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Photonics and Food: Vision Shouldn't Blur Your Beer

Photonics Spectra
Mar 2000
Daniel C. McCarthy, Senior News Editor

A couple of bottles of beer between friends may give rise to some colorful reflections on life. Reflection, however, can pose problems for machine vision in beer bottling and other inspection applications.

Photonics Spectra outlined a hypothetical bottling inspection application and pitched it to three integrators to see what vision solutions they could propose. Only one returned a solution by our deadline.

Our conjectural beer bottler, we explained, has just received a contract to bottle light-colored beer and wishes to automate inspection of the bottles in-line.

David Dechow, president of Insight Integration Inc. in Lansing, Mich., proposed three independent stations for this application to perform separate inspections for bottle top chips; for caps, fill level and foreign objects; and for label placement.

Although the optics change for each application, each station uses full-frame acquisition and progressive-scan cameras, and processes images with a PC-based frame grabber connected to a Windows-based standard imaging library.

This arrangement, said Dechow, provides a balance of performance and cost efficiency. Additional capabilities, inspections or greater accuracy are possible at much greater expense. Also, besides the inspections we outlined, Dechow said further machine vision solutions could provide statistical process control, such as monitoring product bar codes, batch numbers or other lot identification information.


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