Scorpion Vision’s 3D system helps confectionery manufacturers and packers increase line efficiency

Scorpion Vision has developed a 3D stereo vision based inspection solution that ensures perfect presentation for chocolate gifting trays.

The machine vision automation company said that its system, which performs with near 100% accuracy, helps confectionery manufacturers and packers to combat unskilled labour shortages, whilst increasing line efficiency.

This system deploys the Scorpion 3D Venom camera to inspect chocolates that have been deposited in compartmentalised trays by pick and place robots. Occasionally, after being placed, chocolates will bounce up and either turn upside down or jump out of the tray altogether.

Scorpion has engineered an advanced vision solution that images the chocolates in 3D and takes precision shape measurements to confirm that each chocolate is in the right compartment and position. At the heart of the solution is the global shutter Scorpion 3D Venom camera, designed for applications in 3D stereo vision systems owing to its short baseline.

Paul Wilson, managing director at Scorpion Vision said that the shorter the baseline, the more accurate the stereo or ‘z’ depth – a camera trait that is essential for reliable decision making in this application.

“The system requires several data sets to determine, with high accuracy, whether the right chocolate is in the right position,” he added. “As well as generating a 3D profile, it relies on precise dimensional measurements, 2D imaging and colour imaging to build a complete and detailed picture. With this data combination, it can even analyse the texture of each chocolate to determine whether they are correctly placed. If a chocolate is upside down, for example, the vision system recognises that the texture or pattern on that chocolate is different to the reference.”

Without this system, Scorpion Vision said factories usually have to build an inline buffer system into their process and deploy manual labour to perform quality checks of chocolate trays. This arrangement generally requires at least two people who have to move quickly to reseat chocolates as they pass down the line. With an automated inspection system, any packages are diverted off the line so they can be reworked offline. This eliminates bottlenecks and back-ups, and, most importantly, guarantees perfect tray presentation.

This solution was originally engineered with chocolate manufacturing in mind but could just as easily be applied on any production line where compartmentalised presentation trays are used – from cup cakes, patisserie items and pastries to biscuit selections. It is also possible to overlay this solution with AI (artificial intelligence) for enhanced performance and reliability.

“We create a profile of the product in 3D and analyse it for certain reference features. We then use AI to enhance extraction of these features – essentially training the vision system to identify and locate anomalies. The application of AI makes texture and pattern verification easier to do and even more reliable than with the use of 3D vision alone,” said Paul Wilson.

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