Fortress helps fish firm meet production demand

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT

Fortress's metal detection system in action
Fortress's metal detection system in action

Related tags Metal detector

Fortress Technology has boosted production at a whitefish processor thanks to its calibrated metal detection system.

Kirwin Brothers, a UK-based firm, purchased its first Fortress Phantom metal detector to meet production requirements of a customer in March and another in August last year.

The detector is phased/calibrated to good product so that it can ignore the properties of the fish and identify and alarm where metal is present.

Fortress said the metal detector is IP69K rated, making it suitable for high pressure hoses.   

The Phantom name is industry–recognised with software and electronics being updated to meet necessary requirements.

Installed at the end of a new line, the unit is inspecting wet fish fillets sold in bulk by weight or count and packed under a covering of ice.

Sarah Ketchin, managing director, at Fortress Technology Europe, said fish (unless deep frozen) is a conductive product which means the salt and water content make it look like metal to a metal detector.

“Also because of the non-uniform shapes and sizes the product effect can vary and so the detector needs to be tolerant of these changes and not end up rejecting good items and increasing product waste,” ​she told

“Obviously fish needs to be inspected to eliminate the presence of fish hooks or other metal items they could have picked up."

Custom design time

It was custom designed by Fortress to fit on a low level line rather than standard operating height, making it easier for operatives to lift the heavy containers from the conveyor belt to the cold store.

Ketchin said custom build systems can take four to 10 weeks, depending on the complexity and production work loads.

“We hold stock of standard sizes. These can be available in a week – usually it’s the documentation which takes the time.  

“We have designed our stock systems to have a degree of flexibility in them so in some situations we can make modifications to them such as height or reject changes. However a build from scratch for a true system designed to fit a specific application will be 10 weeks.”

Increased volume

The success of the first system prompted Kirwin Brothers to buy a second metal detector four months later to meet increased volume of pre-packed products supplied to supermarkets.

One system has an automatic reject, the second is for bulk packs which are hand fed so alarm and stop on detection.

Paul Robinson from Kirwin Brothers said: “We opted for Fortress metal detectors because the company came highly recommended by one of our suppliers.

“The second metal detector in particular has helped increase the efficiency of our packing operation by eliminating double handling and transferring product between lines.”

Ketchin said word of mouth and referrals are a big source of new business for the firm.

“It’s difficult to be at the top of the list for new business because very often the potential customer will look to just replace what he has from the original supplier.

“A good detector system can last for many many years and require very little external maintenance, potential customers are not always aware of what’s out in the market.

“A metal detector is not always considered at the early part of any project – but it’s a must have for BRC and major retailers.”

Related topics Food Safety & Quality

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