SICK has unveiled a new Smart Box Detection system for its deTec4 Safety Light Curtain, aiming to ensure operator safety and a continual and efficient output on packaging lines.

The Smart Box Detection system is designed to enable the continuous and safe material flow of cartons or cuboid-shaped goods at the entry or exit points of protected areas. It uses intelligent pattern recognition to detect cuboid objects and differentiate them from human operators, which is said to prevent unnecessary interruptions and stoppages at the in- and outfeeds of packaging machinery.

Maintaining a light safety curtain at all times, the system does not require an external machine controller to provide it with signals, according to SICK. It is also said that the system negates the need for muting sensors and tunnel guards; the former is expected to cut down on space, maintenance, and the potential for damage, while the latter reportedly reduces the maximum distance to a hazard by more than half.

Dip switches integrated into the SP2 system plug are thought to ensure the quick and easy configuration of the system without the need for software or a laptop. Additional teach-in, programming, mounting, and wiring are also not required, the company claims, as each system can be configured to meet the needs of the application and the solution is able to detect objects of various heights and lengths.

“Installing a SICK Smart Box Detection system can improve productivity significantly, which will be welcomed both by machine builders and end users in a wide range of industrial and logistics facilities, e.g. in secondary packaging lines, or on the outfeed of rejected boxes,” said Martin Kidman, market product manager for Safety Solutions at SICK UK. “There are also both cost- and space-saving benefits from installing Smart Box Detection. Machine designers can build new machinery in a smaller footprint, while production teams can remove tunnels, or eliminate the need to keep an inventory of muting sensors, for example.

“Using SICK’s innovative deTec4 safety light curtain means boxes can also be measured, if needed, without additional sensors by transmitting beam data over IO-Link. The user could then combine with speed data to calculate volume. Diagnostic information accessed via either Near Field Communications or IO-Link makes it easier for operators to investigate machine stoppages in real time, as well as making informed service decisions for predictive machine maintenance.”

Last year, SICK designed a new Roller Sensor Bar for quick and easy installation, high sensing performance, and preventing conveyor jams and unplanned downtime in packaging, parcel sorting, and logistics hubs.

Similar developments include Ishida’s X-ray inspection system with combined sensor and image processing technology to detect foreign bodies inside packaging and increase productivity rates; and EyeC’s ProofRunner Wide Web inspection system for flexible packaging in wide web applications.