Safety first

The importance of label inspection and code reading have been
covered in the ‘Food’ and ‘Pharmaceutical’ sections. Other
packaging applications can range from checking the packaging
materials and the packaging themselves for defects to checking fill
levels and the integrity of the final packaging for product purity and
shelf-life considerations. Examples include the orientation of bottle
lids, the integrity of seams in cans and the presence of foil seals in
container lids which will ultimately be heat sealed onto the neck of
the container.

Developing techniques

Many emerging techniques have facilitated packaging inspection.
Smart cameras can be programmed for individual inspections and
decision-making anywhere on the packaging line. Thermal imaging
cameras can be used to check the correct application of hot-melt glue
for cardboard carton assembly. NIR imaging makes it possible to image
the contents through some packaging materials at the same time as
inspecting the print on the packaging itself. Hyperspectral imaging is
a new technique that can inspect the contents of packaging.

The impact of 3D imaging

From its early beginnings, 3D vision required specialist
programming expertise to take the raw data output and configure
it for different factory control networks. Huge amounts of
expensive processing power and bulky equipment were needed.
Now, with advances in embedded, smart technologies, 3D is
affordable and accessible to many without specialist skills. Instead
of a camera or lasers that need complex configuration with a
separate PC, new ‘intelligent’ sensors offer all-in-one vision
solutions. However, that does not mean that we have arrived at
“one size fits all” in 3D vision. Instead, from high-performance
cameras, advanced colour, 3D measurement and multi-scanning
technology through to stand-alone programmable sensors, we
have reached a continuum of choice. With a solution for every
application, the challenge now is to match the best technology to
the process.

Applications include checking the contents, content, number
and fill of a container. This is useful for products such as
chocolates or biscuits in compartmented containers. Not only is
the absence of an item noted, the insertion of a damaged or wrong
item can also be flagged up. Overfill levels can be a problem, for
example where totes, bags and tubs which must meet a safe
carrying weight limit or allow safe stacking, or food products such
as meat are over-height and filling would interfere with sealing the
plastic film cover correctly. Checking the orientation of products
like shampoo bottles prior to shrink wrapping can avoid awkward
shaped packing that does not fit into outer cartons, resulting in
waste and downtime.

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

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