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Bottle Detection with Camera

Ensinger Mineral Heilquellen GmbH uses camera technology from Banner Engineering to identify drink bottles

Powerful image processing solutions can very quickly become complex and expensive. As high-end systems exceed the requirements of many applications, Turck also offers solutions for simple applications from the camera portfolio of its partner Banner Engineering. The reliability and the good price-performance ratio of the Banner system, which detects incorrect bottles with the P3 camera and LED lighting, impressed the drinks manufacturer Ensinger.

  • The P3 camera at Ensinger detects 25,000 bottles an hour

  • Wrong bottles are immediately removed

  • The robust IP67 LED infra-red light is positioned opposite the camera

  • The P3-PPROCAM is positioned with the signal processor in the housing in front of the decapping machine

In the filling plant of drinks manufacturer Ensinger Mineral-Heilquellen GmbH in Vaihingen/Enz-Ensingen, near Stuttgart a camera is used to check whether each bottle on the conveyor is of the correct bottle type. The camera has to monitor 25,000 bottles an hour. Any fault that occurs considerably delays the production.

Previous solution with weaknesses

The camera used at Ensinger up to 2010 had considerable weaknesses since the measuring lines by which they identified the bottles were fixed. The camera focused on a defined range and measured the distance of two light-dark transitions that were characteristic features of the bottle. If the bottles came slightly offset into the viewing range of the camera, it identified it as a wrong bottle even though it had the correct dimensions.

Measuring lines adjusted

Compared to the previous solution, today’s camera solution has considerable benefits. It does not aim rigidly at two points but searches for a defined reference point, adjusts the measuring lines accordingly and then triggers the appropriate image automatically. Besides the trigger signal that the camera receives from the cam switch mechanism of the screw conveyor, the camera is triggered again almost automatically. It measures the bottle diameter using the distance between two light-dark transitions. The two measurements are enough to identify the bottles unambiguously. This also functions if the bottles are positioned slightly offset in the screw conveyor.

The present solution also has another advantage: The Ethernet port of the camera enables Siegfried Winkler to fetch the camera image directly onto his PC. If a fault message occurs, he can check where the problem is from his desk– or at least where it is not. The P3 is not designed for highly complex identification tasks. It is better suited for reliable bottle identification than more complex and more expensive solutions. With a resolution of 640 x 480 pixels and a 1/3 inch CCD sensor, it can detect 256 gray scale values and produce 48 images a second.

The Banner P3 camera is housed in a watertight metal housing which the customer specially manufactured for the application. The LED background lighting that was also supplied by Turck is positioned behind the bottles. The IP67 degree of protection enables the LED infra-red lighting also to be fitted directly in the wet area of the bottle detection. With a lifespan of 50,000 hours, there is now no more risk of poor lighting.

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