Het Kaasmerk b.v in the Netherlands is using a DataMan® ID reader to read the codes marked on individual blocks of cheese. The cheese mark with the 2D code is applied to the cheese at as early a stage of the production process as possible.The code is made from casein (a protein particular to cheese) and is therefore edible. This 2D code is not however immune to damage, as it undergoes the same treatment as the cheese itself during the production process. Pickling (salt bath) and coating (application of a paraffin or plastic layer) can cause significant damage. The mark can often become distorted as a result of the puffing up of the cheese.
The applied code functions as a veritable passport. In the past, these codes consisted of regular text which had many disadvantages. Isotron Systems and Het Kaasmerk B.V. therefore sat down together and jointly introduced the 2D dot matrix codes to cheese producers. They improved the contrast and cell size of the 2D code on the cheese marks.
Jeroen van der Meulen adds, “We opted for the Cognex In-Sight® ID reader in a waterproof casing. The implementation of the patented IDMax® algorithm also enables unclear, damaged and distorted codes to be read without difficulty. The codes must remain legible during the distribution and sales phases. To this end we provide portable readers: the DataMan 7500 series with its unique lighting source and IDMax with which highly irregular codes can be read. This provides a solution for new, young, and old cheeses. This solution offers 100 percent certainty. It is after all inacceptable for a code to be misread or that a reader indicates a different code than what is written on the cheese mark. This solution is 100 percent waterproof and counterfeit proof,” he concludes.
In order to adhere to the Bios Time corporate concept, “to make excellent products, quality becomes our responsibility”, the company required a more sophisticated approach to detecting defects and ensuring product quality control. The goal on the production line is to ensure that every product packaged in a box have the exact same serial number printed by the laser printer.
To address these quality control challenges, Bios Time decided to adopt an approach in which product data is collected and uploaded after the machine vision system completes its inspection. Using this approach guaranteed the packaging quality, improved the level of automation, and increased overall productivity.
Overall, the Cognex products have provided Bios Time with a highly stable and accurate way to eliminate defective products. Both the In-Sight Micro and DataMan 100Q systems are compact, easy to integrate, and feature powerful and flexible software functionality. The system has been adept at verifying and improving product packaging quality, productivity, capacity, and the degree of production automation.
When Meridian Beverage Co.’s new high-tech bottling line needed fill-and-cap verification, services provider Hamilton/ITS specified a reliable inspection sensor from Cognex that uses patterns to detect and inspect bottles and caps at speeds of 375 per minute. The challenge presented to Hamilton/ITS of Vidalia, Georgia was to provide a reliable “Fill & Cap” verification system for a new bottling line on behalf of Meridian Beverage Company of Atlanta.“The challenge is to kick out bottles that haven’t filled properly or have had the caps put on wrong.” Said Ray Hamilton, president of Hamilton/ITS. “The new line runs almost non-stop at 375 bottles a minute so down time on our system wasn’t an option” he continued.
Cognex Checker sensors are the simple and affordable solution for verifying the presence of product and packaging features. Essentially a versatile “multi-sensor”, a single Checker detects features that would require multiple photoelectric sensors, or may not be within the capability of photo-electrics. The Checker model 101E has a built in PLC.
The Checker sensed 7 different features and sampled 5-7 snapshots of each bottle. The numerous snapshots reduced false negative responses. It self triggered, eliminating the need for an external sensor circuitry. Eliminating external sensors reduces costs of acquisition, design, installation and maintenance. After final in-place tuning, the system tested 100% f0r cap placement and proper fill level. Bottles were fed shoulder to shoulder and at 375 bottles a minute.
The automation solutions deployed in the Ottakringer Brauerei AG, Vienna, demonstrate the effectiveness and attractive cost/performance ratio of the Cognex Checker®
The main priority of the brewery’s maintenance department is the inspection of beer crates and boxes of cans to ensure they contain the correct amount. These tasks are performed successfully by the Checker, the vision sensor solution from Cognex. In order to allow the brewery to develop an in-house solution, Schmachtl provided a test unit and specialist advice giving the maintenance team the flexibility to set up the checking station themselves. The ease of installation and operation as well as the simple programming of the system using a laptop computer proved significant advantages. The brewery was able to start automatically inspecting the boxes of beverage cans.
Their positive experiences with the checking system for boxes of cans encouraged the maintenance department to introduce the solution to further applications. The next step was to introduce a completeness check on the beer crates. This inspection method needed to be replaced with a more modern, more flexible and more reliable checking technology. The simple, space-saving design proved to be of great benefit, meaning that no fundamental changes to the conveyor line were required. Operating staff are able to program new jobs quickly and easily at any time using a laptop. With the new “Train and Go” capability, new characteristics can be programmed into a sensor even without a PC. When the job type on the production line is changed, the Checker can automatically switch over to as many as 16 different sensor configurations in real time. As a result, this checking station still possesses significant flexibility potential in terms of product range and characteristic selection.
Supplying packaging to the world’s high profile consumer drinks manufacturers is serious business. Rexam is investing in vision to automatically inspect bottles in order to ensure that they are intact, clean and meet safety standards.
