One of the technological innovations we utilize in our production lines to assure high quality is artificial vision. Do you want to know how we use it, and its overall advantages?
What is artificial vision?
Artificial vision basically consists of the acquisition of an image and its processing. But how is that an image can be processed by a computer, if computers only understand 0s and 1s (binary code)?
It is very simple. Each image is composed of pixels––from thousands (in VGA) to millions (in HD). Each pixel is a point on the screen. It may not be distinguishable on modern screens––that already have high resolution (HD or higher)––but you can notice it when you zoom into an image, and see that it is made up of millions of points.
Each pixel is made up of a value from 1 to 255 depending on the color of the pixel. The number of the pixel transforms it into binary code. A computer processes the images with this information.
But how is it that the computer can understand what happens in the image?
Now that we understand how a computer or smartphone understands images, we can understand artificial vision in a more meaningful way. By this, I refer to apps like Snapchat and Snow, with which we can use “filters.” These filters process an image or video. The program searches for characteristics within an image or video in order to adapt to the facial features of each individual––we call this “artificial intelligence.”
This is a very polemic term because it is the beginning of machines or robots that look like humans, and have thought processes that imitate neural networks. The principal objective is for machines to have the ability to learn and understand.
In classic programming, we give computers a series of instructions, and the computer executes only what we indicate in the program. If the design variables change, the computer will stop, waiting for instruction by a human, or lose the ability to continue executing instructions.
With artificial intelligence, this changes. The machine adapts and learns as the variables change, because it can introduce these new variables to its “neural system.”
However, our main topic is the processing of images. In our specific case, the program learns and takes on new characteristics and/or variables that is presented to it.
For example, for Snapchat and Snow videos, the first thing that the machine does is search your facial features through a collection of programmed facial features, and follows those instructions in order to create the filter.
How we use Artificial Vision at Casa Sauza
The concept of artificial vision has been used in the industry for some years now, and can be applied in two ways:
Artificial Vision applied to increase functionality
Based on the result of the analysis of artificial vision, the system realizes certain programmed actions.
For example: We use this for bottle placement. Each bottle has to be in a specific place in order for it to be ticketed. The artificial vision system searches for programmed characteristics, and places the bottle correctly.
Artificial Vision applied like a quality-inspector
It verifies that the characteristics of the product correspond to its specific quality regulations. If the product does not meet these requirements, it is rejected by the machine and sent for reprocessing.
For example: We use it as an inspection tool for our finished product––to check that each bottle has the correct tickets, the correct amount of liquid and a cap.
It is also useful for the traceability of our products because it checks for the registration of each QR code of the fiscal tag. With this registry, we can control that the fiscal tag matches the correct product.
Artificial Vision tools that we use in the tequila industry
Manufacturers are constantly developing better technologies: faster, smaller and with better tools.
This equipment takes information and, according to a program that we have developed, a microprocessor processes it into an image.
In actuality, there are many kinds of diverse tools. Once a search area is established and configured, we can use the tools to:
- Search for certain characteristics, similar to an image, that we download for the program. The program can then search by comparing and contrasting. We can configure the correlation (by similarity) and the angle at which a variation is allowed.
- Search for similar groups of pixels––that is to say-–search for points of the same color and number of pixels. It is possible to adjust the tolerance of color, and the number of pixels accepted accordingly.
- Bar code reading. The machine can read a barcode and save it within an archive. The archive can then be recuperated along with a description of the product and the time that the code was “read.”
- QR code reading that realizes the same function described above. Similar to bar code reading, QR code readings are saved to an archive than can then detect characteristics about the product (characteristics that may be similar to other products).
Benefits of using Artificial Vision
In our organization we were working towards improving bottle placement. This program alleviated the responsibility to manually place bottles. Before having access to artificial vision, we needed to have 2 people orienting bottles, which affected the velocity of the production line.
At Casa Sauza, artificial vision is used as a quality-inspector in regards to correctly ticketed bottles. Before artificial vision, we had personnel inspecting each individual bottle as it passed by on the production line––which did not guarantee that all points of inspection were satisfied. At the rate that our products are processed, it is impossible for the human eye to perform a completely thorough inspection. Human sight can become exhausted, and all points of each and every bottle cannot be checked at the speed of the conveyor belt. Without artificial vision, there was more implied risk of client-complaints.
This is how we assure quality at Casa Sauza
As mentioned earlier, we use these tools to inspect 100% of our products. Because quality is one of our priorities, we have qualified employees who ensure that our inspection systems are working correctly, and ensure the quality of our products.
With these inspections in order, we can guarantee that our products are delivered with complete compliance to regulations regarding caps, ticketing, amount of tequila, correct ticket placement, ticket-product likeness, and, within the national market, a ticket code with the correct reading and easy traceability.
Come and visit Casa Sauza and see for yourself how the modernization of our production processes delivers the purest tequila that you will find in the market.