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2022-06-09

3D Robotics in the Bakery Industry

KINE Robotics Oy, a supplier of turnkey automation solutions in Finland, has developed a solution for the bakery industry assisted by OEM Finland. 

KINE's customers include players in the food, beverage and logistics industries, as well as semiconductor and general manufacturing. For more than 20 years, they have designed, implemented and delivered fully customized robot-based solutions to meet customers’ diverse and unique requirements.

The bakery’s requirements

A customer in the bakery industry asked the KINE team to develop a bread bag boxing system where the robot picks up bread bags from a moving conveyor. The sizes of products are irregular and shapes vary by type of bread, so determining the location and direction of the bags on the conveyor was challenging. The transparent plastic packaging also makes it difficult to detect bags using optical sensors due to low contrast and partial reflections.

OEM’s solution for KINE

OEM Finland, a Basler representative in Finland, worked with KINE on development and the supply of components

This led to KINE’s machine vision system which incorporates our Basler Blaze 101 3D-Flight (ToF) camera. 

Why the Basler Blaze 101 3D Time-of-Flight (ToF) camera?

The Basler camera was one reason KINE chose this system. Another was the smooth interaction of components.

The ToF camera eliminates the need for separate lighting, as well as possible reading errors stemming from low contrast and partial reflections.

"We liked how smoothly the 3D ToF camera integrated into our software," says Tero Urponen, KINE's project manager. "In other projects, we've used multi-camera systems, which can be a little tricky. In this case, it was very nice to have one system control everything instead of having each camera programmed separately.

Case studies

How the bread packing system works with our Basler 3D Time-of-Flight camera

Basler Blaze camera used in bakery packing solution

Bread of different shapes and sizes is packed in transparent plastic bags which pass through a machine vision system on a conveyor.

Basler Blaze camera used in bakery packing solution

The Basler 3D ToF camera, mounted above the conveyor, captures the bread bags moving on the conveyor. The ToF camera sends 3D depth map data to software  for processing and analysis.

The user interface software used in Kine bakery solution

The user interface, located close to the production line, provides an overview of the entire system. This allows the user to control the entire production cell, set and adjust speed and timing.

The result of using the 3D Time-of-Flight camera

Before the development of the new machine vision system, bread was packed manually in transport boxes. 

This repetitive step has been replaced by an efficient system that has reduced both the time taken and the chance of errors occurring. 

The system consists of components that are synchronized with each other to ensure maximum conveyor speed. 

A key element is the machine vision system with 3D camera technology which, unlike 2D technology, accurately detects the location and direction of packets regardless of light, colour or contrast.

Before the robot grabs the packages, the Basler Blaze-101 3D camera mounted above the conveyor belt records the surfaces as a point cloud using a time-of-flight (ToF) method with more than 300,000 XYZ coordinates. 

This project is an excellent example of the benefits of modern 3D technology. Instead of traditional contrast-based 2D analysis, bags are identified by their volume. This makes the application much more secure and less sensitive to packaging colour changes,” adds Miikka Himanka, Product Manager at OEM Finland.

KINE estimates that using a ToF camera rather than traditional camera and lighting options means a 75% reduction in total machine vision costs.

"[With traditional camera and lighting options] a lot of settings usually need to be adjusted and tested to get the right contrasts to detect objects," Urponen comments.

KINE and their customers are very pleased with the final system, which is faster and has a lower error rate than the previous way of handling bread bags manually. Thanks to the new machine vision system, the robot can process 25-30 packets per minute. 

"We are already considering the possibility of adding measurement limits to products so that defective products are left untreated or marked as defective as they move through the system," says Urponen.

Summary

The bread bag boxing system, using an operation based on the conveyor and implemented with a 3D camera, is very well suited to the automated processes of packaging lines with robots.

The KINE team sees many opportunities to integrate 3D technology into its customized robot solutions in the future, due in large part to the success of this 3D positioning and picking robot system.

 

To see how OEM can help find a solution to your conveyor system or robotics application, email [email protected].

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