Orbis' machine vision system for the food industry, Imprint Verifier, inspects both markings and package qualities.

At the core of Imprint Verifier is the In-Sight vision system, a smart camera by the world leading machine vision system manufacturer Cognex. Source: Orbis

Fazer Confectionery Ltd.'s confectionery factory in Vantaa, Finland, produces millions of kilos of chocolate every year. After moulding, confections and smaller and larger chocolate bars are taken on automated lines through the storage to wrapping and then back to the storage. Products are conveyed for wrapping in grey crates; over 23.000 of them are circulating in the system. Even though the crates are washed after use, some chocolate stains may persist. Washed crates used to be inspected with a camera that, when detecting a stained crate, returned the entire pallet back to the wash. With the new Imprint Verifier, stained crates can be singled out from the line, and only stained crates are taken back to the wash.

"The number of crates returning to wash has reduced significantly. We wash roughly 10% of what we used to, now that we have been able to eliminate unnecessary washing," says Production Manager Eino Määttä from Fazer Confectionery Ltd. Fazer has welcomed the benefits of the new system. Washing is now much more efficient and the saved time can be allocated to other tasks. Unnecessary washing was an environmental load. Targeted wash with less chemicals is also financially smarter.

Imprint Verifier inspects packages in an environmentally sustainable way and also reduces the number of customer complaints. Source: Orbis

Traditional Chocolate Bar Brands Travel through Modern Production Line

In addition to washing and storage, Määttä is also supervising wrapping at Fazer Confectionery Ltd. "The Pätkis bar is a challenging product to wrap because of its round shape," Määttä explains. "Challenges occur with other bars too, like JIM, DaCapo and so on," he continues. The roundly shaped Pätkis bar is prone to falling over on the line, in which case it ends up between the seaming chisels in the Flowpack packaging machine. As the result, the package is either left open or some chocolate gets caught in the seam.

Fazer does not want to release badly wrapped products and receive customer complaints, so quality control of wrapping is essential. In a fast line with around 320 bars per minute, a human eye is not sharp enough to spot faulty seams.

The production volume demands certain investments, therefore the chocolate bar line is now watched over by an automatic eye: Orbis Imprint Verifier. The system images each wrapped bar against a back light. Each image is then measured, and excessive thickness of the wrapper ends reveals faulty seams. "The greatest challenge has been adjusting the communications between the Imprint I/O and the mechanical conveyor to the high line speed," says Jari Koskinen, Account Manager at Orbis.

Fazer Confectionery has several applications for machine vision, but thanks to the flexible software and accurate lighting design, all of them can be realized with a single system. Moreover, Imprint Verifier configuration is developing continuously. The latest improvement is embedding the touch screen into the door of the casing that protects the electronic components, which enhances usability substantially at the production line.

Orbis Oy
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