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Volume measurement for food

Precise portioning with 3-dimensional embedded vision

The challenge:
Precise portioning

The goal was to optimize a cutting machine for processing fish fillets so that exactly equal portions are packaged, based on volume measurement and at the highest speed.

The solution: Intelligent camera with DSP

The camera detects the salmon fillets, calculates volume and weight from the height data, and determines the cutting angle. Completely autonomously and with direct data transmission to a PLC.

3D camera for food portioning - IBN GmbH


Measuring unit positioned above the assembly line, consisting of a laser from Stocker-Yale and a smart camera from Vision Components.

Structured light provides 3D information

The process for obtaining 3D information is simplified by using structured light (Structured Light Method). In this technique, a previously defined light pattern is projected onto the object to be measured. From the captured images and the known geometry between the light projector and the camera, the three-dimensional coordinates of the points on the object surface are calculated.


The technology has been used as part of a fish portioning project developed by IBN Ingenieurbüro Bernd Neumann on behalf of GEBA Röscherwerke. In order to process the required number of over 120 fish fillets per hour, the system had to detect the individual salmon fillets, determine their volume and weight, and then define the cutting angle of the cutting device, so that portions weighing exactly 200g could be packed.

Smart camera calculates volume and weight

In preparation for the data to be transferred to the cutting device, the height information of the fish on the conveyor belt must first be determined. For this task, an intelligent camera from Vision Components was chosen, which is mounted at an angle of 45° to the conveyor belt and picks up the laser light from a Structured Light Laser from Stocker-Yale at an interval of 5 mm.


Once this data has been collected, height data is interpolated. The system was calibrated at the beginning with an object of known height. Therefore, the height data can be transformed into world coordinates and the volume of the fish can be determined. Since the ratio of volume to weight of the fish is known, the angle of inclination of the cutting edge can be accurately calculated to obtain an exact number of slices at optimal weight per slice.



3D volume measurement with Structured Light Laser


High speed and precision

VC Camera

VC40xx with DSP

Stand-alone data processing on the smart camera

The VC40xx intelligent camera was the optimal solution for this application. Since it is equipped with a TI TMS320C64xx DSP from Texas Instruments, it was possible to accommodate all image processing routines on the camera using Code Composer. Once calibrated, the camera's digital and serial interfaces allow commands to be sent directly to the PLC that controls the cutter. This avoided the need for a separate, costly PC-based solution with a frame grabber and camera.

The solution has significantly reduced the cost of integrating the vision solution into the overall plant. IBN is convinced that other manufacturers of portioning and packaging equipment can also optimize production processes with this technology. The engineering company has already received inquiries from the meat processing industry and from dairy and milk product packaging companies.

About IBN GmbH

Bernd Neumann founded IBN GmbH in 1999 after four years of work as a graduate photo engineer. He was one of the first who integrated a graphical user interface into smart cameras, which could also be pa-rameterized PC-independently. Customers such as Bosch, Fuji, Nestlé, Siemens, SKF, Sony, Volkswagen, etc. are using the cam-eras. They operate completely autono-mously and make camera inspection PC-independent.

Same Size for All: Volume measurement for food

Precise portioning with 3-dimensional embedded vision

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