3D Vision Solutions for Food and Beverage Applications

In the food and beverage industry, packaging quality verification protects a brand’s image and prevents product spoilage, but the system requires precision. The following three vignettes highlight food and beverage inspection challenges and how they are solved with the right machine vision solution.

Can Inspection

Inspecting aluminum cans for missing or damaged features must be done quickly to prevent bottlenecks. A small dent in a can or a tab lifted by just two degrees can result in a failure. Defects this small are difficult or impossible to identify with 2D imaging systems. However, moving to a 3D solution may disrupt production and require retraining workers. Every second counts in high-speed applications, where a few seconds may represent hundreds or thousands of products.

3D-L4000 camera scanning aluminum cans on conveyor belt and screenshots from inspection software

To achieve higher levels of detection without disrupting production or implementing long training programs, Cognex developed the In-Sight 3D-L4000 vision system. This high-performance smart camera delivers the best-quality patented laser imaging. It can detect: 

  • Blobs or volumes
  • Edges
  • Surface angles
  • Step heights, etc. 

With both 2D capabilities and true 3D vision, the In-Sight 3D-L4000 can simultaneously run both a 2D and 3D inspection of the part. The In-Sight 3D-L4000 is available in three models to meet specific requirements for a range of applications, such as can, packaging, and product inspection.  

Final Product Inspection

Food comes in many shapes and sizes. Identifying different candies, verifying frostings and decorations are correct and determining whether a finished product will fit inside its packaging are all complex tasks for automated imaging systems. To keep up with industry, 3D solutions and easy-to-use software work together to make the food and beverage industry even sweeter.   

Brand image is important. If a customer sees a missing cookie, broken cereal bars, or cupcake frosting smashed into the lid of a container, they may not purchase the product, and instead associate the brand with poor quality. To verify a product’s quality, 3D vision solutions are needed. Tasks include: 

Detecting defects
Identifying parts – e.g., cookie versus frosting 
Verifying heights
Ensuring proper volume
Checking flatness
Verifying presence and absence of components

High-quality optics and smart cameras are needed to accurately detect features and to determine volumes. The In-Sight 3D-L4000 provides the performance needed to guarantee product quality. However, the biggest challenges may not be solved with the camera alone. The next application demonstrates the need for software interfaces that are easy to set up, operate and maintain.

Isabel Pagliaccio


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