Using vision systems for trace ability is a very powerful solution to current carcass tracking problems, and we have been harnessing that with our Trolley Vision® system, but it isn’t as simple as stuffing a camera into an industrial plant and assuming that it will work without any outside aid. What happens when that vision is blocked by something?
Our Trolley Vision® analyzes an encoded pattern of holes drilled into each trolley’s strap. This works exceptionally, but because of certain regular plant processes, these holes can be blocked. One particular process that can have this effect is the oil baths that trolleys receive regularly.
Trolleys are submerged in oil regularly so that they roll smoothly and are protected from things like rust since they are often made from metals that aren’t rust-proof. When the small holes in the trolley are submerged, oil tends to stick in the holes because of its high viscosity. This can make it more difficult to see through the holes when they reach the Trolley Vision® camera, even if a back light is used.
We knew this was going to be an issue in most plants, so we added a component to the Trolley Vision® system. Initially, this was a blower which would blast each trolley with air to remove excess oil in the holes. However, this couldn’t be the ultimate solution because the oil was not controlled as it was removed and could end up on carcasses. Even if the oil was food grade, we thought it would be better to avoid that scenario entirely.
The next option was to use a suction system, which proved to be the better idea. This would remove the oil like a vacuum, and a hose would direct it somewhere where it wouldn’t get on any future food products. After being cleaned, these trolleys would proceed past the camera and back light which would send that image to an interface where the software would automatically determine the ID of that trolley.
Every day brings challenges in the industry, but with the right systems and proper installation, solutions such as Trolley Vision® can easily accomplish trolley tracking where other systems fail.