Accurate Counting of Transparent Pharmaceutical Bottles

Clear Bottle Counting Image

Application: Detecting and counting clear bottles

Challenges: Translucent material, reflected emitted light, high-speed line

Solution: Banner Engineering's WORLD-BEAM QS30 Clear Object Sensor

Benefits: Detects small changes in light levels with a 500 microsecond response time

Detecting and counting clear bottles in pharmaceutical applications has been a difficult sensing challenge. With traditional photoelectric sensors the sensing beam may burn through translucent materials, or the emitted light may reflect off of the bottle, resulting in unreliable counting results. Ultrasonic sensors can be used to reliably detect clear objects, but ultrasonic solutions may not have a fast enough response time and the ultrasonic beam is usually too wide to detect the gaps between bottles. A solution is needed that will reliably count clear bottles as they pass on a conveyor and is sensitive to the small gaps between targets.

Description

The World-Beam QS30 Clear Object Sensor has been created specifically to reliably detect and count clear objects. The optical design of the QS30 Clear Object Sensor controls how the emitted light strikes the reflector. The stable and controlled optical path allows the sensor’s microcontroller to detect small changes in the light level. Additionally, the fast 500 microsecond response time makes the sensor able to detect and count the clear bottles as they quickly pass on the conveyor.

For counting applications, the switching threshold is based on the amount of light received by the sensor as the gap between the bottles passes through the light beam. To configure this application, the sensor is aligned to the retroreflector and the bottles are positioned so that the beam is passing through the gap between the bottles. A Light SET is then performed to teach the sensor the expected light level it should receive from the retroreflector. The user selects a switchpoint, either 8 (clear), 16 (medium) or 32 (dark) percent below this taught light level. All conditions darker than this selected switchpoint will trigger an output.

In this application, the sensor’s automatic compensation algorithm should be disabled to prevent the sensor from adjusting to the brighter light level it receives when no bottle is present. It’s advised to select the darkest switchpoint which reliably detects the bottle. The medium level will work for most applications. Dark level may provide more robust detection under difficult environmental conditions (e.g. dust, vibration, etc.).

The QS30 Clear Object Sensor is easily configurable using either the push button on the sensor or via a remote input line. The QS30ELVC is rated IP67 and PW12 for protection against water entering the sensor.


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