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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2001, MCB UP Limited
Keywords: Automation, Packaging
In the personal care products industry, proper packaging is a prime concern. Shaklee Corp., a supplier of personal care, nutrition, and household products based in San Francisco, wanted to ensure that its products were being packaged correctly on a filling line at a contract manufacturing site, where different products were being packaged in similar containers. As a line check, Shaklee specified an intelligent optic system able to distinguish between similar containers used to package different personal care products on the filling line.
The containers have a similar size, shape, and artwork. The optical sensor distinguishes among containers by focusing on the copy, or labelling, on each package. So far, the device has worked well on the line, which has speeds of up to 70 containers per minute. The optical device called Eyebot, manufactured by SIGHTech Vision Systems Inc. of San Jose, California, is equipped with a field gate array chip, which allows it to distinguish good images from bad ones. Integration costs are dramatically reduced, because there is no PC, frame grabber, complicated interface, software or programming involved, according to the company. Eyebot is designed for a niche of users that need a simple plug and play solution.
The device is simple to operate. The user connects the Eyebot to any video camera, presents acceptable products to the device and pushes a button to start the learning process. During operation, if the Eyebot sees anything it did not learn initially, it will alert the user.
The Eyebot can be used in two ways: when it recognises an object it has learned; and for object inspection, in which it alerts when it does not recognise an object and so detects a defect. The Eyebot is available in two versions. The Shape Eyebot can be used for applications such as verifying that there are threads on a nut, that a bearing is lying in its correct position, or that a car label is orientated correctly. The Spectrum Eyebot is sensitive to colours, and can be used to inspect fruit and vegetables for colour differences or verify that a correct colour label is applied.