Bottle Inspection with High Speed – BBull STRATEC BC 3000W

Food & Beverages | HALCON | Bar Code & Data Code Reading | Classification | Matching | Measuring | OCR & OCV
Diagram – kindly provided by Vision Systems Design Magazine

To inspect tens of thousands containers an hour, is a challenge that faced up the German beverage industry specialist BBULL TECHNOLOGY. BBull's high speed machine vision system STRATEC BV 3000W effects an all-around control of labels, tins and bottles.

The system must control labels on the front, the backside, and at the bottle's neck. It checks the labels' fit, reads the expiration date, appraises the quality of captions, detects scratches, controls graphic elements as logos, and discovers dog-ears. Naturally, bar codes and data matrix codes must be identified and read neutrally against rotation and position.

All these features are required by today's 100% quality control in industry. BBull is a specialist for quality control in bottling and tinned food and disposes of 15 years experiences with machine vision in these industries.

As a matter of fact, BBull is not unescorted at this market. There are many manufacturers of quality control systems, but no other system is currently able to handle these enormous quantities of test items. For that purpose, machine vision software is needed that not only shows surpassing reliability and robustness, but also is able to manage an enormous amount of data in highest speed. Up to a hundred thousand inspections an hour is possible. BBull's engineers settled on the machine vision software library HALCON from MVTec, because HALCON – as a unique product at the world market – offers automatic operator parallelization (AOP). The HALCON based software currently runs on an industrial PC under Windows, the pulsing of the devices is about 1.8 gigahertz. The fitting of hardware and HALCON's effectiveness was sufficient to perform the postulated requirements of the system.

"Without HALCON, our project with this high performance would have been impossible", says Georg Krauss, CTO for control systems at BBull's. "HALCON is able to rule this speed, to thread this amount of data, and to reliably process them."

To operate this enormous amount of containers, the machine vision application must acquire and process four camera images in parallel running on a single PC. Furthermore, the system supports other complex tasks. BBull has developed a procedure to control swing cap bottles. This someway nostalgic manner to cap beer bottles currently undergoes an irresistible renaissance. However, to control the swing caps and labels of these bottles is a complex challenge. The metal bails must be in the right position, cap and packing ring adjusted, the seal label undamaged, and defilements or damages in the aperture area must be discovered. Moreover, before the packing process the barrels must be checked for completeness. All these control tasks are mastered by the STRATEC BV 3000W in highest speed.

The HALCON based machine vision software can be addressed by a user-friendly touch-screen. Thus, all relevant data can be intuitively accessed and easily revised. To integrate the image processing management system into existing industrial bottling systems, BBull offers the necessary interfaces. Thereby, redundancies can be avoided and workflows can be eased. BBull assures that individual adaptations are possible anytime. The STRATEC BV 3000W convinces by its flexibility. With this plant, not only the speed of production arises up to the edge of feasibility but also the quality of products is optimally assured. Thus, many worldwide operating bottling companies and manufacturers have already elected this solution to upgrade their equipment. The system was installed, e.g., at Coca Cola, at Pedigree in England, Diageo-Baileys in Irland, and at the largest Korean brewery Hite.

Author: Dr. Lutz Kreutzer

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