3 Benefits of An Automated Packaging Defect Detection System
Technological advancements in engineering and software capabilities have opened realms of new possibilities for applications of automated processes within virtually all industries. One of these industries is the food processing and packaging industry where automation has been a cornerstone for decades. In food processing and packaging, some form of task automation is utilized in almost every stage of the process.
Prior to the end of the production line, the items must be packaged before they can be shipped out to their final destination. However, after being packaged, these items must be inspected to identify any problems and assess if they are acceptable for shipping or not. This step is referred to as quality control.
Depending on the organization and types of product being processed, the quality control process can be automated or done manually by employees.
This post explores 3 benefits of an automated defect detection system for your organization’s product quality control process.
- Reduced Human Labor Costs
- Increased Operational Efficiency
- Automated Product Rejection or Error Flagging When Human Intervention Is Needed
1. Reduced Human Labor Costs During the Quality Control Stage
As any organization scales, so does their expenditure on human labor needed to perform the tasks required for successful operation of the quality assurance process. Quality assurance during the final stages of the packaging line requires certain conditions of the final packaging be met before they can be approved for storage and transportation to their final destination. This criteria depends on the product being packaged, but can include product conditions that must be met such as product / label orientation, fill level, sealing, product orientation, label and barcode verification.
However, due to the volume of items being processed every hour, paying employees for quality control becomes a costly expense. As a business grows, it needs more and more individuals to verify and perform quality control on these items to produce a scalable output. Therefore, an automated system allows the organization to process a much larger volume of items in the same time period when compared to that of a single individual.
This allows organizations to scale effectively as the bulk of the work can be taken over by powerful hardware and software, yet can still be aided by human intervention as needed.
As the organization scales, the cost of the initial investment will be paid off by the labor cost savings needed to do the equivalent job. Ultimately, a defect detection system can save an organization millions in lifetime labor costs.
2. Increased Operational Efficiency
One of the driving forces behind any technological advancement is the goal of decreasing human effort, while increasing overall operational efficiency. This is especially true for automated systems within complex industries with lots of moving parts such as food packaging and processing.
An automated defect detection system can increase the operational efficiency of your quality assurance process by significantly increasing the volume of items that can be scanned per day. A vision based system using a camera captures 60 frames per second and analyzes them using pre-programmed algorithms which identify key markers on the packaging. It compares these markers to predefined criteria programmed into the software depending on the organizations’ needs and assigns it a passing or fail grade.
When compared to the speed it would take a human to verify each individual item passing through the line, it’s easy to see how a computer based systems’ speed far exceeds that of a manual process. Over time, as the operation scales this leads to increases in operational efficiency as the cost per inspected item decreases.
3. Automated Item Rejection or Error Flagging Allow for Human Intervention As Needed
Automated systems are great for defect detection, verification and error flagging but they must also be programmed to respond to an error. Therefore, organizations have two options: an automated rejection system or human intervention by a site or floor supervisor to ensure optimal performance of the entire operation.
For large volume items such as those within the food and consumer goods industry, an automated rejection system can minimize potential downtime when a defected item is discovered. With an automated rejection system, once the camera identifies a product with a failing grade, a secondary arm or piston may simply eject the item from the line and place it into a reject pile. Using this method, all the failed products are easily removed with minimal disruption to the processing line.
For more complex products such as technology components and pharmaceuticals that require an in depth analysis of the issue before proceeding a different approach is required. For products such as these, the defect detection system flags, and sends error notifications directly to the site supervisor for human intervention. This ensures that complex products are not wasted, and the discovered problem is fixed right away.
Optimal performance of the processing and packaging line requires that automation aids human efforts by doing what humans can’t, and getting help where the software and hardware face limitations.
Ultimately, any organization can benefit from having an automated defect detection system within their quality control process. The initial investment into the hardware and software are paid off by the savings in human labour costs. An automated system allows an organization to scale by increasing the efficiency and accuracy of defect detection. And the programmable nature of the software allows you to assign the level of intervention, from an automated rejection system to an automated notification flagging system.
Want to see if Alooki can help your organization set up an automated defect detection system? Contact us today to see how we can help!
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