Updating Label Detection System for Automated Beverage Production

Quality assurance issues were plaguing a bottling facility, as their current label detection system wasn’t catching missing or misapplied labels. E Tech Group was able to integrate three systems into one, allowing for more accurate detection and less missed bottles. 

The Project: Remedy the Output Bottleneck Caused by Missed Bottles

An internationally-distributed beverage production company wanted to upgrade their facility’s inspection station to check for missing body, back and neck labels on their bottles before shipping. Quality control was a growing concern and ensuring consistency in each shipment was a must. 

Their current label inspecting system wasn’t meeting expectations; imperfectly applied or missing labels were making their way through. This cost the client in time, waste and slowed-output, not to mention threatened consistency assurance in their packaging.

The Challenge: Integrating Three Systems into One on a Tight Timeline 

Our team started with a site visit to walk through the customer’s existing control system solution, helping them better understand current challenges and working to define the desired end result and deliverables. 

This exploratory review would uncover that we would not be implementing a single system, as was originally outlined in the proposal, but the integration of a new system while simultaneously supplementing the existing system and upgrading the PLC to tie everything together.    

The rigid production schedule standard in food and beverage automation would only allow for two days of downtime, each only 12 hours. This required all panels and hardware to be prefabricated before installation and perfect execution on a very truncated timetable. 

The numerous moving pieces would dictate the need for strict project management, frequent and open communication, and detailed documentation for any changes in schedule or equipment that might happen throughout the project. Without effective coordination between our automation team and the client, implementation of the new control systems could end up problematic.

The Solution: Build a Robust, Integrated Label Detection System

Coordination between teams translated to coordination between automation products as we pivoted from the original plan of single-system implementation. Instead, we brought together the existing Allen Bradley PLC (existing main panel), repurposed the Teledyne Taptone system that wasn’t providing the results they would like, and integrated the new Keyence label detection system to create one cohesive solution was a large undertaking.   

Once the decision was made to implement a Keyence label detection system, the E Tech Group team designed, built and oversaw the installation of the two control system panels that would house the Keyence systems. Both panels were installed close to the reject area after the automated labelers.    

Our team actively troubleshot the installation as they went because nothing like this had ever been attempted with the Teledyne product, and between the client and component manufacturers, there were differing opinions on how this should be set up. 

E Tech’s automation specialists were able to get the cameras working quickly, but getting them to interface with the Teledyne system wasn’t as easy. A missing trigger signal that would initiate a bottle with a bad label to be diverted was the culprit. Our team moved and reordered some components while repurposing Teledyne photo eyes that weren’t being used, tying them back into the Teledyne system at the same point the Keyence system was being tied in, providing the supplementary signal needed to get the desired results.  

Once the system was functioning properly, it was a matter of fine tuning. Our team would be on site, making sure any adjustments were made during planned downtime to not disrupt the client’s production schedule.  

Understanding the Scope of Work on this Process Integration Project 

The nature of this project required multiple efforts:


One generic drawing package was created that detailed the vision systems. An Engineering Information (EI) document package was provided, sufficient to allow for review of the proposed updates, installation by a qualified electrical contractor, and continued maintenance and support, by plant personnel, of the updated equipment, hardware, electrical panels, or controls.    


E Tech Group integrated the Taptone divert into the Keyence solution and the available PLC control system. The installation of the specified Keyence cameras and configuration was performed and tested. HMI screens were housed in one of the two panels that were supplied. This was the primary access point for the reject solution. 


One day for virtual readiness testing was included. A full test of the PLC and HMI was completed. Client and supplier representative(s) thoroughly reviewed the design, programming and commissioning schedule for the system being considered. A checklist was developed and used to identify the key aspects for each system that had been determined to be critical to the success of the installation and assessed the overall readiness. For programming updates, where possible, basic simulation was provided to show that the functionality of the updated system was unchanged. 


During commissioning, E Tech Group assisted in on site testing to prove the functionality of the reject system. The testing protocol matched the testing effort from the internal readiness testing. All test scenarios were communicated by Boston Beer prior to start of development. This testing was expected to be performed within one single downtime window. 


Electrical installation will be provided by a third party. The internal controller of the Taptone system and Keyence system controller will get tied back into the pre-existing PLC. Wiring for IO and power is included. 


One engineer was on site for installation and commissioning, which took one day for setup and commissioning took multiple part-days over the span of a week during planned downtime.  

  • Infrastructure/communication checks (PLC, HMI)  
  • Checking of all equipment IO (equipment level check only)  
  • Parameter/timing adjustments  
  • Operational checks of all system functions      
  • Keyence configurations  
  • Verify any old programs for each updated system are properly archived per site standards 

The Results: Adaptation and Communication Made for Smooth Execution 

Our team quickly adapted to the change in project parameters and developed, tested and implemented a prototype solution utilizing the selected technology.   

Originally planning to implement and test over two twelve-hour days, the team once again pivoted, this time to accommodate the facility’s bottling schedule. Our control system integrators were able to complete the implementation over several days while stopping the line for only brief periods. 

The onsite team ensured proper operation while the line was running, confirming the Keyence cameras rendered the correct decision and then had the reject signal sent to the Taptone system, verifying both systems were working properly together.   

Through open and clear communication, changes in equipment and time frame were received well by the client and the overall project was a good experience for all involved. The relationship between E Tech Group and the client was strengthened, providing future opportunities to work together.  

E Tech Group is a leading control system integrator serving clients across North America with customized automation systems that optimize the vital processes of their facility. Our engineers utilize their expertise, cutting-edge automation products, and a client-centered approach to help them optimize their operations now and in the future.