Their history is brief. They were born along with Optoelectronics development. Imagine to return back in time to the year 1960: you’ll discover that US-companies were on practice monopolizing the entire productive sector of the Machinery to fabricate glass bottles. Where were glass bottles production Lines it was a vital and welcome add-on the presence of an automated Quality Control.
That’s why also the Electronic Inspectors were originally conceived by US-based only Vendors. The alternative to the automated Quality Control, being the then unavoidable massive presence of human Operators. To have an idea of what presence, imagine that one Operator is fully and truly capable to visually control the Quality of only 8000 bottles-per-hour (bph). Then, a modern Beverage Bottling Line, whose production speed is typically over 50000 bph, should require (50000/8000) Operator, say over 6 Operators. But, there is an additional problem associated to this kind of human activity: after only 15 minutes our brain becomes tired due to the activity's repetitivedness.
In the reality, the absolute Quality of the human-made inspection fall progressively to minimum values: it make no sense to keep 8 hours an Operator looking bottles, when in the reality after 2 hours they’d have to be present 2 additionals, to keep the inspection Quality constant. It means that the human-made is a kind of Quality Control which cannot assure one of the most important characteristics of Metrology and Quality Control: repeatability. By these remarks, it is easy to understand how and why, as the production speed of Beverage Bottling Lines constantly grew, it became unavoidable to replace the human-made inspection (Operators) with machine-made inspection: the Empty Bottle Inspectors (EBIs).
The following brief video shows how closely related, in space and time, is electronic inspection to glass bottle fabrication.
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