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Competence center for inspection technology is inaugurated on the campus of TU Kaiserslautern

Defects and impurities in food: More efficient processes to improve controls in the food industry

Before foodstuffs leave the production plant, manufacturers inspect the goods for possible foreign bodies and product defects. This can be done quickly and easily using an X-ray inspection machine, for example. Such a machine is also available in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology at the Technical University of Kaiserslautern (TUK). In the Competence Center for Inspection Technology, four research groups are working on making the technology more efficient. The machine was acquired thanks to a donation from the Kaiserslautern-based engineering company Wipotec.

The Competence Center for Inspection Technology is concerned with improving methods of foreign object inspection, clear and legible labeling, and product shelf life using density testing, in the food and pharmaceutical industries. The research groups are working closely with the technology company Wipotec. For example, they are working on methods of image generation and sensor technology, in order to better detect foreign bodies in X-ray images. But signal processing and the efficient acceleration of image processing using special hardware units are also the subject of research. This would make it possible to inspect food much faster and more precisely and, for example, to detect broken glass on pizza or other contaminants and to view and evaluate individual components of the product in isolation. Finally, the packaging should also be inspected more precisely to further reduce the amount of prematurely spoiled food for the end consumer.

The machine is being used by teams led by Professor Dr. Andreas König from the Cognitive Integrated Sensor Systems department, Professor Dr. Marco Rahm from the Theoretical Electrical Engineering department, Professor Dr. Ralph Urbansky from the Communications Engineering department and Professor Dr. Norbert Wehn from the Microelectronic Systems Design department.

In 2016, the Kaiserslautern-based company Wipotec donated one million euros and an X-ray machine to TU Kaiserslautern for research purposes. The company specializes in developing and producing intelligent weighing and inspection technology. Behind founder and CEO Theo Düppre is his development team of Dr.-Ing. Michael Siegrist, Dr.-Ing. Christian Bur, Dipl.-Ing. Ulrich Heil, Dipl.-Ing. Tino Hänel, Dr.-Ing. Markus Lorang, M.Eng. Kai Hoffmann.

Wipotec CEO Theo Düppre has been closely associated with the TUK, the Department of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology, for many years. With his idea of a letter scale for electronic postage calculation at the chair of Professor Walter Heinlein, Düppre laid the foundation for his company together with Udo Wagner in the 1980s. Wagner worked in the electronics workshop at the Technical University of Kaiserslautern and laid the foundation for a globally successful company with Düppre. In May 2019, Düppre was awarded the honorary pin by the TU Kaiserslautern because he has rendered outstanding services to the TUK in research and teaching.

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