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 maintenance: The three keys to success - Deploy people, process and technology; 2016 Lubrication Guide; Why hydraulic systems get hot
Your leaks start here: Take a disciplined approach with your hydraulic system; U.S. presence at Hannover Messe a rousing success
Hannover Messe 2016: Taking hold of the future - Partner Country status spotlights U.S. manufacturing; Honoring manufacturing excellence: The 2015 Product of the Year Winners
The digital oilfield: Utilizing Big Data can yield big savings; Virtualization a real solution; Tracking SIS performance
Getting to the bottom of subsea repairs: Older pipelines need more attention, and operators need a repair strategy; OTC preview; Offshore production difficult - and crucial
Digital oilfields: Integrated HMI/SCADA systems enable smarter data acquisition; Real-world impact of simulation; Electric actuator technology prospers in production fields
Improving flowmeter calibration; Selecting flowmeters for natural gas; Case study: Streamlining assembly systems using PC-based control; CLPM: Improving process efficiency, throughput
Putting COPS into context; Designing medium-voltage electrical systems; Planning and designing resilient, efficient data centers; The nine steps of designing generator fuel systems
Warehouse winter comfort: The HTHV solution; Cooling with natural gas; Plastics industry booming

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

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.
This article collection contains several articles on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and how it is transforming manufacturing.
This article collection contains several articles on strategic maintenance and understanding all the parts of your plant.
click me