Inline profile inspection during quality control in the production of chocolate bars

Food manufacturers focus on production excellence and quality control to ensure 100% customer satisfaction.

For chocolate bar manufacturers, it is mainly determined by the shape and size of the finished product. Traditionally, these checks are carried out manually by the operator, which is both time-consuming and inefficient.

Sensor technology has advanced tremendously over the past decade and they are an integral part of the industrial transformation towards full automation. The non-contact optical laser profile scanner is ideal for quality control applications and can be easily integrated into the production and manufacturing environment.

As a leading supplier of sensors and instruments in Oceania, Bestech Australia provides precision sensor technology from Micro-Epsilon to meet industrial test requirements in Australia and New Zealand. The scanCONTROL 2960-100 laser profile scanner measures at high speed and can be 100% inspected on the production line.

Benefits of integrating laser profile scanners into a production environment

Laser profile scanners work on the principle of “laser line triangulation”. The position or profile of the detected object is calculated based on where the laser beam falls into the detector.

These profile sensors have a compact design, which allows them to be easily integrated into a confined or difficult-to-access space. They also offer very stable and accurate measurement on high speed applications up to 10 kHz thanks to their dynamic sensor array in the sensing elements. Operators can perform the necessary configuration and write a custom program via the easy-to-use web interface

Scanner measurements are unaffected by chocolate color or contrast, as the red laser generates stable measurements on almost any surface and fast-moving objects. Therefore, users can be confident that data quality is reliable and reproducible.

This sensor can be used to develop an integrated scanning system allowing 100% inspection of finished products. The profile scanner can be connected to the draw-wire encoder to improve accuracy and repeatability. This ensures that the sensor measures at a uniform distance, regardless of conveyor speed.

Easy integration and installation

These high-speed lasers are attached to the pillars of the conveyor belts to allow contactless detection of the profile of the finished chocolate bars. ScanCONTROL software was used to set the sensor flow to over 60 m/min. The results are transmitted to the scanCONTROL configuration software to allow automated inspection based on predefined parameters.

The sensor transmits the generated OK or NOK signal to the control system. It enables automated product inspection, giving operators time flexibility to focus on other workloads.

As the inspection process is online and fully automated, the system can operate with superior reliability and accuracy. This capability negates the risk of human error and unnecessary intervention. It also guarantees 100% product quality control as random sample checks are replaced with real-time inspection to increase production and achieve better results.

It also greatly reduces product waste as operators can immediately make necessary adjustments if an error is detected.

scanCONTROL scanners have a maximum measuring range of 200 mm, which would be sufficient for most applications in the food industry.

However, the scanCONTROL scanner has limitations in detecting micron-sized cracks, which can be solved using other sensor technology. It should be noted that customers may need to use a special protective enclosure for applications in the food and production environment.

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