Process Control Applications

Color machine vision (CMV) can be used to monitor color of incoming and final products, extent of cooking process, and pigment concentration. Strong correlations were found between a colorimeter and CMV systems (CMVS) and colors as perceived by humans (10). Among the applications of a CMVS are the monitoring and measurement of product color, extent of retort, and other thermal processes through chemical markers. One such application is the monitoring of baked and roasted materials as an indication of quality or degree of cooking (11). Baked muffins (doneness), roasted peanuts, and pizzas (mapping) are some of the specific products (Fig. 5). Minimum description analysis is used when the quantity of irrelevant colors (e.g., blueberries in muffins, raisins with peanuts, etc.) vary between samples (12).

A system to predict crawfish molting based on color ratio was used to produce soft-shelled crawfish (13). The system used an IBM PC/AT to control a Versa Module Eurocard (VME) image-processing system. A Pulmix CCD

color camera with a polarizing filter was used to acquire the image. A system consisting of an optical scanner, a computer and image-processing system, and a robot water jet cutter was designed to produce fat-free steaks (14). The system uses a 3D laser scanner to obtain the image profile with up to 0.1 pixel. A digital signal processor (DSP) program enables the image-processing system to receive the product's volume and thus its mass. Another similar system using rotating blades instead of water jets combines image processing with a scale to define the shape, orientation, and mass of product to be cut into portions (Fig. 6). This process allows for maximum efficiency and minimum waste. These systems not only save on labor and add efficiency but also are more effective in controlling hazards from handlers and cutting utensils.

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