Automated inspection system ensures carton integrity

Ensuring bottled beer carton reliability using long wave infrared imaging

October 20, 2016

Joe Fraser

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Glass beer bottles are typically packaged in cardboard cartons prior to storage and shipment from a brewery. In this process, a cartoning machine picks a single piece of cardboard from a stack and erects it, after which hot melt glue is applied to the flaps. Once the cartons are filled with bottles, these flaps are then folded to stick the sides of the cartons together to complete the assembly.

The application of the correct amount of glue to the carton is critical to ensure that it will remain intact during shipment. By making sure that the glue is the right temperature and has been applied to the correct areas in the desired quantity, the manufacturer can be certain that the boxes are stuck together thoroughly and are safe to be moved and ready for transport.

If the flaps are not properly stuck together, however, the cartons can collapse on the pallets in a storage warehouse causing breakages. A secondary issue is that even if the glue is applied in the right place — but the flaps are not formed or folded properly in the cartoning machine — this results in an irregularly shaped carton which can also cause damages.

Traditionally, boxes of beer have been manually inspected to ensure their integrity. If an operator detects that a carton has been incorrectly glued together or malformed, the carton would typically be removed from the production line by the operator and either repaired or repackaged.

However, since manual inspection procedures are prone to error and operator fatigue, the accuracy and the repeatability of the process and the quality of the package cannot be assured.

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