Download PDF version Contact company

Strong price pressure combined with high-quality requirements - the beverage and bottle industry faces the classic dilemma of many industries. This is also the case in the quality control department of a French manufacturer of plastic caps. Reliably detecting cracks and micro-cracks on plastic caps in 40 different colours and shades running at high speed on a production line is a real challenge.

APREX Solutions from Nancy, France has successfully achieved this goal with the help of image processing technology and artificial intelligence. The basic images are provided by a USB 3 industrial camera from IDS Imaging Development Systems GmbH.

System inspection

SOLOCAP is a subsidiary of La Maison Mélan Moutet, "flavour conditioner since 1880" and manufactures all types of plastic caps for the food sector at its industrial site in Contrexéville. Among them, a top-class screw cap suitable for any glass or PET bottle. The presence of a clampable lamella ring arranged around the bottle collar enables a simple, fast, absolutely tight, and secure seal. However, the slats must be reliably and extremely carefully checked for cracks, tears, and twists during production. This is the only way to guarantee absolute tightness.

The previous inspection system could not meet these high requirements. APREX Solutions realised the new solution with artificial intelligence individually on the basis of in-house software algorithms. The necessary specifications were developed in advance in cooperation with the customer. This also included several inspection stages, one of which, for example, was the reject control to avoid false reports.

Implementing of AI solution

Four control levels with several test points guarantee a reliability rate of over 99.99%

The introduction took place in two phases: First, the specific "SOLOCAP application" was trained with the help of the intelligent APREX Track AI solution. The software includes various object detectors, classifiers, and standard methods that operate at different levels. Networked accordingly, they ultimately deliver the desired result tailored to the customer. Four control levels with several test points guarantee a reliability rate of over 99.99%.

In the second step, this application was implemented in the production line right after the first assembly run with APREX Track C&M. The latter was specially developed for the diverse image processing requirements in the industrial sector. This includes, among other things, the control and safeguarding of a production line up to the measurement, identification, and classification of defects in the production environment. The software suite delivers the desired results quickly and efficiently, without time-consuming development processes.

Ready to use

After a short training of the AI methods, the complete system is ready for use at the customer. In the case of SOLOCAP, it combines an IDS UI-3280CP-C-HQ industrial camera, powerful ring illumination, and a programmable logic controller (PLC) to provide comprehensive control over all inspection processes.

At the same time, it records all workflows in real-time and ensures complete traceability. Only one camera is needed for this. However, APREX TRACK C&M could handle up to 5 cameras.

High-resolution images

The difficulty of this project consisted mainly in the very subtle expression of the defects we were looking for and in the multitude of colours. With our software suite, it was possible to quickly set up an image processing application. Despite the complexity," explains Romain Baude - founder of APREX Solutions.

The image from the camera provides the basis for the evaluations. It captures every single cap directly in the production line at high speed and makes the smallest details visible to the software.

Easy integration of camera  

The USB 3 industrial camera provides excellent image quality with extraordinarily low noise performance

The UI-3280CP-C-HQ industrial camera integrated into the system with the 5 MP IMX264 CMOS sensor from Sony sets new standards in terms of light sensitivity, dynamic range, and colour reproduction. The USB 3 industrial camera provides excellent image quality with extraordinarily low-noise performance - at frame rates up to 36 fps.

CP stands for "Compact Power". This is because the tiny powerhouse for industrial applications of all kinds is fast, reliable, and enables a high data rate of 420 MByte/s with low CPU load. Users can choose from a large number of modern CMOS sensors from manufacturers such as Sony, CMOSIS, e2v, and ON Semiconductor with a wide range of resolutions.

Plug and play

Its innovative, patented housing design with dimensions of only 29 x 29 x 29 millimetres makes it suitable for tasks in the fields of automation, automotive, medical technology and life sciences, agriculture, logistics as well as traffic and transport, among others. Screwable cables ensure a reliable electrical connection.

