Krys Beal

It’s often challenging for packaging system managers to identify and address mechanical issues or other potential problems throughout the packaging process, particularly for systems that handle thousands of units per hour. While many operators might shut down these systems to determine what the issue is and its source, this can culminate in costly downtime with minimal productivity.

However, the use of high-speed cameras can help avoid system shutdowns and downtime, while accurately identifying mechanical problems and further optimizing your systems. The key is finding the right camera that can make it easy to analyze your systems. Here are some of the technical details about industrial high-speed cameras, along with some of the considerations you should take into account when looking for one to implement in your facility.

What Are High-Speed Digital Cameras?

These cameras are used as diagnostic tools that assist researchers and engineers analyze high-speed packaging processes and others. They capture a sequence of images recorded at high frame rates, playing them in slow motion to enable viewers to see and measure events that occur too quickly for the unaided eye to see.

High-speed cameras are a lot more effective than standard cameras, with the ability to capture images at speeds of anywhere between 500 and 3,000 frames per second. At 500 fps, you see about 17 images for each one that would normally appear in footage captured at the standard 30 fps. At 3,000 fps, you can see 100 images per standard video frame. This allows for maximum precision when recording processes of any kind to identify any issues in packaging systems.

How High-Speed Cameras Can Improve Packaging Operations

High-speed cameras are crucial in today’s fast-paced packaging systems and other types of production lines. It’s both inexpensive and easy to use high-speed cameras to accurately identify specific issues and understand how a system is functioning. Unlike cameras that capture images at slower speeds, high-speed cameras can capture details that 30 fps can easily miss. Many issues in packaging systems may only occur in a fraction of a second, making high-speed cameras necessary to see what the specific problem is in many cases.

In many instances, high-speed machine processes occur within 100 milliseconds, which is 1/10 of a second, making it necessary to have recording equipment that can capture these crucial moments. A standard camera operating at 30 fps would only be able to capture three frames within that period, potentially missing any inefficiency or error that occurs at any point.

Images slowed down from 30 fps also tend to be jerky, making it difficult to analyze footage closely when checking for errors. A high-speed camera can help packaging system managers avoid these issues, making it easier to address any inefficiencies or mechanical problems in packaging machinery.

Applications for High-Speed Video Cameras

Apart from packaging system processes, high-speed cameras are also used for equipment design, research, testing, or production in many different industries, including:

  • Aerospace
  • Appliances
  • Automotive
  • Food and beverages
  • Can manufacturing
  • Electronic components
  • Machine tools
  • Metal stamping
  • Engines and motors
  • Paper products
  • Plastics
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Textiles
  • Text instruments
  • Sporting goods
  • Research facilities

Each of these applications uses high-speed cameras in many cases to analyze, measure, and understand their processes for a wide range of fast-paced equipment.

Processes That Use High-Speed Cameras

While there are many different uses for high-speed cameras in many industries, there are four main processes that use them, including equipment design for new mechanisms, equipment modification or pre-shipment shakedown. They’re also used for researching in the fields of biology, combustion, biomechanics, fluid dynamics, and wind tunnels. Some applications also use them for materials testing, in which they are used to analyze and measure fracture, penetration, impact, vibration, shock, or stress.

In the case of packaging, high-speed cameras are primarily used for machinery diagnostics and general troubleshooting, helping determine the appropriate steps to take regarding maintenance and repairs.

Technical Considerations

When selecting a high-speed camera for a packaging system, one of the first things you should consider is the necessary speed. You should also consider that some speeds might be too fast for what you need.

Once you’ve considered the speed you require for a high-speed camera, resolution is the next consideration. If you require a lot of storage space, you’ll want to select a camera that has the smallest resolution. However, if storage space isn’t an issue, you may want to consider a camera with a higher resolution for increased clarity of footage.

After making a choice regarding both speed and resolution, the next decision will revolve around the type of camera and control interface you need. Speed and resolution will help narrow down camera selection, but there are still many different interfaces to choose from following those decisions. Consider whether you’ll want to interface the camera with a computer on a full-time basis or if you’re going to using it out in the field, requiring maximum portability and simplicity.

Creating a Smoother Operation with Reliable Cameras

Once you have selected the best high-speed camera option for your application, it’s time to implement it in your packaging system and use it to optimize operations. Without a camera, you’re far more likely to miss certain inefficiencies and other issues that are preventing your systems from performing optimally. Utilizing cameras can help ensure you’re able to see how your systems are operating, and can assist you in determining how to further increase efficiency. You may be surprised by the problems that a high-quality camera reveals when incorporating it in machine inspection.

You’ll see a huge difference in your packaging system’s performance if you properly make use of a high-speed camera when analyzing equipment. If you need assistance in the selection and training for the use of high-speed cameras in your facility, you may want to contact experts who can help you find what you need. Ultimately, with the right camera, you’ll be able to more effectively control your packaging processes and make sure that your systems consistently get you the results you want.

Krys Beal is part of inside sales and marketing department at E-PAK Machinery, Inc.