The importance of the use of vision systems in IML is increasing. In the light of extremely high cycle speeds and declining investment costs, the use of optical inspection systems is becoming increasingly attractive for operators. In the premium segment of IML applications, they have long since become a must-have feature.
They also play an increasingly important role in the mid-range market segment when it comes to long-term improvements in levels of quality and added value. IML experts such as Beck Automation have been following this trend for years. With their cooperation partner Intravis from Aachen, Germany, a turnkey vision system is now available from an industry insider with Beck Automation acting as a system integrator on the market.
To offer IML users an optimal solution in the area of optical inspection systems from a single source, Beck Automation has entered into a collaboration with Intravis. From now on, Beck Automation offers the option of its high-performance IML systems as turn-key solutions with fully integrated vision systems from Intravis. In doing so, Beck Automation is in charge of system integration and responsibility for the vision system. The vision system is fully integrated into the IML plant before being delivered to customers. After commissioning, Beck Automation customers can profit from Intravis’ global service network. Intravis has offices in Germany, the USA, India, Mexico, Turkey, Russia, South Africa, China and Singapore.
Nino Zehnder, Head of Sales, Beck Automation: “True to Intravis’ motto of solving problems before they emerge, we have found a partner for a turnkey solution who is an expert in quality inspection of plastic packaging and who understands, lives and breathes IML technology just like we do.”
First references show a great deal of promise
This close collaboration makes new, innovative ideas possible, since the plant builder and vision supplier work together right from the concept phase. This makes it possible to develop a solution perfectly tailor-made for the customer.
First references speak a clear language: for example, the development of a system where the distance between the test object (plastic bucket with IML decoration) and the camera lens can be freely adjusted by means of servo. This solution makes it possible to compensate for differences in the size of test objects without direct mechanical adjustment on-camera, leading to significantly faster changeover times.
IML vision with the IMLWatcher from Intravis
At the heart of the vision system from Intravis is the IMLWatcher. The IMLWatcher has been specially developed for quality inspection of the in-mould labelling process. It can check a wide range of objects such as lids, tubs, trays and buckets and all common types of labels including bands and bottom labels. The system can be integrated seamlessly into the production line and supports even the fastest cycle times found in IML high performance production applications.
Possible inspection criteria of the IMLWatcher are:
- Label presence
- Label identity
- Label position (vertical, horizontal, as well as warp or skew)
- Pin marks
- Wrinkle and blister formation
- Printing defects on the labels
- Misalignment of the printed image
- Label edge defects.
The inspection performance of the vision system results from the accuracy and speed of the inspection. The test accuracy is 0.1 mm (for 50 x 50 mm label size). The maximum test speed allows image intervals as short as 20 milliseconds.
High flexibility of the IMLWatchers
Often, it is not clear at the beginning of a project which errors should be tested for effectively. The most common reason is simple: the packaging that will be tested has not even been produced yet. This challenge places huge demands on the flexibility of the vision system. With the IMLWatcher, Intravis has created a system based on many years of industry experience which offers decisive advantages especially when it comes to flexibility. Thanks to the flexible programming of algorithms, the vision system from Intravis can be deployed for almost every test task, every relevant criterion and fine-tuned to the dynamics as well as the objects to be inspected. Nino Zehnder, Head of Sales, Beck Automation says, “This flexibility is of crucial importance for the operator, both when starting production and for product changeover on an IML system. It simply means: a higher level of quality and improved added value.”
Vision systems from Beck Automation as a systems integrator
Operators who opt for an integrated solution from Beck Automation with optical systems from Intravis benefit from an all-round package which combines the experience of these two companies from the packaging industry. As a system integrator and general contractor, Beck Automation implements the configuration. The project planning is based on decades of experience for practical IML inspection systems. After placing the order, Beck Automation ensures that the customer is provided with an inspection solution, including all hardware and software, suitable for his task. For the smooth commissioning on-site at the customer, pre-commissioning of the vision system at Beck Automation as well as a test of the interfaces before delivery to the customer takes place. The vision system is commissioned by the customer in the presence of a technician from Intravis for up to two days on site. The package includes the programming of a maximum of 3 different labels or products for a production start. Programming is carried out on site at the customer during commissioning. In addition, the Intravis technician will provide comprehensive training on the vision system during commissioning. This ensures that all operators are able to set up tests for further labels or products themselves. The organisation and coordination of all commissioning activities is guaranteed by Beck Automation. As a system integrator, Beck Automation assumes responsibility for the perfect functionality of the vision system from Intravis in after sales support and service. Of course, an IML system from Beck Automation can also be equipped with vision systems from other suppliers by the customer. The system integration is then carried out by the operator or the manufacturer of the vision system.
The interplay of investment costs and quality aspects
The capital expenditure for inspection systems has been steadily declining over the years and is now at an affordable level. Depending on the application, the investment for an integrated vision system is 10 to 20% of the purchase price of IML plant. In view of the extremely high production rates and dynamics of an IML process, vision systems are increasingly recommended for quality assurance.
Nino Zehnder, Head of Sales, Beck Automation: “The installation of a camera for quality inspection, is no longer enough. Today’s customer requirements are so individual that the vision system must play a central role even in the concept phase of machine development. From a business point of view, these optical systems are an integral part of the modern IML production process. However, in the project planning phase, only test criteria which make sense and have been adapted to the production task in hand should be defined in order to achieve cost-effective deployment.”