Inspection Systems Continue to Advance Flexible Packaging
Flexible Packaging recently caught up with Jerry Leonards, converting division manager (paper, film and foil), Erhardt-Leimer Inc., to talk inspection and detection.
Q: What’s new in the world of inspection and detection?
A: E+L has recently come out with a new 100 percent inspection camera for 13- and 17-inch widths. This camera is meant to find the larger defects that an operator might miss, and (it) does this at a much more affordable price point than the previous high-end systems. This new camera uses a matrix-based sensor instead of the single line scan sensors of the past. This gives users the ability to have more flexibility in how the sensor can be used while maintaining good resolution. Simplicity in design and use are key features in our SMARTSCAN unit. During normal operation, the operator will only need to press two buttons to control the inspection. Just press the teach button and then press the start button and you are running. SMARTSCAN is both easy to install by including rollers, camera and lighting into a compact enclosure as well as wide touch screen graphical controls. This makes it both easy (to) install for new applications but also extremely easy to add on to retrofit into existing machinery.
Q: What are some of the most common flaws that good inspection and detection can help sniff out when it comes to flexible packaging?
A: Splice, flag, missing label, unremoved matrix, damaged label, printing error (i.e. filled letters/missing letters, wipes, ink splash).
Q: What are some of the consequences of poor inspection/detection when it comes to flexible packaging?
A: Without inspection, the machine operator is responsible for continuously checking to see if the machine is producing good product. Even if the operator is working on another task, the system is still working and checking every label and every image. This then frees the operator to focus on other tasks, making them more productive. Delivering bad product to the end user is bad for business, period. Adding an inspection system is a way to show end customers that the product was verified 100 percent and quality is a top priority no matter how small the job is. Depending on the industry, bad product could even mean compliance issues for the end user.
Q: What are some things that converters and printers should be on the lookout for when it comes to acquiring inspection/detection equipment?
A: There are many systems out there – some are good and some are not. There are many great high-end systems that offer 100 percent inspection, but these systems are typically difficult to operate, and with the complexity comes a high-end cost. When comparing systems, one should be aware of what is included in the total package. Is it an integrated solution complete with software, or is it simply a camera the user must then integrate? Also be aware that some of the low-end systems are not made with industrial grade electronics, which can lead to high failure rates under normal usage.