still shapes their wholesome old-world artisan breads by hand. To keep up with growing demand, they decided to automate some of their processes such as slicing and bagging last year. During that update, they also installed new product inspection equipment and selected Mettler-Toledo Signature metal detectors to protect final product quality on both of their packaging lines.

“Replacing a manual process with technology, especially prior to packaging, actually increases the importance of product inspection — every machine adds new risks, such as nuts and bolts that can fall off and parts that will wear,” said Hadley Bissell, executive assistant to Heidelberg’s president and daughter of the founder. “Our sales rep, Dan Mertzlufft of Flo-Dynamics, recommended the Signature metal detector. It has the same great bones and sensitivity as Mettler-Toledo’s fancier systems but without all the bells and whistles that we don’t need.”

Heidelberg was founded in 1983 to provide a healthy alternative to America’s fast food culture. Their artisan breads are made from locally grown wheat and contain no artificial preservatives, high fructose corn syrup, soy or added sugar. Now sold throughout the East Coast in grocery stores and farmers markets, Heidelberg remains focused on product quality and food safety as they produce more than 20,000 loaves of bread each day.

“Accuracy and reliability are essential with product inspection equipment. This isn’t a place you want to cut corners. We chose Mettler-Toledo Safeline because they’re the world-class leader,” Bissell said. “Our single biggest objective with these systems is consistently high detection sensitivity, and we have that with our Mettler-Toledo equipment. Nothing gets by these metal detectors.”

As one of Mettler-Toledo’s most popular metal detectors, Signature is ideal for Heidelberg. It features high frequency advanced coil technology and dynamic filtering techniques to find both ferrous and non-ferrous metals, including the most difficult to detect non-magnetic stainless steel fragments, while minimizing false rejects.

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

“If you ask any of our operators what their favorite thing is about the Signature metal detectors, they’ll say it’s the fast and easy changeover. It takes just a few seconds and a couple of taps on the user interface to switch between recipes,” said Bissell “We’re able to change over the Signature systems without slowing or stopping the packaging lines.”

“Sanitation is another big deal for us, especially during this pandemic. To protect our workers as well as our product quality, we maintain extremely strict protocols throughout our facility, including detailed guidelines for anybody that enters the production area,” Bissell added. “With equipment hygiene being such a high priority, we appreciate how easy it is to clean our Signature metal detectors with just an air pressure sprayer.”

“The ultimate measure of success in any arena is customer satisfaction. We haven’t gotten a single complaint, which means our Signature metal detectors are doing their job,” concluded Bissell. “At the end of the day, the most 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.”

Cat McBride is a freelance writer focused on food processing and packaging topics.