Inspection System for Beer Keg Quality Assurance

Green Bay, Wis.-based Tosca Ltd. cleans and reconditions many different food-industry containers. Examples include: bulk cheese containers; bulk plastic bins, for pizza crust production and transportation; returnable plastic containers, for transporting produce and meat; and beer kegs. Several different brewers employ Tosca to repair and clean their kegs.

12/15/2005


Green Bay, Wis.-based Tosca Ltd. cleans and reconditions many different food-industry containers. Examples include: bulk cheese containers; bulk plastic bins, for pizza crust production and transportation; returnable plastic containers, for transporting produce and meat; and beer kegs.

Several different brewers employ Tosca to repair and clean their kegs. After repair of a beer kegs, valve inserts are placed back in the barrels and a retaining ring is positioned in the stem so the valve cannot pop out of the stem. Next, the keg is pressurized and checked for leaks prior to shipment.

Ifa retaining ring is not placed or properly seated, this could pose a quality issue for the customer. Tosca quality assurance personnel perform visual secondary inspections on 100% of their finished product to ensure that each barrel's retaining ring is properly inserted.

Curt Dhein, Tosca's Green Bay plant manager said, "This was very time-consuming, and we were sure there had to be a better way to ensure the retaining ring had been properly installed during our process. We had used vision systems in some of our other operations with good success, so we wondered if that technology would work in this application." Consequently, HiTech Control Systems Inc., also of Green Bay, was contracted to design a vision system to verify the presence of the retaining ring on kegs with slotted valves and notify the operator if a retaining ring is missing.

Seeing clearly

HiTech's system-integration approach encompassed:

  • Project characterization and management;

  • Vision design, programming, configuration;

  • Configuring inspection tools for:

  • Ring/no ring/partial ring,

  • Screw-in valve types;

  • Camera setup and lighting;

  • System startup, users' manuals and training;

  • Mounting equipment in panel;

  • Mounting a cloudy day illuminator in camera; and

  • Field service support;

There are two keg sizes and two valve-insert types—threaded and slotted—that go through inspection. Retaining rings are necessary in kegs using slotted valves, but are not used in kegs fitted with threaded valves. Keg color is either black or silver. "The highly reflective, stainless-steel keg-neck and valve posed a challenge for generating images," stated Josh Hemstreet, electrical engineer, HiTech.

The system must notify the operator if the retaining ring is not fully inserted. An exception is a second keg type that has a screw-in valve; it must be identified and automatically passed.

The retaining ring is properly placed at the first station. There the operator places a keg on the stem holder where a threaded valve is turned in and torqued to specification. A slotted valve is inserted and a retaining ring is placed on the plunger mechanism. After the operator pushes two buttons—one with each hand—the plunger is activated, pushing down on the valve. This allows the operator to insert the retaining ring between the valve and the end of the valve stem. Next, the operator presses the third button to retract the plunger mechanism.

The operator then moves the keg to the inspection station. Here the part is repeatedly positioned to within

Inspection

A continuous diffuse illuminator was selected to light the keg stem to avoid creation of image saturation areas. Inspection is initiated by a pushbutton. The keg remains at the inspection station until the vision equipment passes the keg.

If there is a threaded valve, or a slotted valve with a fully inserted retaining ring, a green light illuminates, and the keg is automatically moved to the pressurization station. If the retaining ring is not present, or partially inserted, a red light is activated, an audible alarm sounds, and the keg stays in the inspection station.

Vegetables too

Tosca also uses DVT vision systems for spinach crate inspection. DVT was used due to scalability and availability of no-cost programming-software and training. DVT programming software allows camera system connectivity from any company location via Ethernet link. HiTech is a certified systems integrator for DVT and Cognex vision systems.



Author Information

David Thode and Josh Hemstreet are operations manager and electrical engineer, respectively, with HiTech Control Systems Inc.




No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
World-class manufacturing: A recipe for success: Finding the right mix for a salad dressing line; 2015 Salary Survey: Manufacturing slump dims enthusiasm
2015 Top Plant: Phoenix Contact, Middletown, Pa.; 2015 Best Practices: Automation, Electrical Safety, Electrical Systems, Pneumatics, Material Handling, Mechanical Systems
A cool solution: Collaboration, chemistry leads to foundry coat product development; See the 2015 Product of the Year Finalists
Digital oilfields: Integrated HMI/SCADA systems enable smarter data acquisition; Real-world impact of simulation; Electric actuator technology prospers in production fields
Special report: U.S. natural gas; LNG transport technologies evolve to meet market demand; Understanding new methane regulations; Predictive maintenance for gas pipeline compressors
Cyber security cost-efficient for industrial control systems; Extracting full value from operational data; Managing cyber security risks
Getting ready for industrial IoT; Visualizing the (applied) automation continuum; Preventing VFD faults and failures; Using wireless for closed-loop applications
Migrating industrial networks; Tracking HMI advances; Making the right automation changes
Understanding transfer switch operation; Coordinating protective devices; Analyzing NEC 2014 changes; Cooling data centers

Annual Salary Survey

After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.

The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.

Read more: 2014 Salary Survey: Confidence rises amid the challenges

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
This article collection contains several articles on the vital role that compressed air plays in manufacturing plants.