Sensing in Food Packaging and Conveying
Food products move through various stages of packaging as they are prepared for delivery and display. Automation equipment and sensors must perform accurately and consistently while withstanding harsh washdown environments.
Inspection on a packaged meat conveying system presents some unique challenges. In this application, meat is prepared and placed on a dark plastic tray. Before the trays are wrapped and labeled, they move along a series of white conveyor belts. In this multiple-conveyor belt configuration, sensors must be positioned over each belt to detect the food trays as they move through the process.
The sensing characteristics of this application are simple, yet unique: the sensors are positioned directly above a white, highly reflective background and must detect darker, lower contrast objects of varying texture. The EZ-BEAM T18 fixed field sensor is an ideal solution. It has a sharp detection cutoff and is not sensitive to color variations – it will signal the presence of an object within a certain range and ignore the background. The sensor's right-angle housing allows for a low-profile machine design by keeping the cordset connections parallel with the mounting assembly. No range adjustments are needed, after the sensor is positioned over the conveyor at a height that ignores the background while detecting the food tray.
QD model T18 sensors are rated IP69K, and like many sensors in the EZ-BEAM family, they are designed to withstand frequent, harsh washdowns.