Monitoring the performance of the line and the quality of end product output is critical for ensuring quality control and for optimising the efficiency of high throughput beverage lines.
Claire Rowan spoke to Gunnar Bischoff, Omron’s EU Vision Systems expert about inline inspection using the latest vision technology.
Gunnar Bischoff: Incorporating vision systems for inline detection has become the standard for soft drinks processors. As a quality control measure, they can be used throughout the production process to inspect the exterior appearance of bottles and cans.
Today’s vision systems are easy-to-adapt and cost-efficient, and can be used for empty containers, before the actual filling process, or for final exterior quality inspections such as for labels or booklets, or to detect the presence of straws.
Gunnar Bischoff: For high speed processes, the detection and image processing speed is critical, while in other applications having several inspection points for a bottle requires multiple cameras and pre-processing these different camera images into a single image for evaluation can be crucial for manufacturers. Another challenge is the need for flexibility to adapt inspection to different sizes, containers and marketing programmes.
Gunnar Bischoff: Inspection speed requirements are quite a challenge, but Omron has achieved the required levels by combining several methods.
Firstly, we increased the image acquisition and pre-processing speed using parallel hardware architecture and then increased the software image processing speed by using new algorithms, such as sparse edge feature detection and variation prediction. Omron’s Shape Search III vision algorithm allows fast, precise measurements to be made even if images are out of focus. Finally, we increased the communication speed to databases, PLCs or other devices using the EtherCAT machine control network. Omron’s FH compact vision system can achieve communications cycle times as short as 500µs and this enables the implementation of motion control to be synchronised with the communication cycle.
The need for flexibility and easy implementation was a direct result of feedback from operators who were unhappy having to wait for highly trained experts to make adjustments for them. We therefore simplified the set up process, which allows operators to make their own adjustments. For more complex tasks, we offer training and, from the feedback we have received, users indicate that they now feel confident to perform all the necessary tasks by themselves.
Gunnar Bischoff: Our new FH vision system provides leading edge inspection performance, with four camera processing and the fastest image capture rate on the market. It allows operators to achieve shorter machine cycle times and improved production line efficiency.
The FH vision systems are ideal for soft drink applications with high speed manufacturing machines. With up to eight camera inputs, they allow multiple inspection points to be processed through a single controller.
The inspection performance that we offer with our FH compact vision system is a processing speed approximately 10 times faster than comparable systems in the market.
Gunnar Bischoff: The current ‘smart phone generation’ means operators are used to having data available at their fingertips wherever they are, so we foresee that users will expect more intuitive interaction between devices. Therefore, soft drink plants will go beyond the mere inspection of products and look at inspection tasks that incorporate smart user interaction and interfacing between devices, machines, data storage and evaluation. I believe this is certainly something that the future holds for soft drink processors.
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