The automation solutions deployed in the Ottakringer Brauerei AG, Vienna, demonstrate the effectiveness and attractive cost/performance ratio of the Cognex Checker® sensor. Their inspection stations are now able to guarantee that beer crates and boxes of canned beverages contain the correct amount of product.
Check it with Checker!
Customer satisfaction is a decisive factor in face of tough competition in the brewery business. Ottakringer Brewery needed to guarantee packaging units contained the full number of defect-free products, as a quality measure to prevent customer complaints. The second-largest Austrian brewery was able to make significant production and quality improvements while reducing costs by using the intelligent Checker high-speed sensor from Cognex. Image-based sensors are increasingly taking over the tasks previously performed by standard sensor technology. In this brewery, intelligent sensor technology benefited production lines and sales and also proved to be an important factor for the company's activities in the competitive contract bottling market.
Quality and quantity ensured by smart sensor technology
The main priority of the brewery's maintenance department is the inspection of beer crates and boxes of cans to ensure they contain the correct amount. Ottakringer contacted the image processing department of Cognex partner Schmachtl GmbH. The brewery's production automation needs and priorities were established by the Schmachtl team. These tasks are performed successfully by Checker, the vision sensor solution from Cognex. In order to allow the brewery to develop an in-house solution, Schmachtl provided a test unit and specialist advice giving the maintenance team the flexibility to set up the checking station themselves. The ease of installation and operation as well as the simple programming of the system using a laptop computer proved significant advantages. The brewery was able to start automatically inspecting the boxes of beverage cans for in January 2006. The procedure involves passing each box along a running conveyor belt equipped with the Checker sensor to determine whether it contains 24 correctly inserted cans before the box is shrink-wrapped.. The results of the check are transferred directly to the production control system. Production flow is improved and batch production statistics are easily obtained.
Fast and scalable: from cans to crates
Their positive experiences with the checking system for boxes of cans encouraged the maintenance department introduce the solution to further applications. The next step was to introduce a completeness check on the beer crates. This inspection method needed to be replaced with a more modern, more flexible and more reliable checking technology. In the past, a complicated system technology using many individual sensors was used. The in-house maintenance department decided to use 'Checker' in February 2006 and the job was complete by March. The simple, space-saving design proved to be of great benefit, meaning that no fundamental changes to the conveyor line were required. Checker inspects the beer crates on the running conveyor belt to check they have the correct amount. Checker can also differentiate whether the bottles have light or dark tops thus performing an extra quality inspection on the bottling line. The intelligent sensor automatically adjusts to the respective product determining whether an 18, 20 or 24 bottle crate is on the line. The operating staff do not have to modify the checking station when changing the job type. The checking station now operates on a two to three-shift basis and reliably inspects beer crates at a rate of approximately one per second. Integration of Checker into the control technology of the production system was easy due to the standardized interface. Checker also causes the production belt to stop automatically if a fault is registered.
Operating staff are able to program new jobs quickly and easily at any time using a laptop. With the new "Train and Go" capability, new characteristics can be programmed into a sensor even without a PC. When the job type on the production line is changed, the Checker can automatically switch over to as many as 16 different sensor configurations in real time. As a result, this checking station still possesses significant flexibility potential in terms of product range and characteristic selection.
Internal success shows on the outside
An intelligent solution that means quality improvements are clearly noticeable right down to customer level ultimately contribute to an improved company image and the brewery is already checking the possibility of additional applications.
Checker – facts and figures
· Compact, independent all-in-one solution
· Small and robust, protection class IP67
· simple configuration and installation
· Integrated LED illumination and lens
· Analyses up to 500 images per second
· Direct process integration (no PLC required)
· No external trigger necessary
· Industrial I/O interface
· Integrated USB 2.0 interface
· 24 VDC operating voltage
· "Train and Go" capability
· Dimensions: 53.2 x 129.2 x 45.9 mm