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Milk vodka distiller's labelling 100% proof with vision

A distillery that turns dairy by-products into vodka has installed machine vision to add decision support to its labelling process.

Dairy Distillery, based in Almonte, Ontario, set up a station using Pleora’s AI-based Visual Inspection System to help ensure brand consistency for operators labelling bottles manually.

The distillery trained a camera to identify key brand elements on the bottle, with a real-time on-screen image overlay then guiding operators as they manually place an associated emblem.

Pleora’s camera-based Visual Inspection System integrates pre-packaged AI plug-ins that are easily trained on a customer’s requirements to highlight product differences and deviations on a display.

The system helped the distillery reduce costs and avoid production downtime, as labelling errors can be avoided or detected earlier in the process.

Dairy Distillery has pioneered a process that uses milk permeate - a by-product from making food such as butter, ice cream, and yogurt - to distil vodka. The business now ships more than 100,000 bottles of its Vodkow vodka and cream liquors globally.

The distillery’s Vodkow bottle has a label placed by a machine and an emblem that is hand-placed by a human operator. The operator needs to align the emblem with brand elements on the main label.

The vision station for guiding label placement. Credit: Dairy Distillery and Pleora

'We’re a world-class product, and our packaging needs to look perfect every time,' said Neal McCarten, co-founder and director of marketing for Dairy Distillery. 'When you say you’re making vodka from milk, it can be a leap of faith for a consumer until they taste the product. Our packaging fashioned after a traditional milk bottle and eye-catching labelling... helps a consumer connect with the story behind the product. Consumers often judge what’s inside a bottle based on its appearance.'

In addition to helping with brand consistency, Pleora’s Visual Inspection System is used as a training tool to teach new employees brand quality standards.

As Dairy Distillery seeks to automate production processes further to keep pace with growing consumer demand for its products, it is now investigating ways to use Pleora’s system for quality control checks for in-production and finished goods. 

David Geros, chief operating officer of Dairy Distillery, said: 'As a premium brand, there’s an important human element to our processes – from the distilling to packaging – but technology helps ensure high-quality products consistently go out the door. Packaging errors translate into downtime, slower production, and higher costs. Pleora’s system is simple and easy to use, and helps removes ambiguity and stress for employees. We can check a product and know immediately if the labelling is within tolerance. As a QC tool, the inspection system helps increase our confidence in both our manual and automated processes.'

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