Vision Examples in the Food and Pharmaceutical Industries

Vision systems for protecting food safety and contributing to inspection efficiency

We enjoy a rich and varied diet through economic development. This has made production and distribution increasingly complicated, which poses many questions such as: "Where was this product produced?" or "Are there any problems with residual pesticides or radioactive materials?" Under these circumstances, food safety has once again become a topic of interest. Japanese government agencies including the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare; the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries; and the Consumer Affairs Agency have been encouraging the reinforcement of inspection standards and implementation of traceability.

Conventional inspections of expiration dates, mixing of foreign matter, package failures and other problems had to rely on the human eyes and experience, which was both expensive and time consuming. The human eyes have limitations and it is difficult to visually judge some targets such as medicine pills. In order to reduce the time and labor for improving productivity and to deliver safer and more secure food, an increasing number of companies have introduced image processing in their inspection processes in recent years. The following are examples of vision systems introduced in the food and pharmaceutical industries.

Presence/absence inspection

Check the presence or absence of package contents such as packets of ingredients in instant noodles with a vision system.

Key inspection points

Using a vision system, check the presence or absence of packets of ingredients and soup in instant noodles. A single controller can control multiple cameras. This improves operability and enables use for parallel production lines.

Recognition result with a vision system

Using a vision system, count PET bottles in a cardboard box.

Key inspection points

Using a 21 megapixel camera enables high-accuracy inspection even over a wide field of view. In addition to counting bottles, a single camera enables other inspection such as the inspection of caps for different types by checking minute differences in characters or colors.

Recognition result with a 21 megapixel vision system

Using a vision system, check the presence of straws on juice cartons.

Key inspection points

Checking straw attachment on juice cartons had been unstable due to the non-flat background and variations in the straw position. The LumiTrax function allows stable inspection without being affected by background or position variations.

Recognition result with a vision system and LumiTrax

Defect inspection

Use a vision system for appearance inspection of PET bottle labels to find tears or flaws.

Key inspection points

Inspect PET bottles for torn shrink labels. The high-speed processing can keep up with the fast-moving lines used in the beverage industry.

Recognition result with a vision system

Using a vision system, inspect food containers for stains or flaws.

Key inspection points

Inspect food containers for defects such as stains or wrinkles. High-pixel cameras are also capable of high-speed processing. They can be used even when the inspection requirements will grow or the line speed will increase in the future.

Recognition result with a vision system

Use a vision system for appearance inspection of noodle dough for stains or holes.

Key inspection points

Inspection of noodle dough for stains or holes has to check a wide range. Conventional area cameras could not offer stable judgment because the lighting conditions were not even over the entire range KEYENCE's line scan cameras can achieve even lighting conditions to allow stable inspection.

Recognition result with a line scan camera

Using a vision system, inspect beverage cans for dents or flaws.

Key inspection points

Appearance inspection of cans to find dents or other defects on the sides was difficult because the judgment was affected by printing. Line scan cameras can ignore the printing and extract dents and flaws only.

Recognition result with a line scan camera

Dimension inspection

Using a vision system, inspect the dimensions of syringe needle bevels.

Key inspection points

The bevel of a syringe needle is cut slantwise twice to lessen pain during use. Conventional vision systems could not differentiate the surfaces. Using specific lighting conditions has enabled accurate measurement and management of the dimensions of the bevels.

Recognition result with a vision system

Using a vision system, inspect the misalignment of container labels.

Key inspection points

Inspect the labels wrapped around containers for misalignment. In addition to misalignment, peeling labels and other appearance defects can be inspected simultaneously.

Recognition result with a vision system

Using a vision system, inspect the sealing width of packets.

Key inspection points

The inspection of packet sealing width was unstable due to the influence of patterns, uneven surfaces and glare. The LumiTrax function enables inspection based on shape only, by using the information of the uneven surface of the sealed section.

Recognition result with a vision system and LumiTrax

Positioning/alignment

Using a vision system, detect patterns on cans and recognize the orientation.

Key inspection points

Before cans are packed, detect the patterns to align the orientation. Outputting the position information of a mark to the facility for the correction to rotate the product saves labor for packing.

Pattern alignment with a vision system

Use a vision system for positioning for a confectionery boxing robot.

Key inspection points

Boxing of confectionery packs was a typical process that was done manually; however, it has been increasingly automated through the introduction of image processing and robots.

Positioning with a vision system

Verification inspection

Using a vision system, check best-before dates marked on food or medicine products.

Key inspection points

The system checks for defective marking such as incorrect marking or illegible characters. Storing the inspection data with images for long periods is an effective provision in case of trouble.

Recognition result with a vision system

Using a vision system, inspect characters and barcodes printed on medicine packages.

Key inspection points

The need for traceability is increasing in the pharmaceutical industry. Image processing allows a single inspection system to conduct various inspections, checking characters, barcodes labels, and more.

Recognition result with a vision system

3D Machine Vision Inspections

Using a 3D measurement system, count chocolate pieces and check for missing pieces.

Key inspection points

Using the LJ-V7000 Series 3D measurement system enables not only counting targets but also checking voids or foreign particles on the target surfaces as well.

Recognition with 3D images

Using a 3D measurement system, inspect the appearance of blister packs.

Key inspection points

It is very difficult to perform stable inspections for tears in blister packaging. By using a 3D vision system, it is possible to detect these defects without being affected by surface glossiness and curvature.

Recognition with 3D images

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