Smart solution package instead of smart camera
Camera-based inspection becomes more important in every aspect in the industry. Thanks to their modularity and universal appeal, so-called smart cameras can—in principle—be used at many inspection points. In addition, the price of such a camera unit is apparently attractive. However, smart cameras quickly reach their limits when things get “serious”. The following article, in conjunction with concrete examples from beverage bottling, is intended to show that integrated systems are the better alternatives.
Judging from our experience over the years, we see an increase in customers who first bought a smart camera solution, but then quickly reach its limits and require a complete and versatile solution.
Indeed, using a smart camera to monitor a control step is tempting. The seemingly limitless construction kit of modules and functions in smart cameras gives the impression of offering an answer to every question. In beverage bottling, for example, for checking the presence of the cap, the label, or the best-before date.
No, there is much more to it!
On the one hand, of course, the know-how lies in the camera technology used. Only the right illumination, which usually goes far beyond a simple LED flash for a meaningful image, as well as the software and the associated image processing with its algorithms make such a system superior and truly variable. After all, the user should be able to switch the inspection device at the touch of a button when frequently changing the products and equipment variants to be filled – only an integrated solution makes this possible and is therefore easy to control.
In addition, the integrated solution comes with useful features such as production data acquisition, user administration, convenient variety management, and remote maintenance, and will still be supported by the manufacturer in 10 years or more.
More than just technology:
what else belongs to a good all-round carefree package:
- Keeping promises! A clean evaluation of the recognition BEFORE the order and the binding promise of the recognition accuracies are part of it.
- Explain how it works! Training, whether on-site or digital, is mandatory. Especially for learning new variants.
- Do not leave alone! 24/7 hotline and remote service, just in case.
As in Europe, with the regulation on provision of food information to
As an optical fill level and cap inspection system, miho offers the miho Newton Optics 3. This device completes the lineup of x-ray, high frequency and infra-red fill level and cap controls of the miho Newton line. The optical system of the miho Newton Optics 3 is capable of checking for both, under- and overfilling, as well as high caps, slant caps, roll-on check for metal screw caps, cap color and print presence, as well as presence of wrap around labels and coding on bottle neck, all within one integrated solution. There is no need for additional software adaption when teaching in a new bottle type. This system is ready for additional accessories as the following:
In conjunction with a filler management system (filler valve and capper element monitoring), the bottler has a tool at hand with which he can precisely track which filler valve is permanently underfilling or overfilling or which capper element is increasingly producing faults (preventive maintenance). Bottle burst monitoring, which is part of filler management, also has a significant function in consumer protection. It detects whether a bottle has burst during the pressurization or filling process.
All information is documented in a corresponding production data acquisition system.
Integrated solutions offer the enormous advantage here of integrating additional modules. Particularly in the case of fill level control, where it is not always possible to check by optical means, other measuring methods must also be used. Here for example, a x-ray inspection head can be added to the miho Newton Optics, as well as a high frequency or infra-red one (see Figure 1).
Not to be forgotten: each control point must usually be linked to a rejection system and associated rejection monitoring. Digital linkage with store floor data collection and, further, a cross-production MES will become the standard.
In contrast, the smart camera solution is not functional until a PC is added for parameterization and a control system, for example via a PLC, which takes over product tracking/rejection/parameterization.
Figure 1: Inspection after filling and capping.
As a rule, each bottle is checked for several characteristics. The inspection becomes even more difficult when it comes to swing-top bottles or products are filled with pulp.
The miho Newton Optics 3 integrated fill level and cap inspection system with its optional modules covers all the necessary checks.
All these failures can be recognized by the label control miho EC-Cam. The If all these tasks are to be performed by a smart camera system, several cameras are required. Due to different bottle shapes, a reproducible height adjustment is also required, or additional cameras are needed to bypass this adjustment. And the list goes on.
Figure 2: Behind the filler and capper: integrated control of the fill level, the closure
Via the miho HSPM 2-channel servo pusher, a complete filler round is discharged into the single-channel outlet within the time frame specified by the QA department. The line-up of bottles is clearly assigned to the individual filling valve. See Figure
And the container itself?
