Comparison of Linear & Rotary EBI


Rotary EBI

The Empty Bottle Inspectors of the past were always and only Rotary Machines. The industries which first started to design and produce them and those which adopted them, were all US-based and specialized in the production of glass bottles.   They were born to check, one by one, all produced bottles rejecting the defective, before to of their resale to Food and Beverage Bottling Companies.   In that epoch, the only inspections were mainly mechanical. The only truly electronic one devoted to the detection of broken finishes. 


The inspection starwheel of a Rotary Empty Bottle Inspector in a legacy Machine.  Visible a HV strobo flasher illuminating bottles' finishes,  the Finish inspection CCD camera.   The advantages of the rotary solution are felt in two special cases: extremely high acceleration speed (72000 bhp) and drop-like non-cylindric bottles’ shapes  




A Vendor of Labeller Machines, yet recognized decades ago for this type of Bottling Machinery, had the idea to use the body of one of its standard Labellers, replacing the labelling stations around the labeller central carousel with CCD-camera equipped controls for the external sidewall inspection.

This way, Labeller's tulips and rotary plates started to be used to rotate the bottles, exposing their entire 360º external sidewall development to CCD-cameras.  A Japanese company, in partnership with the mechanical Labellers' Vendor, contributed the Optoelectronics’ hardware and algorithmic know-how.  Software and hardware necessaries for this transformation.  What was until then a Labeller Machine, say something strictly mechanical, where the entire automation was purely electromechanical (relays, contactors and timers) started to appear as an electronic powerhouse.  The standardization occurred after 1990 presents Rotary EBIs as they can be seen still today: their common structure implies an infeed worm with trigger and infeed checks.  Infeed controls, with photoelectric switches protecting the EBI, preventing the entrance of fallen, inclined, broken bottles, foreign, plastic capped, metal capped or too high bottles. 

  Over 60000 bottles-per-hour no Linear EBI solution exist. Only Rotary EBIs guarantee the high speed inspection of special bottle designs, like those on right side, thanks to a firm handling by metal fingers of hardened steel materials   






























A first rejection star wheel exists, purportedly, right in the EBI entrance. A rejection starwheel, immediately later, to reject these bottles. Later bottles are passed to a central carousel devoted to external sidewall inspection where bottles are revolved by rotary bases. The following, named Inspection Starwheel, where base, finish and residual liquid checks are performed.  

Rejection of the defective bottles encountered in the carousel and starwheel, by mean of a following rejection starwheel, with two rejects out feeds toward:

  • Washer Machine infeed;
  • automatic gravity destruction;
  • accumulation, for a further final Operator control and sorting toward destruction, selection in crates, or Washer Machine.


plus, the Production out feed, toward the Filler Machine.

Today, the range of inspections encountered in the Rotary EBIs are:

  • Spots and other visible defects, on all of the external surface of glass and PET Returnable (PRB) bottles;
  • Presence of foreign opaque objects in the base of glass (and, PRB) bottles;
  • Presence of foreign semitransparent objects in the base of glass bottles;
  • Presence of water-based liquids, into glass (and, PRB) bottles;
  • Presence of mineral oils or paint into glass (and, PRB) bottles;
  • Broken thread of returnable and non-returnable glass bottles;
  • Broken crown-cork finish of returnable and non-returnable glass bottles;
  • Opaque bodies over external and inner sidewall of returnable and non-returnable glass bottles;
  • Too-thin or too-thick infeeding bottles;
  • Closed infeeding bottles (metal or plastic caps);
  • Fallen infeeding bottles
  • Inclined infeeding bottles.
  • Mineral ring in the neck area of glass returnable bottles;
  • High scuffing of the external sidewalls of PRB and glass returnable bottles;
  • Bottle different than the one sorted and being produced;
  • Falsely triggered bottles: containers who lost their identity during transfer along conveyors and machines


More, some variants of the Rotary EBIs can host a particular inspection, named Contamination Inspection, capable to detect also extremely small amounts of dangerous liquids, i.e., hydrocarbons, contaminating glass or PRB bottles. 



Linear EBI



Rotaries have been progressively replaced by Linear EBIs. A few years after the Labeller Vendor created the Rotary EBI, as it is still today conceived. Another Vendor just a few hundredths kilometer far from the first, had another and particularly brilliant idea: the Linear EBI.   


  A linear Empty Bottle Inspector, here in a soft-drinks glass returnable bottling line
























Who is writing these notes installed and commissioned tens of Rotary EBIs before to start to do the same with Linear EBIs, devices featuring the same Optoelectronics. Impressive the difference in effort and times requested to startup what, in the end, are the same Expert Systems, and also conceived to accomplish the identical functions. 



