vision systems


taking another


Incorporating vision systems can add benefits on multiple levels.

By Fred Wilkinson
chief editor

Processors continue to push the growth of vision systems as automation increases on processing and packaging lines. We spoke with Melissa Fischer, director of sales-automation at MULTIVAC USA, about recent developments and trends in meat and poultry processors’ use of vision systems.

What emerging technical developments are furthering vision systems’ capabilities?

There are developments in both the camera technology and the speed of processing the data that are contributing to the success of vision systems. You can now get higher resolution cameras and process them in production rate speeds. We are also starting to see more 3D cameras have a place in the market.

How do vision systems fit in with processors’ overall product quality/food safety efforts?

Vision systems have greatly improved over the last few years and they can add benefits on multiple levels. One of the main reasons for recalls is incorrect labeled product; a vision system can look for graphics, bar codes, date codes, label presence and placement. All of these can avoid a recall to the producer. Another way vision systems can help is to look at the integrity of the seals, any contaminate in the seal area can cause a leaker and spoil the product. In some cases, vision can even inspect the product quality.

vision systems are influencing regulatory more than the other way around. Vision systems can offer 100% inspection, as opposed to spot inspections that are generally done.

For small to medium-size processors, ARE there some operational considerations to keep in mind when weighing whether to incorporate visions systems into their processing line or upgrading their current vision system equipment?

There are a couple things I would suggest to include in consideration. When a product is non-conforming, what do you want the system to do, how will you reject the bad product? The other is to clearly define acceptable verses non-acceptable. Generally, producers will create specifications that are very tight, then are surprised at the amount of rejected products generated.

What regulatory issues are influencing adoption of vision systems?

I would say that vision systems are influencing regulatory more than the other way around. Vision systems can offer 100% inspection, as opposed to spot inspections that are generally done.

As tight labor markets spur processors to automate their production lines, what labor-saving benefits do vision systems offer?

As with most industries, we see an extremely tight labor market. As processors add automation to the lines to reduce labor, they also lose that manual inspection that people add to the process. We often recommend to processors if they are removing people from the line, they should consider adding vision inspection to catch the defects that operators were catching previously.

What capabilities do vision systems offer that other detection systems (X-ray, magnetic, etc.) do not?

They can do a lot more inspection on surfaces such as graphics, print, color and even product presence. Combining vision inspection with recipe management, you can quickly eliminate the potential for a recall situations for mismarked or incorrect labeling. Vision is really designed for the appearance or surface of the product/package.

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