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Home > Applications Blog > Unlocking the Unknowns of Industrial Sensing

Applications Blog

Unlocking the Unknowns of Industrial Sensing

Tags: Industrial food sorting optical sensing Applied Spectral Knowledge processing process monitoring

Nov 15, 2018

How Applied Spectral Knowledge Delivers Decisive Results

image-food-beverage-1-480x318

Navigating today’s industrial landscape is an ongoing challenge for manufacturers, with dynamic regulatory issues, emerging technologies and global competition placing a premium on innovation and creativity.

 

As a result, manufacturers seek new and better ways to manage their supply chains, reduce waste and off-specification product, and increase production yields. For some, even small savings and minor process improvements can be the difference between achieving success and building a strong brand or merely surviving and being an afterthought.

That’s where optical sensing solutions like spectrometers, cameras and multispectral sensors come in. Ocean Optics offers robust, scalable sensing tools and deep application knowledge, design and manufacturing expertise to help customers unlock the unknowns of industrial applications. Machine learning and custom algorithm development capabilities add another layer of insight.

 

Why Choose Optical Sensing for Industrial Processing?

For the uninitiated, spectroscopy is the study of how light interacts with matter. Spectral measurements involve shining light onto or through a sample and capturing a spectrum that shows the wavelengths of light removed by the sample through absorption and scattering. With information on how specific wavelengths of light interact with samples on a process line, manufacturers can identify samples in real time through a spectral fingerprint or determine the chemical composition and concentration of the components.

Inline monitoring of industrial processes enables manufacturers to manage production from raw materials to finished products. Optical sensing measurements can be made at critical stages throughout the process, allowing for quick intervention when parameters go beyond specified ranges. A more tightly controlled process leads to less waste and more consistent product quality. 


Spectroscopy is well suited for industrial environments, where a wealth of information can be derived from instrumentation that monitors raw stock, processes and finished goods. Non-contact, non-destructive spectral measurements are easily deployed across a production line for process monitoring and control in real-time. Custom imaging systems can be integrated into process setups to extract high-contrast spectral information at specific visible and infrared wavelengths. 

 

Key Optical Sensing Applications in the Industrial Sector

  • Color measurements to ensure uniform product appearance
  • Consistency of glass or other coated products during the coating process       
  • Detection of defects in finished goods
  • Digital display quality and consistency
  • End-point detection for monitoring and controlling semiconductor processes
  • Identification of contaminants and adulterants
  • Identification of inbound raw materials and quality assurance of products
  • Light intensity, color and quality measurement
  • Monitoring of critical process parameters like oxygen, pH and moisture content
  • Sorting and grading of products including fruit and vegetables
  • Testing and qualification of samples

 

There’s more. Flexibility in the selection of detectors, light sources and sampling optics allows for deeper implementation of instrumentation into process flows, and makes it much simpler to optimize setups for multipoint sampling and redundant sensing.

Also, digital tools like artificial intelligence and machine learning can be applied to massive data sets or used for complex spectral analysis, providing users with real-time insight into sample quality, authenticity and other criteria.

 

Measurement Challenges in Industrial Environments

In challenging industrial environments, with round-the-clock process lines and often harsh operating conditions, optical sensing adds real-time process monitoring and control. Maintaining accurate and repeatable data requires smart, rugged instrumentation that can be seamlessly integrated into the existing process line.

Circumstances that can affect measurements, such as wide temperature swings and the presence of dust and dirt, are addressed through rugged, industry-specific instrument design. The availability of inline process monitoring spectroscopy solutions eliminates the need to spot check product offline.

Designing and implementing the optimum sampling interface is also critical to process line monitoring. For example, your choice of a sampling accessory for absorbance depends on various factors. Among the criteria to consider are the sample media (liquid or gas); the optical density of the sample; and whether the measurement will be made inline, at-line or off-line. For measurements in a process stream, you’ll likely need a transmission dip probe or flow cell that can be immersed in the stream.

Other scenarios may suggest different components and methods. For example, with inhomogeneous samples such as grains and feed, “dynamic” sampling is used. Dynamic sampling is a technique where rotational or linear motion is used to measure an average (representative) signal. This removes localized variance from the results, improving measurements.

Another consideration in industrial environments is sample availability – i.e., to create a useful correlation between spectra, three important elements are necessary:

  • Enough samples from which to make meaningful correlations
  • Sufficient variability within those samples
  • Ground truth (direct observation) of the sample parameters (which often requires expensive lab testing)

With optical sensing tools and insight from Ocean Optics, customers will be able to develop algorithms to derive quality, grading and other parameters from their data.

 

Spectral Solutions for Industrial Applications


Ocean Optics offers a range of modular spectroscopy solutions to solve measurement challenges and provide answers, regardless of the environment. Compact spectrometers and spectral sensors, multispectral cameras and chemical sensors are ideal for inbound inspection of raw materials, deployment on a production line for process monitoring or for use in quality assurance labs or at-line testing. Integration options range from individual spectroscopy components (spectrometers, light sources, sampling accessories) to subsystems and turnkey solutions including custom software or drivers to communicate with production equipment. Algorithm development and machine learning provide another level of insight.

 

Ocean Optics at a Glance

 

Technologies

  • Spectrometers, multispectral cameras and sensors
  • Light sources, fiber optics and accessories
  • Software and advanced analytics (algorithm development, chemometrics, machine learning)
  • Digital tools (cloud deployment)

 

Capabilities

  • Design partnership from concept to complete measurement solution
  • Global, ISO-certified manufacturing operations
  • Applied spectral knowledge – multi-discipline, in-house expertise across thousands of applications

Industrial Application Areas

  • Biomedical
  • Consumer Goods
  • Environmental
  • Food & Agriculture
  • Lighting & Illumination
  • Safety & Security

Service and Support

  • Application Services
  • Calibration Services
  • Lab Services (consultation, feasibility studies, experiment design)
  • Global Sales & Support (USA, Europe & China)

 

Modular spectroscopy components are reliable and robust, with excellent performance in even the harshest environments. Typical sampling configurations include non-contact measurements of surfaces, flow cells to measure slip streams and dip probes placed directly into the process stream, enabling real-time data on process conditions and parameters. Spectrometers designed for process monitoring have industrial connections and a range of communication protocols to interface with industrial equipment. Today’s spectral systems perform accurately and reliably, providing data integrity for traceability and quality assurance to meet process analytical technology requirements.

 

Ocean: Solutions for Industrial Applications

 

Challenge

Solution

Result

Food sorting machinery supplier invests in new tools to deliver faster date fruit sorting and grading

Spectral system that “sees” inside dates to determine moisture level and machine learning to predict date quality

 

Automated system that improves date quality and streamlines sorting processes

 

Manufacturer of fuel testing systems seeks more accurate test methods than existing visual techniques

Full system solution including robust hardware and software, plus instrument design expertise

Industry standard-setting device to determine color and haze (cloudiness) in fuels

 

Instrumentation maker seeks reliable collaborator to develop new system for particle analysis

Spectrometer subsystem for Raman analysis with laser, optics and software, plus intensive, multi-disciplinary engineering expertise

Powerful new particle analyzer for complex particle characterization problems in pharma and materials

 

Maintaining part-to-part color quality with minimal variation in high volume manufacturing requires accurate, real-time measurement tools

Ruggedized spectral reflectance system with non-contact sampling, integration capabilities and color matching expertise

Improved color and quality consistency of material finish for consumer electronics products