Automated Vision Systems in Packaging Industry
In today’s globalized marketplace, automation plays a critical role in maintaining quality in emerging markets while allowing developed countries to manage rising labor costs. Originally, packaging machines were built to automate specific packaging tasks. However, for a long time, these machines couldn’t operate with complete autonomy. Humans still had to perform various inspection and verification tasks. Although these jobs weren’t dangerous or physically demanding, they took a specific toll on workers. The state of hyper-vigilance required for these tasks led to psychological fatigue. Studies have shown that subjects performing vigilance tasks exhibit elevated levels of epinephrine and norepinephrine, consistent with high-stress levels and indicative of a significant mental workload. Just imagine standing next to the packaging line and monitoring hundreds of products passing by in search of a defect. Even though most of the products are just fine, the worker needs to stay alert in order not to miss a flawed product. That is why vigilance tasks are considered to be stressful andtaxing mental work.
Luckily, automated vision systems changed everything.
Types of Automation Vision Systems
Automated vision systems, also known as machine vision systems, provide image-based inspection for a variety of industrial and manufacturing applications. Now, machines and robots can “see”!
There are more applications for vision systems than ever before. The type of vision system most appropriate for a particular application depends on several factors: what you’re trying to inspect, the specific properties of your process or products, the speed of inspection, and the budget.
2D and 3D cameras are now commonly used for automated inspection, robot guidance, quality control, product sorting, and much more. A smart camera that has been calibrated to perform specific inspections automatically examines products as they flow down or adjusts a process in real-time.
Here, at Tishma Technologies and Nortech Packaging, the use of machine vision systems has become a standard. We utilize high-quality vision systems from our trusted partners Cognex and Keyence, for a variety of applications, and in the following lines, we will describe the most common ones.
Inspection: detecting carton open flaps, dents and other irregularities
Defect inspection systems can catch and resolve product, packaging, or surface defects in real-time. These are just some of the examples:
- Dent inspection
- Label placement verification
- Broken seals
- Surface deformities
- Open flaps
Custom Packaging Inspection allows you to limit the false reject rate and meet the exact quality and standards needed for your product. Examples include: Inspecting for dents, defects, damage, holes, and creases in cartons. You can also use the machine vision system to check labels for wrinkles, position, skew, or date codes.
Verification of barcode, code date, and other label data
Print & Code Inspection Systems can automatically identify incorrect or damaged labels on products before they are released. Examples include:
- Detecting damaged, sparse quality text
- Checking 1D barcodes and 2D date matrix codes for readability and product match
- Inspecting pre-printed artwork, ink-jet quality, laser markings, chemical etchings, etc
- Verifying correct labeling, nutritional information, exact ingredients, etc.
Integration of vision systems with databases and software systems
Process Control Vision Systems allow you to utilize process feedback to achieve an efficient process line with an industrial vision process controls. Examples include:
- Precise control of robot positioning with imaging systems
- Capturing and communicating measured values to various data logging systems
- Historical data capture from your process
- Data trends logging for process monitoring and proactive maintenance
- Event monitoring and event capture systems, etc.
Machine vision has given robots the power to “see” and react to changing conditions. Now, vision-guided robots can “feed” themselves using a two-dimensional (2D) machine vision to locate and guide the robot arm to loosely positioned parts on a conveyor, for example. With a variety of 3D machine vision technologies at their disposal, vision-guided robots can manipulate and assemble products of virtually any size and shape on a conveyor, rack, or bin, and even work right alongside humans without posing a serious safety threat. Nortech Packaging’s Openstack Collaborative Palletizer is the best example of a well-implemented machine vision system that allows this palletizer to work together with humans. Tishma Technologies’ TT-400 Candy Cartoner, and TT-60TG Blister Tray Packer also feature machine vision: they have integrated open flaps detection and rejection systems
So, if you are in a search for a cartoning, tray packing, case packing or palletizing solution with integrated inspection and verification machine vision systems, don’t hesitate to contact us and get a free quote!