Due to the IDS-characteristic plug & play principle, the cameras are automatically recognised by the system and are immediately ready for use, as Romain Baude confirms, "The excellent colour reproduction of the UI-3280CP-C-HQ and its high resolution of 5 MP were decisive factors for us in choosing the camera. At the same time, the model enabled a quick, uncomplicated integration into our system."

Outlook

Anthony Vastel - Head of Technology and Industry at SOLOCAP - sees a lot of potential in the new inspection system, "APREX's AI-based approach has opened new doors for our 100% vision-based quality control. Our requirements for product safety, but also for reject control, especially in the case of false reports, were quickly met. We are convinced that we can go one step further by continuing to increase the efficiency of the system at SOLOCAP and transferring it to other production lines."

AI offers quality assurance, but also all other industries in which image processing technology is used, new, undreamed-of fields of application. It makes it possible to solve tasks in which classic, rule-based image processing reaches its limits. Thus, high-quality results can be achieved with comparatively little effort - quickly, creatively, and efficiently. APREX Solutions and IDS have recognised this and offer solutions with intelligent products that make it easier for customers to enter this new world.

Share with LinkedIn Share with Twitter Share with Facebook Share with Facebook
Download PDF version Download PDF version

In case you missed it

Panasonic AI-driven cameras empower an expanding vision of new uses
Panasonic AI-driven cameras empower an expanding vision of new uses

