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Food

Getting things right

Vision technology can offer food manufacturers a competitive
advantage. It opens up possibilities in quality assurance that were
previously impossible to implement, including inspection of the
food product itself, inspection of food packaging integrity to avoid
premature spoilage and inspecting food labelling for accuracy.
Newer technologies such as hyperspectral imaging are likely to have
a big impact in the future.

Controlling the product

Vision can be used in the processing of virtually any food, living,
grown or manufactured. In almost every case it is carrying out
previously labour-intensive tasks as diverse as the vaccination of
live fish to the checking of pizza for shape, size, edge defects, holes,
and the presence and distribution of the correct toppings, using
both 2D and 3D imaging. Vision can also be integrated into slicing
equipment for portion control for products such as bacon, cheese
and ham in order to maximise the on-weight percentages and
minimise giveaway.

Sustainability

Sustainability is a critical aspect concerning food producers in the
UK today. A report by WRAP (Waste and Resources Action
Programme) has estimated that up to 480,000 tonnes of food is
wasted in the UK each year because of poor seals in packaging. Up
to 24% of all packs are “at risk of failure” yet only 1% were detected
in the factory using conventional means. Not only is this food
wasted, but its carbon footprint is made worse by having to be then
transported for disposal. Vision can be combined with existing
methods to radically improve the detection of poor seals. For
example, thermoformed and top sealed trays can be pressure-tested
for integrity. However if food has become trapped in the seal itself,
the pack may pass that test but leak later as the trapped food dries
and shrinks. Vision systems can be used to identify packs with food
trapped in the seals.

Food labelling

The correct labelling is vitally important for the consumer with
regards to allergen information, ‘use-by’ dates and other data
such as price, weight, country of origin etc. With the costly
penalties imposed by supermarkets for incorrectly labelled and
presented products, there are signs that the food industry will
follow the pharmaceutical industry in terms of traceability. Here,
however, the entire label needs to be verified. This includes the
artwork, any promotional ‘flashes’ as well as 1D/2D barcode
verification, overprinted coding, date and time verification and
printed text verification. The need for 100% inspection makes
vision essential essential and a vision system can yield a very
quick return on investment.

Contact:  Chris Valdes  T: +44 (0) 20 8773 5517     sales@machinevisionconference.co.uk

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