Image processing techniques are now widely applied in many sugar factories willing to optimize their sugar production. How do our customers use them to raise quality and improve efficiency? Challenge of this work is to demonstrate the process improvements that the crystal growth monitoring and on-line color measurement bring every day to sugar factories.
With its exceptional video quality and image analysis, the pan camera CrystObserver® follows the crystal growth of batch pan and seed cooling crystallizer in Real-Time.
It detects particles from 4 µm and checks if the seeds enter the pan at the right time to avoid uncontrolled nucleation. There is no waste of time and energy before confirming the presence of adequate grain and their development. Any false grain occurring later in the process is detected and water usage is reduced by controlling the remelt.
Operators see the impact of a parameter modification directly on the crystal size and adjust the next boiling recipes accordingly for a reduced number of fines, better repeatability and higher effective yield.
With regard to sugar colour, the best way to get a quick and important Return On Investment is to use ITECA on-line colorimeter ColObserver® to individually optimize the washing time of each centrifugal.
Knowing that 1l of wash water remelts up to 3Kg of good sugar, it is clear that a reduction of wash water volume avoids remelting huge quantity of sugar and immediately improves production efficiency. In addition to water optimization, the colorimeter also helps reducing overall energy consumption.
Final sugar quality is also ensured by early detections of any visual non conformity that can be deviated to avoid contaminations. Wet or dry sugar, above any type of conveyor.
We start with the postulate that 1l of wash water remelts 3Kg of sugar and that a 1 s washing time corresponds to 2,5 l of wash water. We then calculate the annual extra sugar produced with a minimum washing time reduction of 1s on 3 centrifuges. ROI is evaluated considering the re-processing costs correspond to 15% of the sugar sale price.
An on-line analyzer that allows process optimization must be perfectly calibrated at start-up with the plant laboratory to guarantee a reliable, accurate and reproducible measurement.
Having the possibility to observe in real time the quality of your sugar is decisive to ensure a controlled quality. Being able to avoid sugar pollution before storage is decisive. The SpotObserver® is an essential tool to guarantee a pure sugar, it scans 100% of the running production and allows to divert out of spec sugar.
Using a very high resolution sensor and a reliable bright LED lighting system (explosion proof) the SpotObserver® performs an accurate acquisition and a highly sophisticated image treatment in real time.
The SpotObserver® sorts and counts the black spots from 250 x 250 µm according to configurable distribution classes. Images are stored on events over the whole campaign for full traceability.
It triggers alarms on the number of detections and /or on the black spots size, with statistical calculations over customizable periods.
Alarms can be used to divert the off-spec sugar avoiding any contamination or customer claims.
Conclusion: Real-time control of crystallization, centrifugation and sugar quality are key points that allow process improvement while reducing production costs. The tools presented here have demonstrated worldwide their ability to provide this control.
All these improvements fall within the development of industry 4.0.
As crystallization becomes more and more automated, the sensors presented above have been defined to fit perfectly into this new context thanks to their communication capabilities with the plant PLCs, DCS & cloud.
ITECA Color & Vision department is specialized in On-line image analysis dedicated to sugar industry
DNS and ITECA booth #12 at SUGAREX Khon Kaen on September 8-9, 2022
Achieve consistent quality with higher productivity and optimize your process control from the crystallization to the bagging station or silo
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