Companies in the folding carton industry are dealing with the evolution of quality assurance technology and seeking out new opportunities to keep their clients happy. They’re also feeling the pressure of catching defects and waste before shipping and higher expectations on brand logo quality. Providing quality products for customers, maintaining a competitive production line, and avoiding downtime are some crucial aspects of maintaining relationships with end user customers.

In the past, sensors have been an acceptable way for folding carton manufacturers to inspect for defects and keep basic records of bad boxes for their quality assurance efforts. The problem industry professionals are facing is that sensor inspection is not providing useful “after the fact” data once the initial inspection is completed. Without images from a camera, certain product flaws will go unnoticed and root cause analysis is much more difficult or impossible to investigate. End users are urging folding carton facilities to get vision inspection systems to decrease the number of bad cartons and product defects arriving in their packaging facilities. If the bad product does reach the end user, the folding carton facility is now explaining how they will prevent this issue from occurring in the future. So many folding carton facilities are now faced with the dilemma of integrating a new type of quality assurance system or losing business with their customers.

You may be asking, what would one of these vision systems look like? Is this something viable for my company to investigate?

Vision inspection systems provide image-based inspection automated for your convenience for a variety of industrial and manufacturing applications. So, how do they work?

A typical vision system includes cameras with lenses, a monitor, automated lighting to illuminate visual inspections of the products, an industrial PC that analyzes the images, and a tracking system that follows the box down the machine. These systems can be customized to fit your company’s needs and have more impact on your current production and post-production needs than a traditional sensor system.

ClearVision systems are specialized vision systems for Paperboard applications that both identify and isolate defective products on your production line so that you can eject them before your customer receives them. ClearVision’s Inspection Systems include solutions for color detection, window or insert detection, 1D and 2D barcodes, skew, gap detection, and double-feed monitoring and glue line inspection.

CartonChek software provides product line performance information in real time, and the system comes with many benefits that you would not normally get when using sensor inspection. ClearVision’s CartonChek vision-based system comes with software package options including:

  • CodeChek
  • GlueChek
  • LaserChek
  • WindowChek
  • and BrailleChek

You may be wondering, what exactly are the benefits that vision-based systems provide? How could my operation be upgraded by one? Let’s get into the details:

Vision-based systems offer ease of use for the operator that will encounter the system. This software doesn’t require much training time for either seasoned operators or new hires in your plant, saving you time and labor costs.

When it comes to field of view, a camera offers a larger, 50-60 mm field of view compared to a sensor’s 8-10 mm field of view. A glue pattern that is fired right on the edge of the carrier is still able to be picked up in the image. This can be a difficult challenge when trying to capture a similar image on a sensor-based system. If the sensor is angled at all, it may not read correctly. Cameras can help eliminate this worry and require little to no effort in capturing your image.

Vision systems can also make reporting your data simpler. Sensors typically provide data in the form of a spreadsheet, but that data can often be bothersome to compile into a report. A system like CartonChek can help resolve this issue by presenting the history bar graph right on the screen to facilitate analysis. Defect and performance data for all products gets stored locally in the SQL database (which can even be accessed and watched remotely from anywhere using an internet connection). The best part of this type of data capture and storage is that you can return to a job in a month or year later and review the type of problems you experienced during that production run. This makes post-mortem analysis much more efficient and effective.

After considering the advantages of a vision-based system, you might be wondering why everyone doesn’t try them. The only thing holding most plants back on the purchase is the cost of the system.

Compared to sensor systems, vision systems can sometimes be more expensive. However, the cost can be justified if you think about how cameras ensure fewer defective products make it past the line to the customer while providing a lower total cost of ownership. Let’s look at a side-by-side comparison of a typical sensor and a vision-based system to demonstrate the value of a camera. An AS303 sensor provides a 10 mm field of view for the folding carton industry. The sensor gets bolted onto the valve and provides that line of motion as the carton moves. However, if you have a system with multiple valves, purchasing enough sensors to cover each valve would be expensive. The smallest ClearVision camera can see a 60 mm field of view. You could fit many valves in this 60mm window. Or you can even go for a much wider field of view, up to 30 inches, and potentially see all twenty valves with just one camera. Efficiency and cost savings are available, but you may need to look at the process a little different with a camera than a typical sensor.

Whether you decide to stick with a classic sensor system or swap for a new vision system, do what makes the most financial sense for your operation. If you only have one valve or only need to check for a glue line, a sensor will work great in that scenario. If you are running a multi-valve operation or need to detect multiple types of defects at high speeds, camera inspection might be the best option for you.

ClearVision products aim to make quality visible. If you’re interested in learning more about vision inspection system options, contact us today for more information.