Production Line Inspection System

Leveraging machine vision systems for enhanced quality control in the biscuit industry

The Challenge: Ensuring Product Quality and Minimizing Downtime

As a renowned control system integrator, Adbro Controls was approached by Pladis to implement a production line inspection system in their Jacobs factory in Liverpool. Within the bustling biscuit industry, automated packaging machines are increasingly being utilized for their speed and efficiency. However, these machines necessitate the maintenance of stringent product shape and size tolerances.

Our challenge was to engineer a solution that could identify and remove misshapen or broken biscuits before they reach the packaging machines. By pre-emptively eliminating these problematic products, we could minimize production downtime due to stoppages, thereby enhancing overall production efficiency. Leveraging our expertise in machine vision systems and automated reject processes, we set out to design an appropriate solution for Pladis’ unique needs.

Maintaining the quality of the biscuits entering the packaging machines while ensuring a smooth-running production line was no simple task. We needed to design a system capable of thoroughly inspecting each product and rejecting any that fell outside the set tolerances. This would keep both the production line and packaging machines operating at peak efficiency while ensuring the production of high-quality biscuits.

Production Line inspection System
Inspection System Adbro Controls
Inspection System Adbro Controls

The Solution: An Advanced Production Line Inspection System

After careful assessment, we decided that a machine vision system coupled with an automated reject process was the optimal solution for this challenge. Our design included an array of six area scan cameras, strategically spaced across the width of the conveyor belt. These cameras provided individual images that, when stitched together by our bespoke vision software, produced a complete, unified view of the conveyor belt.

Perfecting the stitching process was no simple task. Our software had to account for perspective distortions to ensure each individual image was seamlessly merged with the next. The result? A singular, accurate image, allowing for precise measurements of product dimensions across the conveyor belt width.

The key component that made this possible was an encoder-synced trigger signal. By tying image capture to the belt speed, we ensured continuous 100% belt coverage, no matter the conveyor’s pace. Additionally, we implemented two linear array white LED lights to guarantee optimal illumination for the inspection area.

Every product passing under the camera underwent a thorough inspection of its shape and dimensions. Length, width, area, angle, and deviation from the target shape – our system measured it all. Operators could conveniently set the pass criteria for each measurement via the Human-Machine Interface (HMI). If a product was found deviating from the set limits, it was tagged as a reject and tracked until it could be removed from the line.

To eject these defective products, we installed a pull-nose conveyor. This clever piece of engineering retracts at the right moment, allowing the rejected item to fall from the line and be carried away to a scrap bin by a secondary conveyor.

A highlight of our software was the recipe system. This system allowed for the storage of configuration and pass/fail tolerances for different product types. Operators could easily switch between product setups, enabling efficient inspection changeovers when required.

Furthermore, each inspection’s results were logged in a database and could be queried to generate reports. This provided an invaluable resource for managers, giving them insights into the overall performance of the line, thereby assisting in future decision-making processes.

The Results: Enhanced Efficiency and Quality Assurance

Implementing our innovative production line inspection system resulted in several noticeable improvements for Pladis’ production line. The system was capable of inspecting an impressive 1920 products per minute, providing a 100% inspection rate. This level of thoroughness meant no faulty product could escape the keen eye of our machine vision system.

Operators found it effortless to switch between configurations for the three different product types run on the line, enabling a swift and efficient changeover of inspection when required. The recipe system was instrumental in achieving this ease of transition, proving to be a valuable feature of our solution.

But the benefits didn’t stop at improved efficiency. By identifying and removing misshapen items, we significantly reduced stoppages due to product jams further down the line. This proactive measure ensured the smooth operation of the production line, reducing downtime, and boosting productivity.

One of the most notable improvements, however, was the marked enhancement in product quality. By removing faulty biscuits early in the process, we ensured that only high-quality products reached the end customer. This not only maintained Pladis’ reputation for excellence but also increased customer satisfaction.

In conclusion, Adbro Controls’ advanced production line inspection system provided a powerful solution to Pladis’ challenges. By harnessing the potential of machine vision systems and automated reject processes, we significantly improved production efficiency and product quality on the factory floor. Whether you’re a confectionery manufacturer like Pladis or any business in need of a tailored inspection system, our solutions can enhance your production processes, ensuring superior product quality and operational efficiency.