Introduction

  Broken and chipped finishes represent a danger for Customers because the Closer Machine Heads act on them, with the possibility to let fragments fall in the bottle, mixed with the product.  More, a chipped finish could cut the lips when drinking directly by the bottle.  An additional risk is that the bottle cannot be correctly and completely filled.  This last a consequence of the fact that bottles whose finishes are chipped cannot be correctly pressured by the Filler Machine Valves, immediately before filling phase

The term “finish” originates with the mouth-blown bottle production process where the last step in completing a finished bottle was to finish its lip. Today, the lip or finish is the first forming step in the bottle making process.  The finish is fully formed in the first “blank” mold which only pre-forms the remainder of the bottle body.   Completion of the bottles’ body shape occurs in the second “finishing” or blow mold. A variably thick strip or “string” of hot glass is added at or  immediately below the blowpipe removal point via a pontil rod or other tool as the bottle is rotated holding it by the base with either a pontil rod or a snap or snap-case tool. This applied hot glass, refired as necessary to keep it soft, is then manipulated with a significantly more technologically advanced “finishing tool” to form a wide variety of different finish types.    Broken and chipped finishes are common consequences of mishandling in the same bottling Line or in the Market.  They represent a danger for Customers because the Closer Machine Heads act on them, with the possibility to let fragments fall in the bottle, mixed with the product.    More, a chipped finish could cut the lips when drinking directly by the bottle. A final risk, one whose consequences have minor extent, is that the bottle cannot be correctly and completely filled.  This last a consequence of the fact that bottles whose finishes are chipped cannot be correctly pressured by the Filler Machine Valves, immediately before filling phase.   To prevent these inspection technology uses mainly light reflection and only in minor extent refraction.   


Operation Principle

Light in the visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum, generated by:

  • LEDs' matrices, today also in trichromatic and in colour adjustable versions,
  • strobo flashers,   

 pass thru an opaline diffusor. The diffusor equalises light luminosity across all of the field. In other words, allows to forget the original shape of the light source, a matrix of LEDs or a “U”-shaped strobo flasher gas discharge lamp. Light getting out is then compelled to pass thru a circular diaphragm and a further black colour circle.  The result is an annular ring of light whose diameter is approximately 80 mm.  

Human Finish inspection

 Human inspection of defective finishes is an illusion yet with open, not still closed, bottles. The only possibility for the Operator visible here to encounter a broken finish lies in the limited chance to recognise out coming foam, because of missing glass in a broken finish. This is one of those activities where an Empty Bottle Inspector shall always outperform human capabilities. SABMiller Plc, Colombia (  Tom Parker/OneRedEye/OneRedEye)



This ring of light then pass thru the glass of a 45º partial mirror reaching a system composed of a Fresnel lens, similar to the one visible in the figure below.   Fresnel lens is a circular-shaped diffraction grating. Then, light pass through a concentrating mirror, resulting in an highly focused ring of light on the external finish of the bottle.  An image of this ring is then reflected toward the 45º mirror.  This way,  the  same  beam results  projected  to  the front  lens o  the optics immediately  before  the camera.  





 Start defining what has to be the minimum amount of missing glass in a broken or fabric-defective finish, before to consider it “defective”.  2.0 cubic millimetres is a reasonable amount. Now start to control one-by-one, by mean of tens if EBIs' Finish Inspections over 5 billions of glass returnable bottles. After years, you’ll discover quantities with full statistical value. Defective finishes fluctuate in the range: (0.5 - 0.8) % (  SABMiller, Tom Parker-OneRedEye)




 Fresnel lenses are circular-shaped diffraction gratings, in our applications useful to enhance the contrast of the ring of light used as Finish inspection “measurement instrument” 


Finish inspection processed image of the ring of light.  Ring of light focused all around the external area of the finish

  Finish inspection processed image of the ring of light.  Ring of light focused all around the external area of the finish. 

A non-broken defectively produced finish emulating a broken 


One of such rings of light, as they appear later focused on the CCD- or CMOS-camera surface.  White coloured all pixels reaching top grey-ranges.  Blue and Green colours, referred to medium and lower greyranges. The finish is considered defective when the ring of light is not closed.  Special statistical algorithms, allow to recognizes as a correct finish, also those where the arc is fragmented, but the fragmentation distributed rather than concentrated.   Visible in the figure on right side also the inner finish, displayed as a couple of  symmetrical white colour arcs.

