Camera-based cap control with artificial intelligence
Strong price pressure combined with high quality requirements - the beverage and bottle industry faces the classic dilemma of many industries. This is also the case in the quality control department of a French manufacturer of plastic caps. Reliably detecting cracks and micro-cracks on plastic caps in 40 different colours and shades running at high speed on a production line is a real challenge. APREX Solutions from Nancy, France has successfully achieved this goal with the help of image processing technology and artificial intelligence. The basic images are provided by a USB 3 industrial camera from IDS Imaging Development Systems GmbH.
SOLOCAP is a subsidiary of La Maison Mélan Moutet, "flavour conditioner since 1880" and manufactures all types of plastic caps for the food sector at its industrial site in Contrexéville. Among them, a top-class screw cap suitable for any glass or PET bottle. Thanks to a clampable lamella ring arranged around the bottle collar, it enables simple, fast, absolutely tight and secure seal. However, the slats must be reliably and extremely carefully checked for cracks, tears and twists during production. This is the only way to guarantee absolute tightness.
The previous inspection system could not meet these high requirements. APREX Solutions realised the new solution with artificial intelligence individually on the basis of in-house software algorithms. The necessary specifications were developed in advance in cooperation with the customer. This also included several inspection stages, one of which, for example, was the reject control to avoid false reports. The introduction took place in two phases:
First, the specific "SOLOCAP application" was trained with the help of the intelligent APREX Track AI solution. The software includes various object detector, classifier and standard methods that operate at different levels. Networked accordingly, they ultimately deliver the desired result tailored to the customer. Four control levels with several test points guarantee a reliability rate of over 99.99%.
At the same time, it records all workflows in real time and ensures complete traceability. Only one camera is needed for this. However, APREX TRACK C&M could handle up to 5 cameras.
“The difficulty of this project consisted mainly in the very subtle expression of the defects we were looking for and in the multitude of colours. With our software suite, it was possible to quickly set up an image processing application. Despite the complexity," explains Romain Baude - founder APREX Solutions. The image from the camera provides the basis for the evaluations. It captures every single cap directly in the production line at high speed and makes the smallest details visible to the software.
The excellent colour reproduction of the UI-3280CP-C-HQ and its high resolution of 5 MP were decisive factors for us in choosing the camera. At the same time, the model enabled a quick, uncomplicated integration into our system.
Anthony Vastel - Head of Technology and Industry at SOLOCAP - sees a lot of potential in the new inspection system: "APREX's AI-based approach has opened new doors for our 100% vision-based quality control. Our requirements for product safety, but also for reject control, especially in the case of false reports, were quickly met. We are convinced that we can go one step further by continuing to increase the efficiency of the system at SOLOCAP and transferring it to other production lines." AI offers quality assurance, but also all other industries in which image processing technology is used, new, undreamed-of fields of application. It makes it possible to solve tasks in which classic, rule-based image processing reaches its limits. Thus, high-quality results can be achieved with comparatively little effort - quickly, creatively and efficiently.
APREX Solutions and IDS have recognised this and offer solutions with intelligent products that make it easier for customers to enter this new world. Image processing and AI - a real dream team on course for growth...