Drives and Controls Magazine
Sensing system detects items with no gaps between them
Published:  06 January, 2014

Sick claims to have solved the problem of detecting and counting products reliably on production lines when there are no gaps between them.

Until now, it has usually been necessary to separate packages to count or detect them using, for example, photoelectric sensors. This often requires complex mechanisms on conveyor lines. Sick says that with its new patented system, called DeltaPac, this separation will no longer be needed.

The operating principle (illustrated in the video above) is based on the fact that the edge contours of objects cause changes in the reflective behaviour of their surfaces from one object to the next. The system uses four LED emitters and two distance-measuring receivers to sense these changes. Sick claims that it can detect object contours with radii from 1mm to 20mm and can identify up to 200,000 packages per hour at conveyor speeds of up to 3m/s. The operating distance is 30-40mm and detection is not affected by surface colours or direction.

The company predicts that the technology will open up new possibilities for the design of packaging machines. Separating and buffering systems will no longer be needed, cutting costs and improving space utilisation in machines.

Sick's DeltaPac system can differentiate products with no gaps between them

Collisions caused by falling packages will be reduced, Sick adds, and product flows stabilised. The DeltaPac technology could also reduce machine downtime, and prevent incorrect loading when grouping items, as well as avoiding the loss of quality caused by crashes.

The DeltaPac system is said to be easy to commission, with no on-site settings needed. Users can simply “mount, connect and detect”. IO-Link versions of the sensors will allow them to be configured remotely to suit the application.