The Control System Integrator Association cites a member’s work in a vision-based robotic packaging installation for packaging and that’s demonstrated in a video link.

By Bob Lowe, guest columnist and Executive Director of the Control System Integrator Association (CSIA

When it comes to technology, everyone seems to be waiting for the “next big thing” to change the way companies do business. In the world of control system integration, it’s not always the latest design, but taking an approach that works in one industry and applying it to another.

Ed Diehl, of Concept Systems, Inc., headquartered in Albany, OR, and a CSIA-certified control system integrator, has used 3D-vision technology with the food & beverage industry for years, but never on the upstream packaging end of integration (for a downstream application of the vision technology, see this Youtube video of bean bag depalletizing).

In-line sorting of variable-sized boxes and mixed products is a common challenge for automated packaging on production lines. So when a customer who had been using a conventional camera system for box sorting asked Concept Systems how to improve business operations, Diehl looked to a 3-D scanner already used as a reliable solution in other industries and developed the In-line Box Sorting 3D-Vision System.

“With this new application, the boxes moving down the line are sorted into one of three stackers, which is designated by the dimensions of the box and their coordinating labels,” says Diehl. “The biggest value of this system is accurately detecting whether the flaps are down or bent with a high degree of reliability. The 3D-Vision System identifies and sorts with a 99.9% accuracy rate, inspecting seven boxes a second. I haven’t seen a faster system more capable of handling this process.”

Interest from food and beverage packagers

Diehl says customers in the food and beverage packaging industry are especially interested in the latest automation technologies. More production managers, directors of quality and other packaging leaders want to eliminate manual intervention of sorting and stacking boxes.

  “Once we prototyped and demonstrated the effectiveness of the 3D-Vision System, our customer recognized that his previous development teams had not provided a solid assessment of how to improve his operations,” says Diehl. “Our customer didn’t know the imaging and scanning technologies existed. Now he is spending money for a much higher degree of reliability and certainty by automating to the fullest extent possible.”

The demand for innovative technology is expanding among industry end-users and control system integrators are responding with measured results. Our CSIA members, like Ed Diehl and the Concept Systems team, are designing and implementing solutions to help customers increase production, reduce cost, use less energy and minimize their environmental impact. To find a qualified control system integrator or learn more about the Control System Integrator Association (CSIA), visit www.controlsys.org.

Bob Lowe is the executive director of the Control System Integrator Association (CSIA), a global non-profit professional association for control system integration companies to advance system integration for the success of members and their clients. Prior to becoming CSIA executive director, Bob spent 19 years in plant automation focusing on the metals industry. He co-founded a control systems integration company where he was president and managed the technical staff. A founding member of CSIA, Lowe has served on the Best Practices and Benchmarks committee and was instrumental in designing the initial audit for CSIA Certification.