"The brand essence is the decisive factor"

The Fürstenberg brewery as a premium provider with "a beer culture dating back to 1283" attaches special importance to quality.  Not only the product but also the packaging has to meet the highest standards.  The southern German brewery checks whether this also applies to its empty crates using the teachable sidewall inspection of the HEUFT LGX.

Daniel Haag knows "a premium beer must have the corresponding appearance".  This is also relevant with regard to the crate pool according to the Technical Manager of the "Fürstlich Fürstenbergische Brauerei GmbH & Co. KG" in Donaueschingen.  The cases of the principal brand "Fürstenberg" have gradually been replaced by newly designed crates over the last two years.  The lettering and the coat of arms on the sidewalls have been given a new look among other things.  As a result this logo has developed even more into an elementary identification criterion at the point of sale.  Therefore it has to be perfect.  "This is a really important point" according to Mr Haag.  "The brand essence is the decisive factor".

Different designs – one program

It is essential that the case in question is removed from circulation if EAN labels and stickers are stuck over the label or this area is dirty or damaged.  This is also true, among other things, of empty crates with cable binders or defects on the recessed grips as well as crates from building sites covered with cement residue.  "That is why it is important for us to have the appropriate empty crate inspection on the premises" explains the Technical Manager.  It must be able to examine all four sidewalls precisely at an output of up to 3,000 cases per hour.  But that is not all by any means says Mr Haag:  "I do not want to reject 100% of the old crates".  Only battered or unsightly cases should be removed from the production flow.  In addition those of the other brands (Riegeler, Qowaz and Bären) have to be checked.  Therefore a system with tolerance was required which can process a total of twelve differently sized brands and combine various crate designs with varying graphic and text elements in one and the same program.  Whether an old or a new Fürstenberg logo:  "It is absolutely essential to be able to run both at the same time" is how Mr Haag describes the requirements.  Existing checking devices could not fulfil these.

The HEUFT LGX was encountered when searching for an alternative.  "We became aware of it because we were looking for a device to meet our special requirements and we had already successfully implemented other projects using the HEUFT detection logic" recollects Mr Haag.  For example the HEUFT VX provides "very good service", among other things, during the bottle burst detection, fill height check and closure fault detection.  A project partnership for the new installation of this technology was entered into with HEUFT when it became clear that the new sidewall inspection of the system could fulfil the brewery´s requirements.

Precise fault detection

"Not only were our wishes taking into consideration during the course of this but discussed in a constructive manner and then carried out in the best way possible" is how Mr Haag praises the co–operation.  The result is convincing too:  "The detection reliability and accuracy are very good".  The HEUFT LGX which was put into operation at the beginning of the year even identifies bits of paper considerably smaller than specified.  For this colour cameras produce high resolution images from all four sides of the case to be examined.  The HEUFT reflexx image processing system converts them into extensive total views which show the respective crate wall completely.  The characteristics of the objects detected there are compared with those on the reference picture saved of a sidewall without faults:  is this a fault or rather a design difference which can be tolerated?  The result of this first evaluation is shown on the HEUFT PILOT graphical user interface as a bar chart and in figures.  Good objects are marked in green and potential faults in red.

A high degree of flexibility

But this outcome is in no way final.  The marked objects can be specifically selected and individually characterised by means of a touchscreen.  For example at the Fürstenberg brewery the different way of writing the letter "S" in the old logo is permanently saved as a good object in the system in order to effectively rule out the rejection of the cases affected in future.  The same also applies to the lettering "GOLD" which is still under the logo of many a Fürstenberg crate.  "This teach–in function is definitely positive" says Mr Haag.  It carries out the parallel processing of differently designed crates of a brand and "helps to remove those which are faulty at the same time leaving those which are somewhat older but still good." The option of manually adapting the precision of the inspection when required is also useful:  "This makes it possible for us to react flexibly and for example to say – we want to be a little stricter today".

With that the HEUFT LGX meets the specific requirements which the "Fürstlich Fürstenbergische Brauerei" places on its crate pool.  "The system is very good" confirms the Technical Manager and "we are very satisfied" with its performance.