Headwall Photonics Blog

Hyperspectral Imaging - Next Generation Machine Vision Platform for Food Safety and Quality

Posted by David Bannon on Tue, Jun 26, 2012

Bosoon Park, author of this blog entry, works as an Agricultural Engineer on behalf of the USDA in Georgia. He has done extensive research on hyperspectral and Raman imaging as it applies to food inspection and agriculture. Author of numerous published papers on the subject, Bosoon will be co-presenting a discussion on hyperspectral imaging at the annual conference of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers to be held in Dallas July 30 through August 2.

USDA At USDA, our work revolves around making sure that the foods we harvest and eat are safe, high quality, and healthy. Our mission is twofold: ensuring and improving the safety of food and feed, and ensuring and improving the quality and economic value of food and crops.

There are very important inspection steps between ‘farm’ and ‘fork,and the USDA invests considerable time looking at new technologies that can help. Hyperspectral & Raman imaging (both imaging spectroscopy techniques) can provide valuable inspection data based on the chemical composition of agricultural products that traditional machine vision systems cannot provide. 

During the past decade, USDA has worked with companies such as Headwall Photonics to develop hyperspectral technologies for in-line food safety inspection. Our work focuses on contaminant detection during in-line processing, which the Hyperspec Inspector allows us to do. Our researchers are expanding hyperspectral imaging technology to rapidly detect foodborne pathogens at a microscopic level.  Hyperspectral imaging has tremendous potential for the food industry in terms of safety inspection and quality control by analyzing spatial and spectral characteristics of agricultural products.  We are also exploring handheld hyperspectral instruments fully integrated with operating software for field use.

Raman spectrometers will also detect foodborne pathogens since their scattering phenomena respond very well to particular laser-lighting sources. USDA researchers have proved the concept to identify bacterial species and foodborne bacterial serotypes with surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS). This is an emerging area of focused research for improved food safety.

In an effort to educate and inform, several of us from USDA are preparing a short course on ‘hyperspectral imaging’ at the upcoming American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) conference July 30-August 2 in Dallas. Thanks to help from Headwall Photonics in commercializing and economizing the technology, we’re able to research and test hyperspectral and Raman instruments so that they can become mainstream across food-processing industries ranging from poultry to specialty crops.

Tags: hyperspectral imaging, hyperspectral, Sensors, SWIR, food processing, agriculture, Raman, USDA, plant phenotyping, Raman imaging

Hyperspectral Imaging Helps Improve Food Inspection

Posted by Christopher Van Veen on Tue, Jun 12, 2012

Photonics Spectra June 2012We're quite proud to note that the current issue of Photonics Spectra features a new cover story authored by Chris Van Veen and David Bannon of Headwall Photonics. One of the focal points of the story is that hyperspectral imaging isn't solely for satellites and high-flying aircraft...although we're quite well-versed when it comes to those application areas!

Headwall has worked tirelessly to refine and adapt hyperspectral imaging technology so that it can be deployed along food inspection lines to boost speed and quality...and do so economically. Indeed, the USDA said earlier this year that it wants to modify poultry inspection so that companies take more ownership of the process. To do so, they need exceptionally reliable and robust spectral imaging solutions that integrate seamlessly into existing facility layouts. In this article we talk about a variety of application areas for hyperspectral, all revolving around food. We also talk about important considerations that need to be addressed so that the technology demonstrably exceeds the level of precision, accuracy, speed, and return on investment that food-processing companies demand.

Tags: hyperspectral imaging, hyperspectral, Headwall Photonics, food processing

The 'High Science' of Hyperspectral Imaging Goes Mainstream

Posted by Jeff Paquette on Wed, Jun 06, 2012

Hyperspectral instruments often conjure up images of ‘high science,’ where complex instruments are tended to by white-jacketed specialists. While the instruments themselves are very precise and highly engineered, Headwall Photonics is taking complexity out while putting exceptional performance in.

Application areas for hyperspectral imaging are numerous: forensics, biotechnology, high-speed inspection, color measurement, pharmaceuticals, and airborne remote sensing are just some of them. And of course, NASA-led military, reconnaissance, and remote-sensing missions became the catalyst for this technology in the first place.

Poultry ProcessingThanks to efforts led by Headwall to drive cost and complexity out while improving optical resolution, Hyperspectral imaging technology is now emerging as a very useful process/analytical tool in the automation of food safety and quality inspection.

Because hyperspectral imaging sensors provide performance beyond traditional machine-vision cameras, the USDA is taking notice. The USDA seeks to modernize poultry inspection in the United States, and hyperspectral imaging is one area of particular interest to them. The technology can be deployed to detect diseases, physical contaminants or fecal matter. High-speed poultry-processing facilities represent one valuable application area, but hyperspectral imaging can be deployed for any high-value valuable food product.

Since these ‘red-flag’ conditions can be catalogued with respect to their spectral ‘signatures,’ a hyperspectral sensor can do its job quickly and silently by comparing what it sees against this spectral library.  The ripeness level of a cranberry, for example, can be tagged with its spectral signature so that only good product passes through the line.

Processing and inspection speeds go up, product quality is higher than ever, and existing inspection regulations are easily met.

Tags: hyperspectral imaging, hyperspectral, Headwall Photonics, food processing

ISO9001: Focus on Quality not a passing fad

Posted by David Bannon on Thu, Feb 16, 2012

Earlier this week, Headwall successfully completed its re-certification audit for ISO 9001:2008. We see it as a proud milestone rather than a passing fad, because Quality does matter to us! The audit was conducted by NQA, a prestigious ISO audit and surveillance company.Quality is a necessary and functionality pervasive attribute when you are an analytical instrument manufacturer such as Headwall.  As our business relies on repeat OEM business or high volume spectrometer manufacture, customers expect and demand a very predictable supply chain partner.

NQAFor Headwall’s core business of designing and manufacturing advanced spectral instrumentation that will be deployed at the heart of mission-critical applications, the inherent corporate ability to understand and quantify measures of performance is a unique differentiator.
 
Surely, developing and maintaining an ISO quality system requires organizational focus and discipline and some may be inclined to believe it is more expensive to do so … but that is short-sighted.  The costs of not implementing a product quality system are pervasively felt with product returns, poor and unresponsive technical support, low manufacturing yields, and most importantly, dissatisfied customers.
 
food processingHeadwall sells into a very diverse and critical set of applications where product reliability is key – NIR in-line process analysis, handheld color measurement devices, raw material screening for pharmaceuticals, spectral imaging of food and agriculture products, or airborne hyperspectral sensors – and all of these environments demand traceability of product and verifiable work instructions to support product quality standards.
 
Headwall will proudly post our ISO9001:2008 certificate but the real benefit is being able to deliver on our promises to customers and then being able to prove it to them.
 

Tags: hyperspectral imaging, hyperspectral, Headwall Photonics, food processing, ISO9001:2008