In the food, homecare and pharmaceutical sectors, unlike bottles, the containers are often not cylindrical. Despite the significant difference, the requirements after filling and capping remain the same, see Figure 3.
Figure 3: Containers for pharmaceuticals, home care and food
Containers made of plastic, such as those typical for food, homecare and pharmaceuticals, also have to be inspected after filling and sealing, which can be done reliably with the miho Newton Optics 3.
Criteria also include compliance with a variety of guidelines and regulations, nationally and internationally, such as:
- the Food Labeling Ordinance (LMKV)
- the Food Information Regulation of the EU-
- the guidelines of the US FDA
- the guidelines of the British Retail Consortium (BRC)
The label must be checked for presence, logical correctness, integrity, EAN barcode, best before date, language variants, country code, see Figure 4.
With today’s variety of container shapes and equipment variants, an integrated solution is superior to the smart camera solution here as well.
Figure 4: Full equipment check after labeling and printing of the BBD.
The miho EC-Cam camera modules can universally perform a wide variety of inspection tasks, also integrated in the labeling machine.
Either integrated in the labeling machine or separately in its exit – the last time before packing, the equipment of the individual bottle must be completely checked.
To fit the needs of the customer, miho provides 3 different iterations of the miho Newton Optics 3, with additional integrated camera modules, as seen in Figure 5.
Newton Optics 3 for fill level control
Newton Optics 3 with 360° camera addition for cap, seal and print control
Newton Optics 3 with additional top camera for logo and print control
The miho EC-Cam package is based on the modular concept of its competitors, but exceeds them in terms of benefits for the beverage industry. The miho EC-Cam includes:
- At least one camera unit including adapted lighting concept in a robust design, IP67.
- An operating and evaluation unit with various rejection systems, including rejection monitoring
- Completely revised VIDIOS_SC operating and evaluation software, based on Windows 10 (Figure 6).
For individual solutions, the miho EC-Cam can also be connected with other inspection heads, for example with a vacuum or a fill level control.
Managing the variety of equipment variants is easy with an integrated system. When the variant is changed, the new variant is selected on the operating device by touch, while sometimes a manual height adjustment is carried out – that’s it. An effort in the range of minutes.
Figure 6: At a glance!
VIDIOS_SC is the completely new software platform from miho. The complete control unit is visualized in its individual installation situation, including peripherals such as motor encoders, infeed control, trigger light barriers, and rejection systems, as well as rejection monitoring. The container flow is reproduced schematically. Faults are highlighted directly using colors. All modules reveal their status after clicking.
Figure 7: Full label inspection
of non-cylindrical spirits bottles.
In close cooperation with a liquor filler in the Philippines (see figure 7), a 2-camera setup was developed with which protruding corners and edges of labels (from 5 mm, from 30°) on square bottles can be reliably detected. The systems were installed in 2020 and are working flawlessly ever since.
Figure 8: EC-Cam picture of a label defect in the upper right corner; with EC-Cam overlay
Beside, an example of one of the faults: flagging of a label at the upper right corner, detected with 99.9 % accuracy (see figure 8). Other detection requirements were:
- Label orientation 3 mm off; 99.9 % accuracy
- Sealing foil position (accuracy 4 mm) / no sealing; 99.9 % accuracy
Despite all Corona-Virus restrictions, our local partners installed and commissioned the machines, assisted and supported by German engineers via miho remote assistance. To facilitate the installation process for our partners on site, miho preinstalled the equipment on a piece of miho conveyor in Germany, making it easier to bring in a whole line piece at the customer, without much adaption. For more info on our EC-Cam, please check out our EC-Cam webinar at: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1hSQyVeRYmetqyz8SyZbfFZ99R_uCRJtg?usp=sharing
If the decision to retrofit inspection equipment in the bottling line is pending, one will very quickly realize that the integrated solution from the specialist offers far better control. In addition, there is the added value of good support including spare parts supply, durability thanks to the robust design, and upgrade options in the future.
It seems that the old adage still applies in the modern world: buy cheap, buy twice!