Tob. Reporter, 2000, 127-8, p.76, ISSN.0361-5693

Optically inspecting cigarettes by detecting lengths of sections

Philip Morris Inc., New York, USA
U.S. Patent 6,075,882, assigned to Philip Morris Incorporated, New York, New York, USA. An inspection station irradiates a moving cigarette with one or more strobed arrays of infrared LEDs. The infrared radiation, which passes through the cigarette, is received by a video camera, which forms a digital image of the cigarette. A computer then detects the edges of the digital image of the cigarette and determines therefrom the length of the filter, hollow acetate tube, void chamber, tobacco plug, as well as the overall length of the cigarette. The computer then compares these measurements with expected standard values of these Sections, and outputs the comparison results to the user using various display formats. According to exemplary aspects, the present invention delivers the cigarettes one at a time to the video camera using a parts handling system. The parts handling system comprises an infeed bin for storing a batch of cigarettes, and for dispensing a cigarette to a carriage positioned beneath the infeed bin. The carriage then transports the cigarette placed thereon between the strobing infrared LED arrays and the video camera, which together provide an image of the cigarette. The carriage then transports the cigarette to an output bin, where a diverter blade knocks the cigarette off the carriage and into the output bin.