Vision inspection solution doesn’t miss a thing

31 August 2021

To make sure that no out-of-specification packaged products leave the factory, one manufacturer relies on customised inspection systems with inspection cameras.

Looking to reduce waste and increase yield, a fast-flowing food production line of baked breads needed resolution to an ongoing problem that saw poorly packaged product reaching customers. The company required a solution, to ensure that the correct quantities of products are placed in the packaging and that bags are packaged correctly before leaving the factory. 

In a bid to improve the output of three baking lines, three tailored, fully automated inspection and rejection machines were designed specifically for the task in hand, based on standard packaging and label inspection machines from Industrial Vision Systems (IVS). For this application the conveyor length of the machine was adjusted to fit perfectly within the customers’ existing space constraints – the three systems all required slightly different dimensions. The vision system field of view was specified for the largest packaging of breads that the customer produced, allowing all sizes to be automatically inspected on the same machine.

To better fit the existing ergonomics of the factory, one of the machines is mirrored from the base design. This enables an operator to tend to two lines – with machines facing in – simultaneously. In this fast-flowing food production line, up to 40 packs every minute pass the inspection camera to ensure baked products have been correctly packed six up, with no misses, empties or twisted product. Every pack must be consistently cut and sealed before it is picked and packed into shipping cartons. Real-time information, statistical data, and alarm conditions are all presented to the operator to ensure they have everything at hand to run smoothly and efficiently, refining the production and making critical decisions on the performance of upstream processes.

Each inspection machine is fitted with its own automatic air nozzle rejection and verification system to ensure any out of specification products are removed from the line. Lockable reject bins keep the out of specification packages well away from the rest of the productions, so they cannot make their way back into the system.

Vision system
The machines utilise the latest generation IVS HD+ industrial inspection cameras that capture multiple, staggered shots of passing packs. When combined within the IVS inspection software, they form one workable image of the highest possible resolution. In this way, inspection of any product length is imaginable. Fast detection algorithms instantly feedback the results to the multi-stage air reject station.

Each machine is fitted with a wide area, high-intensity industrial light, to provide repeatable conditions for inspection, irrespective of the ambient light situation. 

The machines are designed to operate independently if necessary, or they can be networked back to a single controller. They are also equipped with standard interfacing relays for simple stop-start and feedback, which can be used to interface with the upstream and downstream machines, as well as back to the line controller. All data is transferred to the factory information system SQL database, which provides the production team with real-time statistics, quality yields, and line performance.

Ultimately the machine has provided the manufacturer with an end of line ‘goalkeeper’ to protect its brand and reputation. The system offers the peace of mind that poorly packed products will never reach the customer. And the vision systems don’t miss a thing – by stopping poorly packed product from ever reaching their customer they can sleep easy, knowing that 100% of every product is inspected before it leaves the factory. 

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