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Inspection of large water containers: we discover the innovative automatic solution of FT System
Inspection of large water containers: we discover the innovative automatic solution of FT System

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01 July 2021

Inspection of large water containers: we discover the innovative automatic solution of FT System

Reduced dimensions and simplicity of integration in line: we talk about it with Lorenzo Narcisi, FT System project development leader

The use of large, rigid plastic containers (jugs) for the distribution of mineral water with the option to return the empty one is one of the systems implemented by companies in order to reduce the amount of plastic released into the environment.


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However, it is important to guarantee that the returned empty jug to be refilled is free from contaminants and foreign objects and is perfectly intact in order to avoid water contamination and product leakages. FT System, part of Antares Vision, has developed a new in-line solution that can inspect the integrity of the jug, check for any foreign objects and whether the jug has been misused.

FT System innovative automatic solution for Inspection of large water containers

We talk about this with Lorenzo Narcisi, Project Development Leader of FT System, in charge of the development of the machine for in-line inspection of water jugs.


Why has FT system decided to develop a new automatic bottle inspection solution for the distribution of mineral water? What are the motivations and possible inspections?

Users return the jugs to bottling companies for them to be refilled. This has environmental benefits, however, in order to ensure product hygiene and safety, bottling companies must perform suitable quality controls. The company must make sure that the said jug isn’t damaged, hasn’t been misused and doesn’t contain any foreign objects. The solution that we have designed can check at line speed, for the presence of breakages, such as holes or cracks, contaminants, even traces, by means of electro-chemical sensors and check for the absence of foreign objects at the bottom of the jug. We are thereby able to prevent product leakages caused by breakages or cracks and guarantee jug safety, quality and hygiene to the user.


Detecting contaminants is important in order to guarantee consumer safety. What kind of substances can you detect?

The jugs may have been misused as containers for waste materials or liquids other than water. We don’t know what substances or products the jugs might have contained. For this reason, we have identified target molecules that are representative of certain categories of substances, which, if determined, are indicative of jug misuse. The substances that we can identify are: diesel oil, and more generally, fuels, paints, cigarettes, ammonia or detergents. We extract air from inside the jug and this enables us to be very precise and accurate in determining the presence of contaminants.


What are the innovative features of FT System’s inspection solution? And what other quality controls can be added in-line in addition to those mentioned above?

We have researched and developed, together with our customers, the inspection machine for jugs and this has enabled us to introduce important, innovative production features. The first point is space: leakage and contaminant analysis is carried out in points very close to one another, occupying very little space compared to other competitive solutions. The inspection machine is also placed in the existing straight belt, without needing to move the outfeed belt sideways with regard to the infeed belt. The data management interface system is equipped with modern protocols, such as OPC UA, which enable us to communicate the analysis and rejection statistical data to the in-line supervisor.  In addition, the solution is fully modular to adapt to different line speeds and to include other inspections, such as control of the side walls, the neck-finish (part of the jug that can be easily damaged during filling and capping positioning operations) and label in terms of presence/absence, positioning, code verification, lettering, and branding.


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