www.vision-systems.com VISION SYSTEMS DESIGN September 2015 27
3D vision helps robots
apply labels to produce
3D vision and industrial robots combine to label fruit products
For many fresh produce wholesalers and supermarkets, the application of price and promotional labels represents a signifcant effort
in manpower and a substantial outlay in expense. Hence, many of the high volume lines
used to apply labels to fruit such as apples and
oranges have been automated for many years.
For lower volume products such as pomegranates or melons, however, it is a different
story. The sheer physical diversity of such products, and the associated complexities of dealing
with them, has, until now, remained a process
where labels are manually applied before they
are subsequently repackaged.
Recently, however, Loop Technology
(Dorchester, England; www.looptechnolo-
gy.com) has developed an adaptable vision-based robotic system that is capable of affxing
labels to such produce. Using a 3D camera, the
system identifes the produce moving through
the cell, prints labels of different shapes and
sizes and applies them to a specifc location
on the surface of the produce using a pair of
industrial robots (Figure 1).
Boxes of produce loaded onto a conveyor frst
pass through a vision enclosure where target
fruit are identifed. Labels
are printed as required to
minimize wastage, and the
robots optimize the pick-
ing and placing of labels for
effcient operation. The two
robots cooperate to share the workload to apply
single or multiple labels to the fruit.
The automated labeling system is controlled
by a Dell (Round Rock, TX, USA; www.dell.
com) PC with an Intel (Santa Clara, CA, USA;
www.intel.com) Core i7 processor which runs
a Human Machine Interface (HMI), machine
vision and machine sequencing software. The
PC is interfaced to a CX
series embedded PC from
Beckhoff (Verl, Germany;
provides real-time control
of the system, while a PLC
Once containers of fruit have been loaded
into the automated labeling system, they are
moved from a roller conveyor to a driven con-
veyor belt under the control of the Beckhoff
CX series embedded PC. The boxes of produce
then enter the vision enclosure where a Senz3D
time of fight camera from Creative (Singa-
nates the produce with a modulated infrared
light source and captures the refected light.
Data from the camera are transferred over a
USB 2 interface to the multi-core PC where
Ross Horrigan, Software
Manager, Loop Technology,
Figure 1: Using a 3D time of fight camera, Loop Technology has developed a vision-based
robotic product labeling to automate the labeling of produce.