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Consistent Detection of Transparent Plastic Bottles Along a Conveyor Machine [Success Story]

Plastic Bottles Application Image

Customer Requirements: Consistent detection of transparent materials at multiple points throughout a conveyor machine

Solution: QS18 Expert Clear Object Detection Sensor, BRT-51X51BM Reflector, SMB30SUS Mounting Swivel Block

Why Banner? Clear object detection – The World Beam QS18 Expert™ Clear Object Detection sensor features a polarized coaxial optical design and was created to detect very small changes in received light

Configurable and reliable – sensor can be fine-tuned to meet adapting needs of the application

Adaptable – Sensor can detect a variety of bottles and the swivel mount allows for more flexibility in positioning of the sensors

Customer Benefits

Competitive pricing – The QS18 Expert™ COD Sensor costs less than comparable sensors without sacrificing performance quality

Ease-of-use – Simple pushbutton teach makes the QS18E Clear Object Detection Sensor easy to install and adjust

Background

A machinery company was experiencing blockages and jams on the conveyor machines they assemble. When installed to monitor the flow of plastic bottles, traditional sensors failed to provide consistent and correct results. Banner Engineering stepped in to help. This company designs and manufactures conveyor systems that typically get used in fast paced environments within the consumer goods and packaging industries. Any jams or slow-downs on their machines would cause unwanted downtime and additional expenses to the numerous companies that use their product. In a conveyor machine build, multiple sensors need to be located along the length of the line to monitor clear bottles and trigger any necessary adjustments of the machine as the product travels downstream. The previously used sensors had issues with intermittent sensing. The transparent bottles were not being detected consistently and were causing the machine to perform incorrectly. These same sensors also tended to be sold at higher price points that did not justify the unreliable performance. 

Challenges

Clear or shiny objects present one of the largest challenges to photoelectric sensors. Any changes in reflectivity, target shape or size, and even color can complicate matters. It is relatively common for standard sensors to burn through a clear target or for light to be reflected back in unpredictable ways, causing false readings.

In this particular application, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles are used and PET material is traditionally extremely difficult to sense. The empty bottles are fed into an accumulator and then travel further down the conveyor belt. As the bottles move, the risk of jams or delays is present. Any jams or backups along the conveyor would cost the company a lot of unnecessary downtime and wasted product, which then leads to additional costs to correct these errors. 

Solution

Banner Engineering’s QS18 Expert™ Clear Object Detection Sensors, paired with BRT-51X51BM reflectors, are used at strategic points throughout the length of the conveyor. At these various locations, the sensors are adjusted to detect gaps in between the PET bottles in order to monitor product flow and recognize errors along the line. These sensors then prompt the machine to speed up, slow down, or stop the infeed of bottles in order to prevent jams. 

The QS18 Expert™ Clear Object Detection Sensor features a polarized coaxial optical design and can detect very small changes in the amount of light received. These unique features make clear object detection easy and fast. This sensor has a 400 microsecond response time and when paired with reflective targets they provide dependable sensing in a consumer goods and packaging setting. 

The installation of swivel mounting blocks provided the customer with extraordinary versatility on their conveyors. The swivel capability allows for a wider range of motion than standard mounting brackets, plus it provides more options for mounting locations along the machine.

Conclusion

The machinery company was looking for a sensor that was able to consistently detect clear PET bottles at multiple points along a conveyor.  The introduction of our QS18 Expert™ Clear Object Detection Sensor into this bottle application proved to be a highly effective and easy implement solution for the company. Not only was it designed specifically to sense clear and translucent material, which is usually very difficult to detect, but it does so with consistency in a fast-paced environment. This sensor can be fine-tuned to detect a variety of PET bottles and easily adapts to the growing needs of the company. It is also a very affordable sensor that outperforms other sensors with similar qualities.

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