Innovations and trends using machine vision in automated packaging systems

Here’s what Simon Hickman had to say!

Abigail Williams from IMVE recently spoke with Simon Hickman on the innovations and trends in the use of machine vision in automated packaging inspection, ahead of the forthcoming PPMA Total Show (27th-29th Sept, NEC Birmingham), you can read what he had to say below.

Machine vision technologies are widely used for a range of purposes in packaging inspection – with key applications including presence verification, alignment, label inspection and print inspection, as well as product handling, pick-and-place and packaging logistics. As Simon Hickman, managing director at Multipix Imaging, explained, many of these tasks are relatively simple and lend themselves to what he described as smart sensor or smart camera technology, where the image processing is performed by a processor inside the camera.

‘These [smart] cameras are becoming more capable and user friendly, which makes them a good choice for many packaging inspection tasks,’ he said.

Smart cameras are, however, less suitable for multi-view or high-speed applications, and they generally do not have the processing power for complex tasks. For example, Multipix developed and set up an automated quality control system to inspect disposable plastic mouldings at rates of up to 1,200 parts per minute. This system required a PC for processing.

Hickman explained that the system was designed to detect and expel defect parts and reduce damage waste to zero. ‘It was necessary to inspect parts from multiple angles to ensure all sides were free from damage,’ he said, ‘and to perform optical character recognition of the cavity number at the bottom of the part.’

A second camera measured the diameter and a third camera measured the height and profile to complete the full inspection. ‘Handling data from three cameras at these speeds required a PC-based system with the power of Halcon software processing,’ Hickman said.

moving forward, there is no doubt that AI will play a major role in future development, but cautions that it is not the answer to everything.

‘We must all remember that the core of any camera inspection system is the quality of the images, and this requires vision knowledge – selecting the most appropriate camera, lighting, lens and analysis technique will always separate properly engineered solutions that are truly robust and reliable,’ Hickman concluded.

Multipix will be exhibiting at this year’s PPMA Total Show, stand A55, along with our partners Photoneo showcasing the most cutting-edge 3D technologies for your automation projects. You can also see Frantisek Takac presentation on why you should implement 3D vision in your automation projects in Seminar Theatre 1 – D124 from 12:00pm – 12:30pm.