How vision systems can save labor
by Dan Malovany
To streamline operations and ensure product quality at McDonald's bun plants, EyePro System installed inspection systems in East Balt Commissary in Chicago, IL; Turano Baking’s facility in Orlando, FL; Baldinger Bakery in St. Paul, MN; and Northeast Foods Bakeries (Automatic Rolls of North Carolina) in Clayton, NC. In the Baldinger Bakery facility, EyePro System also installed its automatic laners to reduce labor and to improve the payback on the investment in inspection technology, according to Andrew McGhie, business manager, North America, EyePro System, Chicago.
“Vision technology is really achieving great penetration with many parts of the baking and snack industry seeing inspection technology as a given for a new production line,” Mr. McGhie explained. “On existing lines, there has also been a move to incorporate inspection technology, especially where that technology can lead to cost savings and labor savings. We have also seen the typical customer for inspection technology expand from mainly larger corporations to now include many smaller and family-owned business.”
Bakery customers, he added, are driving the need for online inspection systems. In some cases, these customers are requesting detailed product measurement compliance information that can be easily collected, analyzed and reported using the latest in inspection technology.
Cost savings, and specifically reductions in labor costs, help bakers and other food companies justify the investment in inspection technology, Mr. McGhie said. In some production facilities, quality assurance technicians or line operators must manually conduct the extensive sampling and testing required by customers. He added that online inspection systems can replace this manual sampling and testing, saving labor costs for the manufacturer.
Prior to the introduction of automated inspection and rejection technology on high-speed bakery lines, operators performed quality inspections at the in-feed to the packing machines. These operators also ensure the products continually flow into the required number of lanes to feed the packing machines.
“Inspection and rejection systems can automate the quality inspection process removing defective products from the line automatically,” Mr. McGhie said. “EyePro has been able to bring some labor saving to these manufacturers by developing an automated laning and lane-balancing system that can be adapted to buns, hot dogs, English muffins, bagels, sandwich thins and more. Now you have an automated quality inspection system that when combined with an automated laning and lane balancing system allows the manufacturer to reduce labor at the packaging machine.”