Many breweries use whirlpool tanks to separate trub (sediment) from wort -- the liquid extracted during the brewing of beer after it has been boiled to extract the flavor and aroma from the hops. A timed rinse cycle sprays the whirlpool tank with water from internal nozzles to flush the trub from the tank.
If any trub is left behind, the quality of the next batch is compromised. Traditionally, after the rinse cycle, operators had two choices: assume that all the trub has been rinsed out of the tank, or take time to climb a ladder to the top of the tank and look through a sight glass to determine whether it has been.
Now, one US brewery has taken a different approach. It has replaced the existing sight glass on the whirlpool tank with one having a hydrophobic coating (to alleviate buildup of condensation) onto which it mounted a color video camera from L.J. Star (Twinsburg, OH, USA) which was then connected to a video monitor in the control room.
Because the camera was mounted where sun and heat from the whirlpool process could raise the temperature of the camera housing to more than 100C, it was placed inside a stainless-steel air-cooled housing.
Having installed the camera at its facility, operators there can now observe the process remotely and see when spray nozzles are clogged, which has saved significant time, water and product.
A full case study on the system is available on the L.J. Star web site here.
Recent items from Vision Systems Design that you might also find of interest.
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A vision system combines FireWire cameras and software to provide 360° inspection of beer kegs.
2. Vision-guided robotic 'bartender' serves drinks
Researchers led by professor Giovanna Sansoni at the Laboratory of Optoelectronics in the Department of Engineering at the University of Brescia (Brescia, Italy) have developed a vision-based robotic bartender that can serve customers different varieties of beer.
-- Dave Wilson, Senior Editor, Vision Systems Design