Packaging: Check the can, test the bottle
July 15, 2009
Cans and bottles travel through the beverage manufacturing process at such high speeds that the possibility of a dent or leak in the package is bound to happen. Inspection equipment is used to ensure the integrity of the package, and that the beverage itself is not filled too high or too low.
Teledyne TapTone, North Falmouth, Mass., produces automatic inspection equipment to detect problems with packages. The TapTone 1000 is capable of examining plastic, metal and glass containers for leaks, fill level, physical defects, pressure and vacuum. TapTone 1000 uses acoustic, proximity, X-ray and laser technologies to conduct inspections.
Acoustic technology measures pressure or vacuum in containers that do not have a measurable lid deflection, such as a beer bottle. The cap or crown on the container is used as a diaphragm to create an acoustic signal, and through analysis, the internal pressure of the package can be determined, says Jim Kearbey, vice president of sales and marketing at Teledyne TapTone.
Pressure or vacuum on containers with pop-button lids is measured with proximity technology. The proximity sensor produces a continuous magnetic field that monitors the distance to the lid and produces a proportional analog voltage, the company says. X-ray technology measures the fill level, and laser technology works similarly to the proximity technology by measuring pressure in plastic, foil and paper containers.
Teledyne TapTone also offers the TapTone T4000 Compression and TapTone 4000-F. TapTone T4000 Compression can detect pin-hole leaks in plastic containers and tubes. The system can inspect up to 1,200 containers per minute and find leaks as small as 0.51 mm. When used with the optional sensors, the system also can perform fill-level, cap and label inspections.
The TapTone 4000-Force inspects the pressure of LN2 (liquid nitrogen gas) dosed and carbonated beverage containers. It can measure up to 1,500 containers a minute, with pressure up to 45 psi.
Measuring the pressure of a bottle or can is an important part of the inspection process, Kearbey says. “If the bottles don’t have internal pressure and are put into a vending machine, they can become egg shaped and jam the vending machine,” he says. “As the industry continues to lightweight the bottles, it uses the liquid nitrogen gas to put a very low pressure of gas inside the container to stabilize the sidewall and create the column strength for stacking.”
With flexibility in mind, TapTone launched TapTone 4000-DSC, which is designed to inspect flexible plastic containers for micro-leaks. As containers pass through the system, the dual parallel belt applies force to the sidewall of the product. This action compresses the headspace of the container, which allows a comparative measurement to be taken at both the infeed and discharge of the system, the company says.
All about the can
CMC-Kuhnke, Albany, N.Y., manufactures a range of manual, semi-automated and fully automated inspection equipment, such as the VSM 5 and MARS-SEAM 3. The equipment can be used on beverage cans, steel cans, aerosol cans and composite cans.
“These represent the two very opposite ends of the spectrum of our product line, and we have other equipment in between,” says Bryan Hall, U.S. sales manager for CMC-Kuhnke. “MARS-SEAM 3 is fully automatic and VSM 5 is the entry-level type system.”
VSM 5 measures double seams of cans by using auto SEAMview software. The software is installed on a micro-laptop connected to the company’s VSI-5000 series imagers. VSM 5 uses a high-resolution camera, pre-configured auto SEAMview Software for automatic double seam measurement, and a Windows XP-equipped micro-laptop with an 8.5-inch monitor.
“With the VSM 5, there is an autodraw technology,” Hall says. “You get the seam into focus, press a button and all four or five parameters are measured. It’s much quicker and much more accurate. Your images are saved digitally, so you have the option if you wanted to take that file and share it with someone.”
Another benefit of the VSM 5 is that it is relatively inexpensive, Hall says.
“The biggest benefit this system will have for the industry is it will allow some of those companies that haven’t been able to afford to get into improved accuracy … it gives them a system they can afford,” he says.
CMC-Kuhnke also offers lease options to some companies so they can lease some of the equipment or lease to buy.
For fully automated can inspection, CMC-Kuhnke manufactures the MARS-SEAM 3, the third in the MARS-SEAM series. MARS-SEAM 3 measures not only for multiple body diameters and multiple heights, but also multiple end diameters.
The MARS-SEAM 3 takes automatic measurements of seam thickness, countersink depth, seam length, body and end hook, overlap, seam gap and body hook butting percentage.
The system consists of three stations linked by a pick-and-place system. It is driven by a PLC and integrates with a PC workstation using the SEAMscan database software, the company says. Operators can load the cans manually on the system or they can be conveyed from the canning line.
Station One is the Triple Seam Gauge, which measures the external double seam dimensions at up to 50 locations around the can. The measurements are sent to SEAMscan, and the pick-and-place system transfers the can to Station Two, the Purge Station. At this station, the can is held in place as a punch opens the can from the bottom, which preserves the double seam and empties the product inside. Station Three is Saw and Capture where a Seam Saw is used to cross-section the cans and a Video Seam Imager magnifies and measures internal seam dimensions. All stations are able to operate and send data simultaneously, and the result is a cycle time of less than one minute per can, the company says.
“The MARS-SEAM system takes the same procedures, the same types of measurements and puts them into a handling system, which takes the can from one station to the next,” Hall says. “Instead of having a person manually place the can into the station, it does it automatically. It goes from a 35 to 45 minute procedure for one person to less than a minute. All they have to do is put the cans into the machine, start the inspection and walk away.”
Applied Vision Corp., Akron, Ohio, supplies equipment to inspect multiple aspects of glass, metal/aluminum beverage and food containers. The two inspection equipment systems Applied Vision provides are Genius Vision Systems and KromaKing Color Vision Systems.
The Genius Vision System performs inspections on high-speed lines, automatically identifying and rejecting defects, the company says. The Genius Inside Can Inspection System and Genius Bottle Can Inspection System specifically inspect metal and aluminum bottles and cans.
Genius Inside Can Inspection System uses a Horizon single-camera and Genius two-camera system, which incorporate algorithms, digital megapixel technology and illumination. The Horizon single-camera system works best on 16-ounce sizes and smaller, and the Genius system is recommended for larger than 16 ounces.
“Our camera systems inspect every can at production speeds for the integrity of the can and the safety of the end user,” says Bud Patel, vice president of sales at Applied Vision. “And then we provide important process data that helps pinpoint the upstream manufacturing component causing the defect and alert line maintenance personnel to it.”
The Genius Bottle Can Inspection System is designed to inspect the neck and cap-seal area of crown-cap type aluminum bottle cans. The system inspects containers at production line speeds for splits and deformities, as well as wall damage and malformation. In addition, features include a digital four-camera configuration, custom-designed LED lighting, optics and preprogrammed user interface.
The KromaKing is a color system that can inspect color on the entire surface of bottles and cans. KromaKing Color Decoration Inspection and Monitoring System automatically inspects the exterior of the can with high-resolution imaging. The system can detect color drift, registration shift, spatial or pattern defects, scumming and localized errors.
KromaKing measures multiple regions of the can in complex patterns to detect colors that have deviated from the specifications. KromaKing Mixed Label Inspection System detects mixed labels on beverage can production lines and eliminates the likelihood of a mixed label occurrence, the company says. The system learns the normal variations and automatically detects label changes. BI