Versatile sensors multitask in German brewery

Wednesday, 22 April, 2015 | Supplied by: Balluff Pty Ltd

Versatile sensors multitask in German brewery

The Warsteiner Group is one of the leading private brewers in Germany, a family-run business that includes 120 companies worldwide. At the heart of the group is Warsteiner Brauerei Haus Cramer, founded in 1753 in Warstein, western Germany. Here, up to 4000 pallets are moved and 200 trucks dispatched every day.

When selecting sensors for the various inspection tasks within the busy facility, Warsteiner was attracted by the versatility of the BVS-E vision sensors from Balluff. The brewery now uses the sensors after the filling process during a 100% inspection for the presence of labels on kegs, the proper text on bottle labels as well as the quality of six-pack cluster packages.

Checking markings at a high pace

On the bottling lines for 0.5 L bottles, the vision sensor is used to inspect each bottle with the ‘edge counting’ tool, to ensure the best-before date is present.

As many as 55,000 bottles pass through the system every hour, leaving a processing time of 25 ms per inspection at 16 bottles/s. If an error occurs, such as the marking is missing on the label, the sensor outputs a signal. When the faulty bottle reaches a pusher, it is separated from the other bottles and ejected.

The sensor and light are integrated in a sealed V2A installation housing with AR-coated glass pane, which facilitates simple cleaning of the system with a large amount of water and detergents.

Presence monitoring using DataMatrix code

The sensor is also used in the labelling systems for 30 and 50 L re-usable stainless steel kegs. It checks for the presence of labels which provide information about the beer type, filling date, best-by date, batch number and lot size. The sensor reads a 2D-Matrix code which is printed on the label, facilitating a fast detection process during the filling of 1000 kegs/h.

The vision sensor reads the DataMatrix code, thereby checking the presence of the label.

On the labelling line, as soon as a sensor reports the presence of a keg, a label is printed and affixed to the protective cap on the keg. Kegs that do not have a label are immediately rejected.

Packaging inspections made easy

After filling, groups of six bottles are clustered together to form a six-pack. The cardboard packaging consists of a carton, which is automatically pushed over the bottles from above, and three cardboard tabs, which are interlocked below the bottles to form a secure package. Warsteiner uses a Balluff vision sensor here to inspect the tight fit of all interlocks on the bottom of the package. If even one of the interlocks is defective, the six-pack is rejected. The sensor is triggered by the edges of the six-packs as soon as they are detected by fibre-optic cables.

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