These last implicitly underline that a single Finish Inspection cannot control simultaneously outer and inner finish.  Inner Finishes' results checked with a defects’ detection ratio percentile < 50 % when Outer Finishes’ are > 99 %.    A comparison with the way Base Inspection detects the defects in the bottles’ bases, shows immediately a huge difference on the number of reflections: zero in the Base inspection and five in the Finish Inspection.  Each reflection has a “price”, in terms of an additional approximately > 8 % of electromagnetic energy lost.    After:

  • 5 reflections;
  • 4 refractions;
  • 1 diffraction (Fresnel lens);

only a minimum amount of em energy truly reaches the CCD-matrix.








 The zoom evidentiates the heavily scratched upper surface of the finish of a beer bottle.  The defect is so extended, so easy to detect, to imply possibly a Finish Inspection disabled at all in the Empty Bottle Inspector in the Bottling Line which produced this bottle





This, translating itself in visible negative effects, in terms of frequencies, higher than Base inspection for:


  • optics’ cleaning;
  • replacement of the strobo flasher lamp, where this is used as source of electromagnetic energy;
  • false rejects, due to rings of light which could not close themselves completely, emulating a broken finish.




 The only possibility for a Production Operator to encounter and separate out of the production flow those bottles whose finishes are broken, lies in the limited chance to recognise them thanks to out coming foam, because of missing glass in a broken finish














  A finish with upper flat surface.  A variety of finish inspected with techniques similar to those adopted for the crown cork finishes and a slightly different optic diagram 










 Crown cork finish inspection adopts visible light like an instrument. Visible light 100 million times more energetic than Infrared and 100 times less energetic than, i.e. the X-rays used for the Fill Level, Case and Crate Inspections




What Originates the Broken Finishes?


 Defective finishes originate by many different machines and packaging phases. As an example, the Crate Washer Machine rarely receives all due preventive maintenance and cleaning. An effect is that when its efficiency fall in terms of residuals’ removal action, objects may remain hidden into. Hidden where filled and labelled bottles have later to be introduced by the Crater Machine (   SABMiller plc, Poland) 


A Returned Crate Inspector. One of the many “plus” implicit in the investment required to control the empty washed crates are ready for stocking or for filling with new bottles, is the permanent reduction in the amount of broken finishes

Defective finishes are not only created out of the Beverage Bottling Line. Mishandling, also deriving by human action or Machinery malfunction, is one of the main causes for broken finishes. Mishandling deriving by mechanical or electrical malfunctions, poor maintenance or cleaning conditions of the:

  • Palletiser, 
  • Decrater, 
  • Crate Washer Machine,
  • Washer Machine, 
  • Closer, 
  • Crater, 
  • Palletiser.

  A Returned Crate Inspector. One of the many “plus” implicit in the investment required to control the empty washed crates are ready for stocking or for filling with new bottles, is the permanent reduction in the amount of broken finishes

Just to make an example, refer to the Crate Washer Machine visible here above. It is the typical machine nearly forgot by the staff attending the Beverage Bottling Line, simply because its function looks secondary with respect to others, like the Filler or the Labeller Machines. It rarely receives all due preventive maintenance and cleaning. An effect is that when its efficiency fall in terms of residuals’ removal action, objects may remain hidden.   Hidden where filled and labelled bottles have later to be introduced by the Crater Machine. If the Bottling Line has not a specific Electronic Inspector like the one on right side, devoted to the control of empty crates after they have been washed, it shall not be possible to prevent protruding finishes from being damaged by the upper layer of crates, in the Palletiser Machine.

 Defective finishes are not only created out of the Beverage Bottling Line. Mishandling, also due to human action or Machinery malfunction, is one of the main causes for broken finishes. Mishandling in the Palletiser, Decrater, Washer Machine, Closer, Crater and Palletiser. The image above shows a typical way to damage bottles, launching the crates (SABMiller, Nile Breweries, Uganda,   Dave Parry/One Red Eye)  


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