News Column

Researchers Submit Patent Application, "Inspection Unit", for Approval

July 3, 2014

By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Computer Weekly News -- From Washington, D.C., VerticalNews journalists report that a patent application by the inventors Preckel, Katrin (Gelsenkirchen, DE); Nick, Michael (Dortmund, DE); Wynckel, Werner Van de (Wolvertem, BE), filed on July 7, 2012, was made available online on June 19, 2014.

The patent's assignee is KHS GmbH.

News editors obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "Containers are generally not labeled directly. In most cases, containers are labeled indirectly, by applying preprinted labels.

"Conventional preprinted labels undergo a number of production steps. For example, labels are first printed with test strips from which the print quality of the entire quantity of goods of a cohesive production process, i.e. a batch, can be reliably inspected. It is only in a subsequent step that the individual labels are cut to size and applied to the bottle.

"Compared with glued preprinted labels, labels directly printed containers offer flexibility in their design options, for example in the case of rapid product changeovers, market launches and special editions or personalized product solutions. Directly printed bottles are produced 'just-in-sequence.' There are no intermediate steps in which errors for an entire series of products can be eliminated. Through the direct printing of containers, it is possible to vary the layout of the printing from container to container. As a result, any error analysis for detecting printing errors also has to be designed to accommodate changing design patterns.

"It would therefore be desirable to be able to locate a faulty container as quickly and efficiently as possible by way of a device for inspection and a method for inspection so as to then be able to remove the faulty container from the production process as quickly as possible."

As a supplement to the background information on this patent application, VerticalNews correspondents also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent application: "To this end the present invention proposes a method that facilitates a rapid inspection of a container during the production process. Also proposed are a corresponding device and a computer program product with program code stored on a computer-readable data medium that facilitates a realization of an inventively proposed method for the effective inspection of a container.

"The dependent claims respectively describe further details of possible embodiments of the proposed method and/or of the proposed device.

"According to one embodiment, an inventive device for the inspection of containers comprises at least one storage module for desired images, at least one optical recording unit for generating actual images of at least one container that is to be inspected, and an evaluation-and-control unit, with the evaluation-and-control unit comprising at least one main processor and at least one graphics card. The at least one graphics card comprises at least two graphics processors and supports graphics card programming for the swapping out of calculations, which are associated with a comparison of actual with desired images, to the graphics processors.

"GPGPU, which stands for 'General Purpose Computation on Graphics Processing Unit,' refers to the use of a graphics processor for calculations over and above its original remit. This could, for example, be calculations for technical or commercial simulations. In the case of parallel algorithms, a huge increase in speed over the main processor can be achieved in this way.

"GPGPU has emerged from the shaders of graphics processors. Shaders are hardware or software modules that implement certain rendering effects in 3D computer graphics. Their strength lies in the simultaneous performing of uniform tasks such as the rendering of pixels or the multiplication of large matrices. Since the growth in the speed of modern processors can no longer be achieved by increasing the clock pulse, pipelining is an important factor in achieving higher computing powers of modern computers. The advantage of using the GPU instead of the CPU lies in the greater computing power and the higher memory bandwidth. The speed is achieved mainly through the high degree of parallelism of the computing operations of the graphics processor.

"Tools available for the development of GPGPU-compatible programs are above all 'Open Computing Language' (OpenCL) and 'Compute Unified Device Architecture' (CUDA).

"OpenCL is an open standard that is available on many platforms, while CUDA is a proprietary 'framework' by Nvidia.TM. and can only run on that manufacturer's GPUs. To execute programs on a GPU, one needs a host program to control the flow of information. The GPGPU code formulated in a C-type language is usually compiled during run time on instructions from the host program and sent for further processing to the graphics processor, which then returns the computed data to the host program.

"According to a further embodiment of the inventive device, the at least one optical recording unit is an optical camera.

"According to a further embodiment of the inventive device, the at least one optical camera is a line camera.

"According to a further embodiment of the inventive device, the evaluation and control unit operates a plurality of optical recording units simultaneously.

"According to a further embodiment of the inventive device, the latter comprises at least one frame grabber for data acquisition and preprocessing of data of the at least one optical recording unit. The frame grabber is a hardware component used to trigger the at least one camera or optical recording unit. In case of triggering by the processor, there is a loss of quality of the generated image at high sampling frequencies. The advantage of the aforementioned frame grabber, as compared with triggering by the processor, is that there are no delays due to processes executed in parallel and/or that these are avoided.

"According to a further embodiment of the inventive device, the at least one container to be inspected, and which has a feature to be inspected, moves along a traverse path that resembles the traverse path for generating the feature to be inspected.

"According to a further embodiment of the inventive device, the at least one optical recording unit and a movement of the container in the device are synchronized.

"According to an embodiment of the inventive method, for the inspection of containers, image data of at least one container to be inspected is first captured as actual images by way of at least one optical recording unit of an inspection unit, and sent to an evaluation-and-control unit of the inspection unit, which then compares the actual images with desired images. The evaluation-and-control unit comprises at least one main processor and at least one graphics card, with a comparison being made of actual with desired images on the at least one graphics card, and with calculations associated with the comparison being effected in parallel by at least two graphics processors of the graphics card, and with the graphics card sending the evaluated data to the at least one main processor. The main processor then sends the evaluated data to a central controller that is connected to a handling/rejection unit.

"In a further embodiment of the inventive method, actual images and desired images, in particular image formats of different image dimensions, are matched, in particular one-dimensionally, as well as two-dimensionally stretched, compressed, displaced, equalized, distorted, and subsequently superimposed.

"In an embodiment of the inventive method, color values of actual images are determined and learned by the evaluation and control unit, and desired color values are converted to actual color values. The background to this is that by converting the RGB to CMYK image data, the color space of the original image is corrupted. The color space is also corrupted by reading in the image data by means of an optical recording unit while using at least one lighting unit, in particular one that uses white LED standard light. It is therefore an advantage if the system generates conversion rules of actual and desired color values.

"In an embodiment of the inventive method, hue processing is applied on actual and desired images for color offset detection.

"In an embodiment of the inventive method, actual images and desired images are divided up into a grid and one or more grid elements of the actual image are each compared with the analog grid element/elements of the desired images by one of the at least two graphics processors of the graphics card.

"A further aspect of the invention is a computer program product with program code means which are stored on a computer-readable data medium in order to perform all steps of the method described herein when the computer program is executed on a computer or corresponding central processing unit.

"A further aspect of the invention is the use of the inventive method in which the direct printing of a container is inspected immediately following the printing process.

"It goes without saying that the features set out above and still to be explained below can be used not only in the indicated combination as the case may be but also in other combinations or in isolation without departing from the scope of the present invention.

"Further details and advantages of the invention arise out of the following descriptions of embodiments of the invention and the corresponding drawing.

"The invention is schematically represented by an embodiment example and two drawings, and is described in detail below with reference to the drawings.


"FIG. 1 schematically depicts the layout of a direct printing machine.

"FIG. 2 schematically depicts an embodiment of an inventive inspection unit."

For additional information on this patent application, see: Preckel, Katrin; Nick, Michael; Wynckel, Werner Van de. Inspection Unit. Filed July 7, 2012 and posted June 19, 2014. Patent URL:

Keywords for this news article include: KHS GmbH.

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Source: Computer Weekly News

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