Inspection of bottles with contactless laser scanners

Laser inpection of bottles is just one of the many challenges for bottlers and breweries. Reliable and real-time inspection of returned bottles and automation of the recycling process is indispensable for quality production. Such automation is provided by contactless laser scanners from Micro-Epsilon, with the application of the company from the Tipteh group.

Reliable detection even on the fastest lines

Contactless laser scanners from Micro-Epsilon are being used to quickly and reliably recognise if all the beer bottles are present and the correct type in returned crates. As glass bottles are recyclable, they can be refilled 40 to 50 times.

To ensure a smooth procedure of machine processing such as the removal of caps and labels, as well as washing and refilling, it is necessary to inspect the completeness of bottles and that it is the correct bottle type in the right crate.

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Eliminate human errors

Contactless laser scanners Micro-Epsilon bottle inspection

Different bottle types are a challenge for bottlers and breweries. Often, the glass is trimmed with the brewery logo or the bottles were specially shaped for a certain manufacturer. It is estimated that more than one third of the bottles delivered to the breweries are in the wrong crate.

Crates are often inspected manually, a process which is exhausting, subject to error and costly in terms of human inspection hours. The crates are moved on a conveyor belt which demands lots of concentration from the inspectors.

If the inspectors become tyred, the wrong bottles can slip through, or some crates might be incomplete.

Automate inspection using non-contact laser scanners

Compared with solutions based on conventional image processing systems, laser scanners not only monitor the presence of a bottle but also the height of the bottle. The sensor uses the respective bottle height to determine whether the correct type of bottle is in the crate. The bottle height must not deviate by more than 3 mm from the target height of the respective bottle type.

The PLC receives the result of the evaluation as an »OK« or »not OK« value, whereby any faulty crates can be removed directly from the production line. The user can also output the measured results via an integrated display on the control unit.

Contactless laser scanners Micro-Epsilon

Use an efficient inspection solution

Contactless laser scanners Micro-Epsilon for laser control

Tipteh developed an inspection system using laser line triangulation sensors for fast, fully automatic inspection of empties, which is already being used for the inspection of the received beer bottle crates. This inline inspection system is equipped with five scanCONTROL 2900-50 laser scanners from Micro-Epsilon.

In the production line, the scanners measure from above onto the crates which are moved along a conveyor belt. Each scanner measures a row of bottles in the crates. Presence detection is carried out at conveyor speeds of up to 850 mm/s.

Measuring principle

The Micro-Epsilon scanCONTROL laser sensor is based on the laser triangulation principle for two-dimensional profile detection. It emits a laser beam which is widened to a laser line that hits the measurement object. The laser light is reflected by the target surface and projected onto a highly-sensitive receiving matrix in the sensor (CCD/CMOS).

In addition to distance data (z-axis), the controller also calculates the position along the laser line (x-axis). These measured values ​​are than output in a two-dimensional coordinate system that is fixed with respect to the sensor. If the target moves, or the sensor is traversing, 3D measurement values ​​can be obtained.

Contactless laser scanners measurement principle

Laser inspection highlights

laser inspection Micro-Epsilon

With dimensions of 96 mm x 85 mm x 33 mm and an integrated controller, the scanCONTROL 2900-50 laser scanner is a space-saving, automated solution for the inspection of empties at bottlers and breweries. Because the sensor operates at high speeds up to 2,000 profiles per second, it is ideal for both static and dynamic processes.

The main challenges of this measurement task are the different reflective properties of the bottles. These vary due to different glass colours (mainly green and brown tones). In addition, bottles can arrive with and without caps at goods inwards and these are recognised by the scanner using pre-stored algorithms.

High accuracy, speed and reliability

By simultaneously capturing all points across the line, these sensors correctly measure also the bottles that are constantly vibrating and shaking while being transported on the conveyor belt. They can be positioned at a large distance from the measurement object and detect 1,280 measuring points per profile.

Via GigE Vision, raw data is integrated into image processing software and then evaluated. Data can be logged for subsequent statistics, evaluations and process optimisation. The sensors therefore score highly in terms of their precision, high speed and high reliability, while offering an economic solution for this specific application.

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laser inspection Micro-Epsilon

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