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Multi Camera System Advantage


To view 32” of product flow (for example) with a single camera, either the camera has to be very far away, or use high distortion “fish eye” optics to remain close. So either the machine has to be very large or the sort has to be compromised by using high distortion optics. Dividing the product flow into sections allows us to scale machines to nearly any width while maintaining a near flat field low distortion image. The height and length of our sorters and quality of the product images (and therefore sort quality) is not effected by machine width. WECO uses four cameras for a 32” wide sorter.


A camera with the same number of pixels viewing half of the product flow will have twice the pixels covering the product. In other words, using 4 cameras to view 32” of product flow will have 4 times the lateral pixels (1/4 narrower pixel) as the same camera viewing the whole 32” of product flow. A single camera with 4 times the resolution may cost as much as 4 cameras with 1/4 the resolution.

Keeping Cost Low 

WECO designs and manufactures its camera / illuminator systems in-house. These systems are optimized for high speed sorting, rather than general purpose imaging. It costs more to buy off-the-shelf camera and computing systems to do the same sort while at the same time increasing complexity and reducing reliability. 


Light levels detected by a camera decrease by the distance to the product squared. So, being 2 times further away from the product reduces light levels by a factor of 4. The lower the light levels, the less accurate the sort. Splitting the product flow up to be viewed by multiple cameras provides a flatter image and higher signal levels. Another way of looking at this is that if the camera is 2 times farther away from the product in order to view a wider product flow, the illumination system has to provide 4 times the light to maintain the same signal levels. This greatly increases the cost to build and operate (electrical power) the sorter.

Parellel Processing

Each Chromax/HD camera module utilizes 2 high speed DSP processors. A 32” two view machine has 16 of these processors all running in parallel. This enables complex real time sort algorithms by dividing the work and greatly reducing data rates. This reduces system cost and increases system reliability. Each camera module is a complete sorter providing: calibrated structured illumination, imaging, image processing, sort algorithm execution, and reject timing.


In the unlikely event a camera does fail, the remaining cameras will continue to sort. Since the cameras are modular in design, a camera can be quickly replaced in the field without requiring system re-calibration.