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Interface Sensors Optimize Food Canning and Production

In the food packaging and production industry, consistency and quality are key. Due to this, many food production and packaging facilities are utilizing automation more than ever. The automation process includes monitoring actions and tasks using force measurement sensors. These sensors collect critical data to maximize food production and packaging efficiency.

Interface provides force measurement sensors and systems for equipment, devices, and machines that produce and package consumable products across various use cases. From harvesting and sorting to processing and packing, force measurements improve quality control, efficiency, and safety in food production and packaging. For example, production line engineers use sensors to detect and reject defective products, monitor equipment performance, and identify potential hazards.

The versatility of Interface sensor technologies provides the ability to innovate and solve challenges related to condition, consistency, and productivity for canning and food production. Whether using a small LBM Compression Load Button Load Cell within a production line machine or deploying multi-axis sensors during production to gather feedback in real-time, Interface has a diverse range of transducer and instrumentation options.

How Interface Products Improve Canning and Food Production

  • Monitoring the pressure applied to a mixer to ensure consistent product quality.
  • Regulating the force applied to a canning line to prevent cans from being damaged.
  • Detecting unknown items in food products.
  • Measuring the force in picking fruit or vegetables without damaging them.
  • Capping with precision to prevent crushing the bottles.
  • Sorting by the size, weight, and firmness of produce ensures it meets quality standards.
  • Controlling the force applied to food during cutting, slicing, grinding, and other processing steps.
  • Ensuring food is packaged correctly and safely, with the correct pressure and cushioning.
  • Weighing food products precisely to ensure accurate packaging.
  • Monitoring the force applied to a robotic arm to ensure safe and efficient handling of food products.

Using Interface load cells, food production and packaging companies can gather instant force measurements from their production line. For instance, when a canned goods company is filling its packaging with any food, a load cell can be used to measure the weight of the food in the can and automatically notify the filling machine when it is complete. This will tell the device to move on to the next can. All this can be done without any human intervention.

Alternatively, force sensors can be used to monitor the health of the production line. Force sensors are often installed in industrial machines to collect data on the operations of devices. This data can be analyzed and used to help predict when a machine might need maintenance or a conveyor belt can be outfitted with force sensors to help keep everything aligned. This contributes to greater food packaging and production quality and less downtime for the production line.

Interface force measurement solutions are used in all aspects of food production, including agriculture equipment, weighing scales, industrial automation robotics, and lifting machines used to transport consumer goods. Here are a few customer use cases.

Commercial Food Processing

A food processing plant wants accurate results of their in-motion check weighing equipment when food is weighted and processed down the belt. They want to ensure production line efficiency and food quality. The customer also wants real-time results of their food being weighed and a load cell that can endure the industry’s highly regulated environment. Multiple Interface scale load cells can be installed in the customer’s in-motion check weigher at the specific points where the food is weighed on the belt. The SPI High Capacity Platform Scale Load Cells deliver precise weighing results. When connected to the 920i Programmable Weight Indicator and Controller, it will give the customer real-time results of food weight, which can read up to four scale channels. Read more: WEIGHING: Commercial Food Processing.

Fruit Weighing and Packaging

A customer owns and operates a fruit packaging plant. They want to weigh the bins full of fruit loaded onto conveyor belts that transfer the fruit to other steps of the distribution process to read the hands of the consumer in grocery stores. Interface suggests installing SPI Low Capacity Platform Scale Load Cells and WTS-AM-1E Wireless Strain Bridge Transmitter Modules in the center of the platforms the fruit bins are loaded on. The WTS-AM-1E wirelessly transmits the data collected from the SPI to the WTS-BS-1-HA Wireless Handheld Display for multiple transmitters and the WTS-BS-6 Wireless Telemetry Dongle Base Station when connected to the customer’s computer. Read more: Fruit Weighing App Note.

Food and Beverage Conveyor Belt equipped with PBLC Pillow Block Load Bearing Load Cells and 920i Programmable Weight Indicator and Controller

Food and Beverage Conveyor Belt

Conveyor belts for the food and beverage industry must be maintained and adequately aligned to transport the products. A load cell is necessary to prevent misalignment and to reduce the risk of damage or malfunction of the belt while in operation. PBLC Pillow Block Load Bearing Load Cells can be installed onto the conveyor belt. They are designed for easy maintenance and will measure and monitor the force of the conveyor belt while preventing misalignment. Using the PBLC Pillow Block Load Cells, Interface’s customer successfully maintained the proper alignment of the conveyor belt for the food and beverages being transported while also monitoring the forces being implemented. Read more: Food and Beverage Conveyor Belt.

