Detection of quality failures.

Processed meat products

Sausages, nuggets and other products such as hamburgers, are made with minced meat and are seasoned with spices and condiments to improve their flavor. They differ in the types of meat used, the methods of preparation, and the additional ingredients added to them.

In the production of processed meat products, it is common to dump different pieces of meat from hoppers into large mincing machines. During the production process of the raw material, or during the process of transporting the pieces of meat in trolleys, occasionally a foreign body may fall into the product that is destined for the mincer, so it is convenient to inspect at least superficially for possible presence of foreign bodies.

Minced meat is sometimes stored in plastic bags, which are removed prior to dumping the minced meat into the mixer, where it is mixed with other additives, an operation in which contamination from the outside is also provided.

Usually the mixers do not have an upper protection cover, to allow inspection of the kneading process, and to facilitate the addition of additives to the dough.

Therefore, it is during the chopping and kneading process that product contamination usually occurs.

The most common contaminants that we can find are:

Metallic foreign bodies (nuts, screws, springs, staples,…)
Plastic film pieces (product bags, operator aprons, gloves, protection films…)
Solid plastic pieces (fragments of pallets, conveyor belts, trays, ear tags, seals,…)
Pieces of wood (remains due to pallet breakage)
Pieces of paper/cardboard (labels, masks, gauze,…)
Bone pieces (due to failures during slaughter in the cutting room)

Metallic foreign bodies can be detected by  a metal detector, and in the case of contaminants of great size or density very different from the product, they can be detected by X-rays, but the rest of the contaminants can only be detected by superficial visual inspection.

The technique that is usually used to detect this type of defect is the comparison of color tones, since the vast majority of contaminants contrast by hue with the mass of the meat.

In the event that shadows are generated in the field of view or the tones are similar, by comparing tones it is not possible to detect certain contaminants, so artificial intelligence can be used to improve inspection efficiency.

Sausages are usually packaged in a thermoformed tray made of flexible film. The objective of the packaging is to prevent bacteria from contaminating the products, in order to guarantee their quality. Packaging can also play an advertising role and attract the attention of consumers. At all stages of manufacturing, circulation, sales and consumption, that is, from the factory to the consumer, the products always come into contact with different possible sources of contamination, so the packaging must prevent bacterial contamination and preserve the properties of the product. until the best before date.

In the case of sausages, these are usually packaged sliced in thermoformed trays with rigid film. In another article we will talk about the usual quality defects during slicing and packaging of this type of product.

In the case of hamburgers, these are usually packaged in heat-sealed trays, so if you are interested in the packaging defects of this type of packaging, it is better to refer to the previous blog article.

Therefore, today we are talking about the usual quality defects in flexible tray packaging..

The most common quality defects that this type of packaged products have are usually the following:

  • Banding failure: Sometimes products are grouped in packages of several units, but during this process fewer units than expected may be packaged.
  • Labeling failure: Sometimes the label is not positioned in a suitable place, or there is an absence of it, or two of them, or the printed codes are wrong, or the pre-printing of this is wrong (the wrong reel has been loaded).
  • Failure to fit: Sometimes fewer units are placed in the box than expected. This type of detection is not always detectable by process scales.

At INNDEO&INSPECTRA we use different artificial vision equipment to detect defects in flexible heat-sealed trays.

The most effective equipment for the detection of defects in products derived from meat are:

– COMPACT VISION: Artificial vision system based on a “smart camera” for detection of simple defects in processes that do not take place very quickly (for example, to detect foreign bodies after loading a hopper with minced meat in a mixer). This type of solution has the advantage of being low cost and highly versatile.

AI-SORTER: Advanced artificial vision system based on a camera system with different lighting configurations, and a high-performance processing PC, for the detection of complex defects in processes that occur at high speed (for example, to detect faults in the number of packages wrapped, and product count in the box simultaneously) . This equipment has the advantage of being able to monitor online processes at high speed and apply image processing through online artificial intelligence functions.


THERMOSEAL INSPECTOR: for an inspection of both sides of the container, detection of welding failures, punctured containers and labeling failures of the containers analyzed individually. This type of equipment has the advantage of being able to inspect all the quality defects of the containers at very high speed, incorporating a rejection function.

In summary, the combination of artificial vision technology together with artificial intelligence (Deep Learning) offers a series of advantages that make it one of the most suitable and effective options for the detection of defects in this type of product.