WMH has developed an automated packing system with machine vision capable of processing 96,000 bacon rashers per hour. The system harnesses the power of 16 machine vision inspection systems to increase quality and reduce production costs for large scale food producers who need to pack product by item count rather than weight.
WMH spent many months developing trial units to test and perfect the operation of the various elements before commencing design and build of the final working system. WMH built two 8-lane systems, producing up to 800 cooked streaky bacon rashers per minute, to take individual bacon rashers from chiller; through a vision system, into a multi-tier vertical collation system and out into plastic trays.
Each of the 16 lanes in the system has its own dedicated PC controlled vision system which enables every rasher to be inspected and monitored to ensure the correct product count is achieved and all the rashers are within the customer’s specification. Any rashers considered to be a reject or not within the specified size are tracked and rejected prior to the collation system.
The collation area allows in-specification rashers to be accumulated until the desired rasher count is achieved. At this point an empty tray is precisely moved into position using a servo motor. The tray is filled before being moved on, via a WMH divert system, to a tray sealer. The divert system ensures filled trays are managed from two systems and feed in a continuous stream into the tray sealer.
The construction was completely modelled in 3D CAD and designed to be hygienic and suitable for a high-risk food environment. The system has also been designed to be easy to strip down for maintenance and cleaning, without the need for any tools.
At the core of the project has been the establishment of robust communication links between the camera, vison system, PLC and encoders; which when all working in sync enable the system to track and count the good rashers into the collation system whilst at the same time tracking and rejecting any of out of specification rashers.
Photograph courtesy of http://www.freefoodphotos.com/