Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Computer vision system detects foreign objects in processed poultry and food products

22.07.2005


The squared segments indicate that the GTRI computer vision system’s software has detected a foreign object (in this case, plastic glove pieces) in the sample product. Photo Courtesy GTRI


Although metal detectors help commercial food processors keep metal fragments from ending up in finished products, these detectors can’t identify plastic and other foreign objects.

And as plastic becomes more widespread, used in everything from conveyor belts to latex gloves, plastic contamination is a growing concern for many food processing operations.

For the past year, John Stewart, a research engineer at the Georgia Tech Research Institute, has been leading a development team in building a computer-vision system that identifies plastic and other unwanted elements in finished food products. The project is funded by Georgia’s Traditional Industries Program for Food Processing with additional support from industrial partners.



The system, now in final development stages, is scheduled to begin field testing later this summer. Also, Stewart presented a paper on the project on July 18 at the American Society of Agricultural Engineers’ 2005 annual meeting in Tampa, Fla.

Incidences of plastic contamination are infrequent, but when they occur, fallout can be extensive. Recalls are expensive, not only in terms of logistics and returned product, but also because recalls can tarnish a company’s brand image and reduce consumer confidence.

Even if contamination is caught before a product leaves the factory, it can take a toll, depending on the extent of the problem and when it occurred. "When you have 6,000 to 8,000 pounds of poultry moving along the production line every hour, that’s a lot of chicken to reprocess or write-off," Stewart said.

To help food processors ensure product quality, GTRI’s innovative inspection tool combines computer vision technology with sophisticated color discrimination algorithms. The computer-vision system, which sits above the production line adjacent to metal detectors, is first trained to identify the conveyor belt background and desired characteristics for the food product. This information is stored in the computer’s hard drive, and as the product moves along the conveyor, the computer-vision system captures digital pictures and analyzes them. If the system sees an object it doesn’t recognize, it records the digital image and activates an alarm and kick-off device that removes the product from the line.

Although this system can determine a full range of color, lab tests have focused on finding blue and green objects. Blue has become a standardized color for plastic used in the food processing environment. "Few foods are blue, so food processors hope that line workers will recognize any foreign objects making their way into the product stream," Stewart explained.

Yet humans don’t make the most consistent inspectors. Although people are easily trained, they are also easily distracted, said GTRI research engineer Doug Britton, who is also working on the project.

"The product stream is moving very quickly – about 12 feet per second, which is the equivalent of eight miles per hour. If a person blinks or looks away for even a second, they can miss a problem," Britton explained. "In contrast, machine vision is very diligent. It doesn’t get tired or bored."

What’s more, line workers see only the top of finished products. GTRI’s computer-vision system captures additional views of surface area by taking digital images as products tumble off one conveyor belt and onto another.

"That doesn’t guarantee the system will spot every single incidence," Stewart said. "Yet if it misses a fragment on one piece of product, it should stop subsequent products. The key is to pinpoint where contamination happened and how widespread it is."

In lab tests, the system has been able to identify foreign objects as small as 1.5 millimeters with few false alarms and high accuracy rates (approaching 100 percent), researchers said. As the researchers begin field tests later this summer, one of their objectives is to see how well the system works in a real-world setting over a long period of time.

The system is designed to operate on conveyor belts moving 12 feet per second. In the lab, top conveyor speeds were 3 feet per second. But researchers simulated factory conditions by using dimmer lights and a longer integration time to produce blur.

The ultimate goal is to make the computer-vision system as fast and accurate as possible without outpricing the technology for industry users, researchers noted. To that end, GTRI has partnered with Gainco Inc., an equipment manufacturer in Gainesville, Ga. Gainco has provided feedback during the system’s development, and the company plans to make the production-scale system that will be used in field tests.

Though lab tests focused on finding plastic fragments in poultry products, GTRI’s computer-vision system also can identify non-plastic contaminants, such as glass, and be used for meat and other food products.

"We’re trying to make the system as generic as possible, so anything that doesn’t look like the product will be detected," Stewart said.

Jane M. Sanders | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.edi.gatech.edu

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht UT professor develops algorithm to improve online mapping of disaster areas
29.11.2016 | University of Tennessee at Knoxville

nachricht New standard helps optical trackers follow moving objects precisely
23.11.2016 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer ISE Develops Highly Compact, High Frequency DC/DC Converter for Aviation

The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses

02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product

02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?

02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>