Saving Dough with High-Speed Cookie Inspection
A sophisticated multi-camera vision system gives a well-known cookie maker a new advantage
To speed up the final few stages of the manufacturing process of an international food and beverage company, an automated inspection solution that increases customer satisfaction and ensures they meet the company’s high standards is implemented into the company’s production line.
As any manufacturing company would agree, the final stages of the manufacturing process play a critical role in the how the final product turns out. There are so many components involved which can ultimately decide if a product will be sent out for distribution or tossed into the discard pile. The Latin American company MCPack, provides innovative inspection solutions to help its customers in the food and beverage, cosmetic, and pharmaceutical industries to ensure the quality and integrity of product packaging.
The Automation Take Over
When one of MCPack’s customers completely automated the final phases of its production process using robotic technology for packaging and shipping, their existing manual inspection method became a great challenge. Workers had to visually check to confirm that the ends of each package were completely sealed, that seals were folded correctly, and that seals were intact (without tears or holes) as the packages were placed in cartons for shipping.
“Inspecting packages before shipment was a critical step in our customer’s manufacturing process, but the manual inspections they used were time consuming and highly unreliable; it was virtually impossible for workers to check every package. This meant that the final stages of the manufacturing process were slow and cumbersome, increasing the time between packaging and when a product reached store shelves.” – MCPack Director, Marcelo Cozac
MCPack wanted to increase quality control and ensure that the packaging for each product shipped met the company’s high standards, so they invested in the support of Teledyne DALSA’s vision systems to solve their dilemma. MCPack and Teledyne DALSA collaborated to design and deploy two different inspection systems to accommodate the unique packaging requirements of square and round cookies or biscuits.
Rectangular Packages and Square Cookies
The first automated system was developed to inspect rectangular packages with square ends. A BOA camera was placed on each side of the production line – across a total of five lines – to capture color images with a 1024 x 768 resolution of both ends of each package. The embedded Sherlock software was then used to assess the images of the seal on each end of the packages, checking for the accuracy of folds and seals, as well as for tears or holes.
Since the packages were being sealed using a heat-based system, the inspection process was also able to check for wrinkling in the package wrapper. Package wrinkling meant that excessive heat was being used to seal the package and the integrity of the seal was being threatened as a result. Teledyne DALSA’s inspection cameras allowed the manufacturers to detect inconveniences in their system and adjust their process accordingly to ensure each package fell in line with the company’s high standards.
Tube-shaped Packages and Round Cookies
While the goal of the first application was primarily for convenience, the second application “needed to accommodate a significant quantity of high-quality, color images, which would be generated by eight separate cameras across four production lines. To ensure more efficient image logging and viewing, we’ve incorporated a localized vision processor – the GEVA – into the design,” notes Montgomery.
One year after the success of the first system was implemented a second system was developed to inspect the seals on tube-shaped packages that had round ends using Teledyne DALSA’s Genie cameras with a 1024 x 768 resolution and integrated with the GEVA300 embedded vision system and Sherlock Professional vision system software.
After both applications were implemented, packages are now being inspected at a rate of two packages per second, meaning faster, more accurate quality assessment. MCPack’s “customer has realized increased production rates, as well as labor and time savings,” Cozac concludes.
“A single inspection system operator now does the work of multiple employees who used to be needed to check packages manually, which significantly reduces manpower costs. Finally, our customer can be confident that their quality control efforts are working and know that all the packages of these products on store shelves meet their high standards.” – MCPack Director, Marcelo Cozac
Currently, the international food and beverage company is considering the potential of implementing additional automated systems on other production lines to inspect the packaging of products such as candy before they are shipped. Ever since the first automated vision system application, MCPack has begun to design and develop similar inspection systems for other manufacturers in the region.
Teledyne DALSA’s imaging technology is not limited to the inspection of and quality control of product package sealing. Systems have also been developed for counting the number of pills in pharmaceutical containers, verifying the presence and correct orientation of labels as well as identifying blemishes or foreign material on products, among others. This has lead to the use Teledyne DALSA machine vision capabilities and tools in a wide variety of manufacturing processes.