By the end of the 1990s the company had begun to invest in vision systems in order to improve the quality and reduce the number of errors in the manufactured beverage containers. Then the company got an order from an important customer to develop a beer-bottle made of polyethylene naphthalene (PEN). These bottles have a more glass-like quality compared to their PET bottles and can withstand higher temperatures during washing. During the manufacturing of the PEN bottles, a problem arose with air-bubbles appearing in a small number of them. The customer was concerned that the bubbles would cause cracks thus risking contamination.
The Application Solution
Rexam decided to implement vision systems from Cognex in order to develop a process of sorting out defective bottles thus eliminating the problem reducing the failure rate to almost nil.
Use of vision systems is a part of Rexam’s efforts to become a resource-efficient company. For improved quality and customer-satisfaction in the face of stiff competition. With the use of vision systems, the quality of bottle manufacturing is assured. The amount of unnecessary waste is eliminated through vision inspection.
MillerCoors operates multiple breweries located throughout the United States and produces such popular brands as Coors, Miller, as well as a wide variety of specialty and craft beers.
The company relies upon Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) housed in electronic enclosures to control their automated brewing and packaging operations. These critical devices can cost over $100,000. They raise internal cabinet temperatures to 131° Fahrenheit and would quickly overheat without proper cooling.
MillerCoors needed enclosure air conditioners capable of communicating with their PLCs that could report problems before high internal temperatures impacted component longevity and potential productivity.
Application In chemical, pharmaceutical, and aseptic process equipment, process components and liquids must be transported from their storage tanks to a process reactor. It is of vital importance that these components are not spilled and that the wrong liquids are never introduced into the reactor, as this could result in costly process interruptions that must be prevented.
Small RFID read heads are mounted near the metal hose couplings. Reliable operation under harsh environmental conditions is assured.
Process security and prevention of downtime by eliminating the introduction of the wrong process components and liquids.
What has been done
Chemical plants typically utilize continuous process methods. Process interruptions and errors frequently result in significant yield losses and associated costs. In order to protect such processes with nearly 100% reliability, and to exclude any human and external machine introduced errors, the hose couplings are equipped with RFID technology. A hose connection with an incorrect process medium for the current process can be securely identified. The transport valves for this invalid connection will not open and the error will be clearly displayed, allowing an immediate response by the operators. Important for these kinds of applications are reliable RFID hardware components and RFID tags that can be flush mounted inside a protective metal collar. In food and beverage applications, hose and pipes are regularly flushed using sanitary cleaning solutions. In this case, it is also important to securely separate the cleaning agents from the food.
Monitoring hose connections with RFID guarantees the introduction of the right material at the right time and assures that the correct measuring equipment is used for the process.
The level measurement in buffer tanks is a key application in bottling machines. The correct level must be measured in order to ensure the liquid supply to the bottling systems. The SICK LFP Inox level sensor reliably distinguishes between liquid media and foaming. Using FDA-compliant materials, the LFP Inox is suitable for applications with stringent hygiene requirements.
The customer’s thermoforming equipment was using two opposing vertical hydraulic cylinders that came together to compress polystyrene sheets into foam trays at a high rate of speed. These trays are commonly found in grocery stores mainly in the meat department for meat and fish, fast food containers, restaurant take out containers, etc.
The customer wanted a “green” solution that eliminated the undesirable traits of hydraulics – such as mess from hydraulic fluid leaks, constant maintenance, etc. They were also seeking a higher production rate and improved product consistency.
The Exlar proposal consisted of an Exlar®FT35-0410 with high capacity screw, 2:1 parallel mount, oil ports with site gauge and a Schneider servo motor / drive.
The Exlar actuation solution nearly doubled the production rate from 20 cpm to 37 cpm. It also provides significantly better consistency of the finished product
Seattle Chocolates, located in Seattle, Washington, produces gourmet chocolate truffles and truffle bars. They produce multiple chocolate recipes such as raspberry, mint, and coconut on the same dispensing machine.
Seattle Chocolates used pneumatic cylinders to dispense and press their chocolate truffles and truffle bars. With the pneumatic cylinders, Seattle Chocolates adjusted physical stops each time they switched product recipes. This was very time consuming because an employee needed to leave the control room to the production level to make the adjustments on the machinery. Seattle Chocolates was looking for a solution which would simplify and speed up this process. They had limited space on their machine to mount electronic components and the bulky cables associated with a component servo system. Seattle Chocolates needed a compact actuator that didn’t require an additional drive in the control panel.
Seattle Chocolates found Exlar’s Tritex II® was the perfect replacement for their pneumatic cylinders. The Tritex II actuators were easily integrated into Seattle Chocolates existing PLC system and allowed them to pre-program multiple settings for their various product recipes. Now, the employee pushes a button to set the machine for the new batch of chocolate truffles. Exlar’s Tritex II actuator also offered a longer life than comparable products and was available in a smaller size without sacrificing force levels. Since the Tritex II actuator is fully integrated, Seattle Chocolates did not have to find space for separate drives. Exlar’s Tritex II actuator was a complete solution for Seattle Chocolate’s multiple challenges.