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Thermal imaging & vision systems


Hyperspectral


imaging


The stuff of science coming to an automated food line near you V


ision can be deployed in a number of different ways on a food processing line to tell if


food is safe to eat and meets the quality standards demanded by retailers. Now the kind of hyperspectral technology that NASA has used to study planets and plant life is being applied to the food that ends up on household plates. For UK-based automation specialist


Brillopak, the emergence of more affordable hyperspectral imaging is enabling food packing plants to leverage sci-fi kit and apply to daily operations. In addition to offering a critical quality control advantage, it helps packhouses previously reliant on EU migrant workers and experiencing staffing pressures to now automate their quality inspection process. Historically, quality assurance in


This imaging system will spot minor blemishes, such as a small bruise on an apple.


52


packhouses relied extensively on human intervention - someone scanning conveyors as packs headed


towards the case loading operation and spotting and removing defective or damaged product. However, there are obvious limitations to visual screening. Most notably, the human eye lacks Superman’s x-ray powers, while conventional cameras only see what is in the visible light spectrum. Workforce fatigue and human


error has meant that on super-fast packing lines, even visible defects, such as bruising and blemishes, can pass even the most observant human inspectors by. Today’s hyperspectral vision systems are programmed to have a level of impartiality that human eyes just do not have. With many end-of-line packing


stations now automated and processing in excess of 100 packs of produce a minute, incorporating vision is becoming increasingly commonplace. To help minimise the risk of an ‘out-of-spec’ product heading out of the warehouse doors


April 2021 Instrumentation Monthly


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