An 80 CPUs powerhouse

To have an idea of Linear EBIs in their modern versions, it is shown in the figure below a model totalling ~80 CPUs, whose inputs and outputs are connected to:

  • 4 rejectors  
    • 1 in the infeed, 
    • 3 in the outfeed;
  • 8 CCD-cameras
    • 2 external sidewalls, 
    • 1 finish, 
    • 1 base opaque, 
    • 1 base translucid, 
    • 1 inner sidewall, 
    • 2 in the FinalView section, devoted to control the correct position of the Swing-Top;
  • 2 inductive sensors, to detect the correct position of the Swing-Top;
  • 10 trigger and reject verification LASER photosensors;
  • 1 infrared (IR) sensor, for mineral oils;
  • 1 bottle colour inspection;
  • 2 high-frequency (HF) residual liquid control sensors;
  • 1 infeed check for too-thin or too-thick infeeding bottles;
  • 1 infeed check for closed bottles (metal or plastic caps);
  • 1 infeed check for fallen bottles
  • 1 infeed check for inclined bottles.


 One of the greatest and most expensive linear Empty Bottle Inspectors today existing in the World: GROLSCH® at Enschede, The Netherlands (CARLSBERG® Group).  An image shot by our staff when installing and powering it.  It is used at a speed of 40000 bottles per hour and equipped with a wealth of 18 inspections. Its classification task is accomplished by mean of 4 rejectors: 3 in its outfeed (lower side in the image) and 1 in its infeed (upper side in the image). The total length of conveyors controlled by this Empty Bottle Inspector is ~14 meters.  Due to the full-optional configuration its total price resulted ~2000000 $






The out feed external side wall inspection of the linear EBI depicted above.  Illumination by mean of solid state strobe flashers and camera imaging of the passing bottles

totalling 18 independent inspections. ~14 meters is the total length of conveyors controlled by the 3 cascaded Shifting-Registers existing into this linear EBI.  

The image above shows how it looked like this historical EBI device during its installation, wiring and power-up phases, in Grolsch® Brewery (Carlsberg® Group) at Enschede, The Netherlands.  For a recent sight into this landmark Bottling Line, click here.  

Today, all EBIs are ASEBIs, acronym by the World Leader of Bottling for 'All Surface Empty Bottle Inspector' which, tens of years ago, codified what ensemble of standard defects, in what dimensions and positions, an EBI must be capable to show with what results, during a Quality Control test (“ASEBI Test”).

The Empty Bottle Inspectors, with the only exception of the Finish inspection, check glass bottles using optic refraction and diffraction. Meaning that defects are detected by the interferential effects experienced by the light passing through the bottles' glass:

  • base, 
  • inner sidewall 
  • outer sidewalls.   

 Outfeed external side wall inspection of the linear EBI depicted above.  Illumination by mean of solid state strobe flashers and camera imaging of the passing bottles. Also visible the first High Frequency residual liquid control and the Colour inspection


Then, the intrinsic Quality of the bottles is determinant to define the lower limit of the EBI performances later observed along years during production.  The figure below show this bold fact by mean of a practical example.  Visible the range of mixed bottles sizes and shapes a Bottler considered to be a single format.  Visibly different the segments AB and CD. A format the EBI had to check in full Quality.  High performances were negated by the very economic choice by the same Bottler to leave extremely dispersed the population of bottles.

foreign & standard bottles




 The wide range of bottles sizes and shapes a Bottler considered to be a format the EBI had to check in full Quality. High performances negated by the choice by the same Bottler to leave extremely dispersed the population of bottles





the Optoelectronics of the final insepction system visible in the out feed of the linear EBI depicted above

The figure below shows another example, this time referred to glass returnable bottles for tonic water.  They represent a sample extracted by a wider population of “properties” subject to successive EBI Binary Classification.

A very important subject, when designing an RGB Line with EBIs, is that of the recirculation of non-washable bottles in between EBIs and Bottle Washer Machine.  The figure below is referred to a Glass Returnable Line capable of > 52000 bph.   The Bottle Washer a > 60000 bph model.


Optoelectronics of the final inspection system visible in the out feed of the linear EBI depicted above 




Mix in the infeed


In this last example, the EBIs’ average reject for non-labelled bottles is 1.7 %.  That 1.7 %, in the reality, increases slowly but progressively until 5.5 %, due to the recirculation of non-washable defects.

Over 5.5 %, the automation of the conveyors, an Electronic Block with 5 motors, is no more capable to fill the holes in the flow of bottles toward the Filler Machine, implying necessity to decrease the Filler  speed to < 52 000 bph.   


 Bottle conveyors, in the infeed of Washer Machine in a Glass Returnable Line capable of > 52000 bph




Comparison of Rotary versus Linear solutions
















Comparing Rotary EBIs with Linear EBIs, they can be remarked the following advantages of the Rotaries:

  • extreme mechanical robustness: after a bottle crash, nearly no damages to EBI mechanical parts handling the following bottles;
  • possibility to inspect special bottle designs, thanks to a firm handling by metal fingers of hardened materials;
  • single Rotary EBIs can truly exist before an high speed 66000 bph Filler Machine, being capable to accelerate to 72000 bph to recover the gaps created by their own rejects. Without to experience any loss of containers in their Shifting-Register, guaranteeing always a specific and precise spacing in between bottles gripped by their Starwheels. Not mechanically affected by broken containers as Linears should on the opposite be.