Snack Weighing and Packaging Machine

A snack manufacturing brand wanted to weigh the amount of their snacks automatically dispersed into the bags during packaging. In this case, they want to weigh their potato chips being packaged. The company also wanted to ensure the potato chips were at the exact weight needed to meet regulatory standards to be distributed to consumers in the public. Interface’s solution was to use multiple SPI Platform Scale Load Cells and install them to the potato multi-head weigher and packaging machine. The SPI Platform Scale Load cells were installed inside the mount that attaches the head weigher to the packaging machine. Force results from the potato chips were read by the load cells and sent to the ISG-isolated, where the customer could control the automated production from their command center. Using this solution, the customer could determine the weight of the potato chips being distributed into their bags with highly accurate results. They also were able to control the automated production process with the provided instrumentation. They will use this same weighing method for other snacks that need to be packaged.

As many industries turn to automation to improve productivity and quality while reducing waste, force sensors will play an increasingly critical role in providing accurate and immediate data to optimize equipment and machines. In the food service industry, we are already seeing a significant impact on the quality of production processes using force measurement.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Interface Manufacturing and Production Solutions

Force Measurement for Efficiency in Food Processing and Packaging

Load Cells for Smarter and More Efficient Weighing

Watch how sensors are used in industrial robotics for packaging.

Vertical Farming for Sustainable Food Production on Earth and Beyond

Interface Helps to Move Agriculture Innovation Forward

Chicken Weighing

 

 

 

Interface Solutions for Robotics and Industrial Automation

As the manufacturing world continues to push towards the 4.0 Industrial Revolution, critical technology is necessary to ensure facilities are running as efficiently as possible. With advancements toward fully or semi-autonomous factories and robotics, manufacturers need to have total trust in their hardware and software to perform with precision in the assigned tasks. This requires collecting accurate and real-time data to constantly monitor every aspect of the facility’s technology and production.

In the development of robotics used in industrial automation, our Interface Multi-Axis Sensors are often used to test the multi-directional movement and force of robotics arms. Whether it’s a fully automated or semi-automated robotic system, manufacturers need to be able to ensure the complex movements and actions of the robotics arm are optimized to take on very precise jobs. These types of robotics are often used for projects that are too precise for the human hand.

Industrial automation and robotics are creating a more efficient manufacturing process, which will help to churn products out more quickly and lower costs. However, to optimize these processes, it’s critical that we trust the hardware to operate autonomously and that we have systems in-place to identify malfunctions quickly.

Interface plays a critical role in robotics and industrial automation by providing our customers with highly accurate load cells and torque transducers to measure and collect data on the force and torque that these machines are exerting. Interface force measurement solutions and products are involved in the testing of the machines before they hit the production line, and in some cases, our products are also installed directly on the machine to allow users to monitor the force in real-time.

One industry that has a high demand for our products is the consumer packaging industry. Many of the processes involved in the production line of a consumer packaging plant have utilized automation for a long time.

For instance, beverage companies that sell bottles of water or soda utilize machines that cap the product all day long. Hundreds of thousands of bottles go through the capping process on the production line daily. If there are any issues with the torque applied in the capping process, the beverage company could see heavy losses because the bottle could be damaged from over torquing the cap, or the beverage could leak during the shipping process if the caps are under torqued. To avoid these loses, the machines are optimized using a torque transducer.

Torque transducers provide data during the testing process to help the machine manufacturer get the force exactly right for the capping process. The torque transducer can also stay installed on the machine so that the beverage company can continuously monitor the torque of the machine and stop production before damages occur if there is an issue.

Interface offers nearly 50 types of reaction (static) torque transducers and rotary (dynamic) torque transducers. All of our torque transducers are precision-machined and use our proprietary torque sensors for the most accurate data possible.

Another common automation use for force and torque measurement products is in the automotive industry. Automation in this industry has been used for some time increase production of cars.

Two examples of how Interface load cells and torque transducers play a role in the automobile production line is with seat durability testing and bolt fastening.

For seat testing, we had a customer use an Interface Multi-Axis Model 6A68C 6-Axis Load Cell to identify previously unknown bending forcing that could negatively influence their testing process. This allowed the customer to redesign their testing fixture to eliminate the bending moment and more accurately perform the durability testing.

For bolt fastening, we installed an Interface Model LWCF Clamping Force Load Washers along with Interface Instrumentation to monitor the force being applied during bolt tightening. This helped the customer avoid over tightening bolts, which could damage the product in the process.

For a more in-depth overview of both applications, please check out our application notes:

Force measurement products are a critical technology in the testing and monitoring of automation equipment. To learn more about the various products and instrumentation Interface supplies to facilitate industrial automation and support advancements in robotics, contact our applications experts here.  We also have a number of application notes focused on industrial automation here.

Contributor: Ken Bishop, Sr Sales Director, Custom Solutions and Services