Imagine a world where video cameras are not just watching and reporting for security, but have an even wider positive impact on our lives. Imagine that cameras control street and building lights, as people come and go, that traffic jams are predicted and vehicles are automatically rerouted, and more tills are opened, just before a queue starts to form. Cameras with AI capabilities Cameras in stores can show us how we might look in the latest outfit as we browse. That’s the vision from Panasonic about current and future uses for their cameras that provide artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities at the edge. Panasonic feels that these types of intelligent camera applications are also the basis for automation and introduction of Industry 4.0, in which processes are automated, monitored and controlled by AI-driven systems. 4K network security cameras The company’s i-PRO AI-capable camera line can install and run up to three AI-driven video analytic applications Panasonic’s 4K network security cameras have built-in AI capabilities suitable for this next generation of intelligent applications in business and society. The company’s i-PRO AI-capable camera line can install and run up to three AI-driven video analytic applications. The AI engine is directly embedded into the camera, thus reducing costs and Panasonic’s image quality ensures the accuracy of the analytics outcome. FacePRO facial recognition technology Panasonic began advancing AI technology on the server side with FacePRO, the in-house facial recognition application, which uses AI deep learning capabilities. Moving ahead, they transitioned their knowledge of AI from the server side to the edge, introducing i-PRO security cameras with built-in AI capabilities last summer, alongside their own in-house analytics. Moreover, in line with the Panasonic approach to focus more on collaboration with specialist AI software developers, a partnership with Italian software company, A.I. Tech followed in September, with a range of intelligent applications, partially based on deep learning. Additional collaborations are already in place with more than 10 other developers, across the European Union, working on more future applications. i-PRO AI-capable security cameras Open systems are an important part of Panasonic’s current approach. The company’s i-PRO AI-capable cameras are an open platform and designed for third-party application development, therefore, applications can be built or tailored to the needs of an individual customer. Panasonic use to be a company that developed everything in-house, including all the analytics and applications. “However, now we have turned around our strategy by making our i-PRO security cameras open to integrate applications and analytics from third-party companies,” says Gerard Figols, Head of Security Solutions at Panasonic Business Europe. Flexible and adapting to specific customer needs This new approach allows the company to be more flexible and adaptable to customers’ needs. “At the same time, we can be quicker and much more tailored to the market trend,” said Gerard Figols. He adds, “For example, in the retail space, enabling retailers to enhance the customer experience, in smart cities for traffic monitoring and smart parking, and by event organisers and transport hubs to monitor and ensure safety.” Edge-based analytics offer multiple benefits over server-based systems Edge-based analytics Edge-based analytics offer multiple benefits over server-based systems. On one hand, there are monetary benefits - a cost reduction results from the decreased amount of more powerful hardware required on the server side to process the data, on top of reduction in the infrastructure costs, as not all the full video stream needs to be sent for analysis, we can work solely with the metadata. On the other hand, there are also advantages of flexibility, as well as reliability. Each camera can have its own individual analytic setup and in case of any issue on the communication or server side, the camera can keep running the analysis at the edge, thereby making sure the CCTV system is still fully operational. Most importantly, systems can keep the same high level of accuracy. Explosion of AI camera applications We can compare the explosion of AI camera applications to the way we experienced it for smartphone applications" “We can compare the explosion of AI camera applications to the way we experienced it for smartphone applications,” said Gerard Figols, adding “However, it doesn’t mean the hardware is not important anymore, as I believe it’s more important than ever. Working with poor picture quality or if the hardware is not reliable, and works 24/7, software cannot run or deliver the outcome it has been designed for.” As hardware specialists, Figols believes that Panasonic seeks to focus on what they do best - Building long-lasting, open network cameras, which are capable of capturing the highest quality images that are required for the latest AI applications, while software developers can concentrate on bringing specialist applications to the market. Same as for smartphones, AI applications will proliferate based on market demand and succeed or fail, based on the value that they deliver. Facial recognition, privacy protection and cross line technologies Panasonic has been in the forefront in developing essential AI applications for CCTV, such as facial recognition, privacy protection and cross line. However, with the market developing so rapidly and the potential applications of AI-driven camera systems being so varied and widespread, Panasonic quickly realised that the future of their network cameras was going to be in open systems, which allow specialist developers and their customers to use their sector expertise to develop their own applications for specific vertical market applications, while using i-PRO hardware. Metadata for detection and recognition Regarding privacy, consider that the use of AI in cameras is about generating metadata for the detection and recognition of patterns, rather than identifying individual identities. “However, there are legitimate privacy concerns, but I firmly believe that attitudes will change quickly when people see the incredible benefits that this technology can deliver,” said Gerard Figols, adding “I hope that we will be able to redefine our view of cameras and AI, not just as insurance, but as life advancing and enhancing.” i-PRO AI Privacy Guard One of the AI applications that Panasonic developed was i-PRO AI Privacy Guard Seeking to understand and appreciate privacy concerns, one of the AI applications that Panasonic developed was i-PRO AI Privacy Guard that generates data without capturing individual identities, following European privacy regulations that are among the strictest in the world. Gerard Fogils said, “The combination of artificial intelligence and the latest generation open camera technology will change the world’s perceptions from Big Brother to Big Benefits. New applications will emerge as the existing generation of cameras is updated to the new open and intelligent next generation devices, and the existing role of the security camera will also continue.” Future scope of AI and cameras He adds, “Not just relying on the security cameras for evidence when things have gone wrong, end users will increasingly be able to use AI and the cameras with much higher accuracy to prevent false alarms and in a proactive way to prevent incidents." Gerard Fogils concludes, “That could be monitoring and alerting when health and safety guidelines are being breached or spotting and flagging patterns of suspicious behaviour before incidents occur.”

What is the best lesson you ever learned from an end user?
What is the best lesson you ever learned from an end user?

Serving customer needs is the goal of most commerce in the physical security market. Understanding those needs requires communication and nuance, and there are sometimes surprises along the way. But in every surprising revelation – and in every customer interaction – there is opportunity to learn something valuable that can help to serve the next customer’s needs more effectively. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: what was the best lesson you ever learned from a security end user customer?

What is the impact of remote working on security?
What is the impact of remote working on security?

During the coronavirus lockdown, employees worked from home in record numbers. But the growing trend came with a new set of security challenges. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What is the impact of the transition to remote working/home offices on the security market?