Their 'minuses' originate mainly by the:

  • complexity of the mechanical handling of the bottles: centrifugal forces acting on bottles creates several criticities;
  • high Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), mainly because of mechanical spare parts;
  • time-consuming mechanical changeovers;
  • space they require in the Bottling Line;
  • conceptual complexity of their inner Shifting-Registers;
  • wearing of the bottles' external sidewall and finish.


 The Empty Bottle Inspectors Linear and Rotaries are, however hidden, the true 'processing powerhouses' of the Bottling Lines, featuring until 100 CPUs parallel processing billions of input statuses each one second















































Limiting Filler machine speed

A downside regards their speed. 72000 bottles-per-hour, is the maximum (peak) production speed, when accelerating to recover gaps in the flow of bottles. Gaps created by the rejection of the Linear EBI.  It is not absolutely the speed of the Filler Machine fed by the Linear EBI. Being always necessary to admit at least 20 % of recovery capability to the Linear EBI, the Filler Machine nominal production is then limited to exactly 60000 bottles-per-hour.  

And, a row of facts demonstrated that a Linear EBI feeding with returnable bottles a Filler Machine running at 60000 bottles-per-hour, shall experience and let you experience the long row of the negative effects of a fast wearing. Fast wearing of all the parts directly exposed to the passage of the bottles. These are not only the sponge conveyor belts, rather also several mechanics parts.    


60000 bottles-per-hour

Suppose your Filler Machine nominal speed is 60000 bottles-per-hour. The best option is a Linear EBI.  

To compensate the extra-wearing effects:

  • total rejects maximum hourly rate has to be limited to < 2.7 %.
  • keep in your store spare parts for the sponge belts;
  • keep in your store spare parts for all inspection protective glass panes;
  • limit to 20 % the recovery acceleration of the motor driving the Linear EBI;
  • increase the bottles’ accumulation between EBI and Filler Machine, by mean of an Electronic Block with several motors (six or more) or, much better, by mean of accumulation conveyors with capability to host over 1500 bottles;
  • your Maintenance staff have to be deeply trained regarding all parametric adjustments. A fast EBI requires frequent parametric resetting not only limited to the inspections' sensitivities


66000 bottles-per-hour

Suppose your Filler Machine nominal speed is 66000 bottles-per-hour. The best option is still a Linear EBI.  

To compensate the extra-wearing effects:

  • bottles have to be one-way only, preventing the frequent irregularities of the RGB;
  • total rejects maximum hourly rate has to be limited to < 0.5 %.
  • keep in your store spare parts for the sponge belts;
  • keep in your store spare parts for all inspection protective glass panes;
  • limit to 10 % the recovery acceleration of the motor driving the Linear EBI;
  • increase the bottles’ accumulation between EBI and Filler Machine, by mean of an Electronic Block with several motors (seven or more) or, much better, by mean of accumulation conveyors with capability to host over 2000 bottles;
  • your Maintenance staff have to be deeply trained regarding all parametric adjustments. A fast EBI requires frequent parametric resetting not only limited to the inspections' sensitivities


72000 bottles-per-hour

Suppose your Filler Machine nominal speed is 72000 bottles-per-hour. The best option is a Rotary EBI.  

To compensate the extra-wearing effects:

  • bottles have to be one-way only, preventing the frequent irregularities of the RGB;
  • keep in your store spare parts for the metal inserts of the inspection star wheel;
  • keep in your store spare parts for all inspection protective glass panes;
  • limit to 5 % the recovery acceleration of the motor driving the Linear EBI;
  • increase the bottles’ accumulation between EBI and Filler Machine, by mean of an Electronic Block with several motors (eight or more) or, much better, by mean of accumulation conveyors with capability to host over 2500 bottles. 
  • your Maintenance staff have to be deeply trained regarding all parametric adjustments.  A fast EBI requires frequent parametric resetting not only limited to the inspections’ sensitivities



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This website has no affiliation with, endorsement, sponsorship, or support of Heuft Systemtechnik GmbH, MingJia Packaging Inspection Tech Co., Pressco Technology Inc., miho Inspektionsysteme GmbH, Krones AG, KHS GmbH, Bbull Technology, Industrial Dynamics Co., FT System srl, Cognex Co., ICS Inex Inspection Systems, Mettler-Toledo Inc., Logics & Controls srl, Symplex Vision Systems GmbH, Teledyne Dalsa Inc., Microscan Systems Inc., Andor Technology plc, Newton Research Labs Inc., Basler AG, Datalogic SpA, Sidel AG, Matrox Electronics Systems Ltd.

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