Breakthrough at the Detection of Embossed Bottles

Typical situation in empties

Typical situation in empties

The growing variety of individual returnable bottles made of transparent materials results in a considerable increase of the efforts necessary for the detection and sorting of returnables. Modern logistic concepts are based on a gradual sorting of bottle parties up to one hundred percent of one sort. These concepts require an early identification of single bottles in the crate. Up to now, by means of some detected basic characteristic features such as bottle height, diameter, color or label, an allocation had been made to groups hardly distinguishable. Now, SYSCONA achieved the breakthrough by using newly developed optics and classification software. On the basis of individual bottle criteria such as embossings or code marks, the individual bottles can be already differentiated in the empties. By the first realization installed at the Krombacher Brauerei, the advantages of the exact bottle identification became obvious in the day-to-day operation.

If the bottles differentiate in the main (only) by an embossing on the outer area of the neck or shoulder such an embossing must be detected exactly and reliably to realize a real bottle identification. In a crate the possible angle of view on the bottles is limited.

SYSCONA lens block for bottle embossing detection in the crate

SYSCONA lens block for bottle embossing detection in the crate

To get past this added difficulty, SYSCONA uses so-called hyper-telecentric lenses – one per lengthwise bottle row. By means of these specially designed lenses, exactly at the moment of the concentric position of each bottle under the lens, even embossings at the vertical bottle neck can be fully detected and analyzed. Another special feature of the SYSCONA solution that is prepared for the issue of a patent, is the ultra compact LED high-power illumination that is positioned centrically before the lens. By means of this illumination component, a high light transmission through the transparent material of the bottle can be realized so that embossing-like markings appear exceptionally rich in contrast.

By means of a specially designed trigger solution, an image of each optimum centered bottle is taken. This makes it possible to use extremely quick image analysis tools by which a direct embossing or marking detection can be made. During the optic expands the view, the newly developed software analyses the “multidimensional” image information and classifies image structures. The embossing is, as it were, “read” and reliably classed to a specific bottle type. Even effects of disturbance or not completely detected markings are not detrimental to this.

Image of an embossing on a white glass bottle with SYSCONA illumination concept.

Image of an embossing on a white glass bottle with SYSCONA illumination concept.

In spite of the great number of disturbing influences occurring everyday in empties, detection accuracies, completely verifiable, of more than 98% are reached shortly after the commissioning at the Krombacher Brauerei. The line speed there is about 3.000 cph, short crate side leading. By the use of software capable of learning, this value can be increased in short time so that now for every kind of this sorting tasks there is a new perspective of classification and logistic transport of empties. The real detection accuracies of detection technics existing so far were considerably below this value or those were not capable to differentiate between a large number of individual bottle types. With high reliability, this differentiation is now possible, too, with regard to bottles in crates. By this, modern gradual sorting concepts based on the differentiation of bottles inside the crate are effectively supported or have become possible only now.

 Image processing steps of the SYSCONA embossing detection Image processing steps of the SYSCONA embossing detection

Bildverarbeitungsstufen der SYSCONA – Relieferkennung I

The solution developed by SYSCONA offers still other, additional possibilities of adaptation by which the image recording can be adjusted “online” to different bottle criteria and surrounding conditions. By means of programmable system configuration or on the basis of sensor information, light sources can be triggered in the way that, for example, bottles of different colors provide optimal images. Be it brown, green or white glass bottles, by means of the additional connection of different illumination units or individual triggering of LED matrix sectors or LED groups of different color emission, the SYSCONA inspection system provides always the best image quality and, by this, highest identification reliability.

The presented technology represents indeed a breakthrough for the empties sorting technics and opens doors for the creative designing of individual bottles that have been closed by the limits of the detection technology so far.