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Elbicon colour scanning equipment.

Back in 1976 Elbicon BV began making electronic colour sorters. Over a period of time these have been greatly developed to solve problems in industry.

Their MAT 2000 is an electronic detection unit that is able to automatically remove foreign bodies from fresh vegetables. This particular unit was the first item made by the company, and it was developed in conjunction with a major European canner. Its detector mounted above a conveyor contains 40 detector cards and each card is equipped with two infra red light transmitters and receivers that produce one detection point for every centimetre of belt width. Each of these detection points covers an area of 2cm square, so overlapping its neighbour. Such an arrangement allows one detection point to be turned off by the self-diagnostic circuit and yet still allow the system to work.

The detection principle is based on the reflection of modulated and polarized infra red light on objects to be detected. Thus, the electronics are able to distinguish between reflection from good product and from unwanted material. This implies the reflectance of the belt must be very similar to that of the product. Two separate sensitivities are built-in so it is possible to adjust the sensitivity for objects reflecting more and objects reflecting less than vegetables.

With this system the conveyor speed is held between 120 and 170m a minute and an ejection system of flaps is used to discard unwanted material.

The Novascan 4000 is a newer system for automatic colour sorting using computer technology and high speed cameras. The first problem to solve was the spatial arrangement of the cameras. For instance, what would happen if dirt obscured the bottom two cameras, how would the other two form an accurate picture of the product being scanned. Computer simulation led to the positioning of the cameras to allow the best inspection of the six faces of a cube-shaped product.

The next problem was to design an ejection system to remove faulty product. In this instance the ejection system is dealing with falling product so the exact trajectory has to be checked to ensure the electronically controlled compressed air guns blow out unwanted material. With such a machine, it is possible to programme it to the exact requirements of the product to be sorted. It can be set up in such a way that it is possible to specify how large a blemish has to be or what discoloration is acceptable before product is considered to be defective. The setting of these limits is displayed graphically on the unit's video screen; even the ejectors can be trained to hit the centre of an item or its ends.

The Elbiscan 5000 is their latest development and has been designed to provide continuous automatic in-line detection and rejection of impurities and defects in food products. It uses concentrated light beams (helium-neon, argon laser or both) to scan the product. With this unit, a single layer of product is fed into the system along a fast moving conveyor whose width is just less than 38in. Belt speed is 530ft a minute and at the end of the belt, product flies over a background rotating drum where it is scanned in free fall. The light beam will, by means of the high speed rotating polygon mirror, scan the product matched background 1000 times a second. The machine detects the difference in reflectivity between good product and unwanted material. A rapid response processor determines the location of the unwanted item and an air jet is targeted at the item to ensure its immediate removal from the product flow. The makers tell us that accuracies of least 99 percent can be attained with such a system.

Detection facilities can be arranged mono, bi or trichromatically to suit the product in question. The unit can cope surface reflection or scattering and handle wet, dry or frozen material. To ensure the highest levels of product scanning, it is important to measure colour rather than the amount of light reflected, and to accommodate this the Elbiscan 5000 operates across a wide colour range. Parts of the visual spectrum can be used for some applications. This unit is constructed in stainless steel so air hoses can be used for cleaning and a water spray system can be applied both to the good product and reject chutes. To ensure the optical system is always operating to full specification, a high speed blow down system is incorporated, and the machine's control system itself is fully self-checking.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Food Trade Press Ltd.
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Elbicon BV
Publication:Food Trade Review
Date:Feb 1, 1992
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