Schubert packaging machines’ modular system extends right through to image processing: Using a pick & place vision system specially developed by Schubert, product quality control can be integrated in a modular fashion into any packaging machine and adapted to customer specifications.
In addition to the accurate detection of products that are randomly fed to a robot line, accurate quality control is extremely important: It reduces waste, cuts costs and increases the efficiency of the entire packaging process. If quality control is also carried out directly in the packaging machine, manufacturers benefit from further advantages: Control is automated, firmly integrated into the packaging process, and uniform quality criteria apply to the products.
As early as in the 1980s, Schubert recognised what optimum image processing should consist of, and for this reason developed its own pick & and place vision system. The decisive difference to the cameras that were also initially used at Schubert was the use of line sensors. They can be lined up next to each other to capture the entire product flow of the goods – close to the product and without parallaxes. With this ground-breaking idea, the Schubert experts succeeded in bringing about a paradigm shift that heralded the universal Schubert scanner technology. True to the proven Schubert principles of modularity and flexibility, Schubert’s special vision system is also built around this principle: The scanners are configured according to specific requirements and are adapted exactly to the production conditions in each packaging machine, especially the width of the product belt. The software for the pick & place vision system is also modular: Schubert’s image processing library contains various program modules which can be individualised according to the task at hand and customer-specific requirements. Based on product specifications, the image processing parameters are then determined, which ensure reliable product recognition coupled with high quality control. If a format change needs to be carried out in the packaging machine, the parameters in the vision system also change as required.
Schubert scanners are an integral part of the pick & place packaging machines: They enable the robots to “see” by always knowing exactly where each product is located and in what quality it was produced. Only those products that meet the quality criteria according to the specifications are packaged. For example, burnt or incomplete biscuits can be sorted out. Products that are too thick or too thin are also detected and sorted out.
Applications which, for example, require the use of cameras due to design or process conditions, such as reading characters, checking codes, labels and the like, are covered by the Schubert’s camera-based vision systems. The so-called “reach into the box” is also implemented with cameras: From a disordered stack of products, a robot retrieves individual products one after the other, the upper most ones first. After each retrieval, the product arrangement in the stack changes, as the products lying on top of each other and touching each other shift. Before the robot picks up the product again, the pick & place vision system must be able to take another 3D image of the entire scene, i.e. the new stacking constellation, generate a point cloud and precisely calculate the position of the next best product to be picked. For this purpose, several cameras and light pattern projectors are positioned at different viewing angles. The combination of their images results in a three-dimensional image of the products in the stack, from which the pick & place robot can pick up the next, best possible product. In contrast to the pick & place machines and packing lines, the vision system and the robots here inevitably use the same work area.
The wide range of possible applications and the precise adaptation of image processing to the requirements of packaging processes make Schubert’s vision system an exceptionally high-quality technology: It guides the robots precisely to safe and gentle product pick-up, gives the packaging robots a high degree of flexibility in handling a wide range of product assortments, and last but not least, it ensures reliable quality control, enabling manufacturers to increase their product quality in an extremely efficient manner.