Inndeo, a Spanish company founded in 2016, uses Specim’s hyperspectral imaging technology to improve the quality inspection processes and increase automation in the food industry. With hyperspectral imaging, they can detect contamination and defects in the production lines and characterize different food quality parameters.

From opportunity to an industrial partner

In 2014, Daniel Artal and Emilio J. de la Red found a business opportunity to integrate new technologies into quality inspection automation. They learned that the industry manages these duties with traditional manual labor and machine vision equipment with limited detection capabilities. So they founded Inndeo in 2016, and in 2018 started to work with hyperspectral imaging to detect more complex contamination problems.

Currently, they develop and manufacture machine vision solutions for the food industry under the INSPECTRA brand. With their approach of selecting the most appropriate technologies to solve their customer’s quality challenges and automate their production processes, they have gathered a clientele consisting of large Spanish food producers, especially in the meat sector.

Replacing manual labor and old equipment with sensor fusion

Today, food producers’ main fear is losing brand image above all the costs and repercussions of quality failures. Companies in the food sector use X-ray, metal detectors, and even manual operators for certain defects. There are some artificial vision machines on the market, but most of them cannot detect defects beyond a comparison of a color palette.

INSPECTRA’s advantage is their integration of different technologies, sensor fusion, to improve the detection capabilities. One of the benefits is the digitalized quality and production data from the production lines. This high amount of data allows companies to apply business intelligence (BI) techniques to rate their providers’ quality and detect production inefficiencies to improve productivity.

From advanced contamination detection to quality parameters

The main challenge was to choose the most suitable vision technology for each of their equipment to capture and process the images online.

Hyperspectral imaging allowed them to perform the most complex contamination detection outside the visible light spectrum. Like melted grease in the heat-sealed area of packages, it goes undetected by the human eye and other inspection technologies.

“The main reason we decided to implement hyperspectral imaging technology in our equipment was that no other technology was able to detect particular contamination and defects in the products and also characterize different quality parameters of the food,” says Emilio J. de la Red, Chief Technical Innovation Officer of INSPECTRA.

With hyperspectral imaging, they could also classify different quality parameters from the food products.

The capture of hyperspectral images and the compose of chemical images require a high load of computation. Moreover, integrating all that software into a robust machine that needs to work three shifts per day in a harsh environment was a challenge that required much hard work.

Both the use and the configuration of Specim cameras are simple in everyday life. They have the advantage of usability of a conventional camera despite being cameras with specific technology. The tricky part comes later, after the image capturing; the most challenging part is processing the images, associating the different spectral signatures, and obtaining the images in different tones according to the chemical composition.

A winning partnership

To succeed in integrating hyperspectral imaging into industrial equipment, INSPECTRA needed to choose the right partner. Specim is the world’s leading provider of hyperspectral imaging and is selected by numerous research laboratories, including world-renowned centers. This gave them the confidence to start the collaboration. The decision was easy when they learned the features and benefits Specim offered as a supplier.

Emilio J de la Red confirms, “We have tested other suppliers for different types of technologies, but for hyperspectral imagining technology, we have trusted Specim since our beginning. We continue to work with them as a supplier to this day because they have always offered us the best solutions and have solved our problems very quickly whenever we have needed them.”

Excellent results

Specim technology has allowed INSPECTRA to detect different types of defects and contaminations, undetectable to the human eye and other technologies. They have successfully used hyperspectral imaging in various applications:

  • Contamination of heat-sealed packages
  • Contamination in shrimp and different fish production lines
  • The freshness of meat, fish, vegetables
  • Contamination and quality of wool
  • Composition and contamination detection of minced meat
  • Quality and contamination detection in pork meat

For example, they use a Specim FX17 hyperspectral camera to classify different defects in the meat samples. Detecting PSE (pale, soft, and exudative) defects from the meat samples is difficult to see with the naked eye. The same goes for both bones and tendons.

” Yes, the solution met our expectations because we could superficially detect defects in meat samples that were difficult to distinguish due to the similarity with shades in certain parts of the meat through this technology. In addition, this technology allows us to know the different chemical components of each product or element and thus assign them a different color depending on their chemical composition.” confirms de la Red and continues.

” We could detect foreign bodies, bleeding, PSE, tendons, bones, and cartilage in the samples without any problems. The only challenging defect is the holes in the meat. Hyperspectral cameras see the hole as an area of flesh (same material) but with shadow (less brightness).”

Hyperspectral imaging has endless application opportunities

INSPECTRA has been very satisfied working with Specim. Both the cameras and the technology are easy to use and adapted perfectly to the different applications.

INSPECTRA is planning to apply hyperspectral technology to develop new equipment to detect contamination and inspect the quality of different food items. In the future, they may build machines with this technology for other sectors as well.

As a message to other companies looking for a hyperspectral imaging technology partner, Emilio concludes: “We would advise choosing Specim if you want a supplier with solid experience, a wide product range, and excellent service and response time.”