Installation of an Edge Tech Retrofit for Improved Trim Quality

Your local Unilux Sales Engineer will help you determine the application details and which of our available hardware configurations is the most effective to reduce waste based on your process.

Application analysis and simulations (measure twice, cut once).

Once an Edge Tech configuration is selected, a formal assessment of electrical (cable lengths, integration signals from the line, system location), mechanical (camera location and positioning controls, if applicable) and Level 2 integration scope can be completed within 5-10 business days. 

Next, in order to ensure a quick and successful commissioning, sample data is gathered from the mill Level 2 team to perform virtual simulations and regression testing to confirm that communication to the system will function properly. The Edge Tech system is shipped when integration processes, including Level 2 simulations and tests, are verified by Unilux and the mill Level 2 integration team.

Once equipment has been installed, commissioning begins.

Edge Tech system components typically ship within 4 to 6 weeks (8 to 10 weeks if positioning controls are required). 
Mechanical Engineers, Level 2 Engineers, and Electricians are able to install Edge Tech system components using on-site resources, saving considerable time and cost for the mill. Installation timing is based upon the availability of mill teams and often depends upon the production schedule. In our experience, this can vary from 1 month to 1 week (especially when a quality issue has prompted the need for real-time inspection of the coil edge).   
All pre-commissioning processes are completed prior to the site visit to avoid costly delays and ensure an efficient and successful startup. During commissioning, Unilux engineers are on-site.
Unilux teams arrive on a down-turn day to cold-run all required system and integration tests. Day 2 must be scheduled for start-up and trimming production for hot-run system and integration testing to confirm all installation and integration elements work as intended. Teams remain on-site to confirm that Edge Tech is functioning properly and all team members are trained.     
Below is a common outline of the process - from purchase to integration:

  1. Order is received.
  2. Integration simulations and regression testing begin once customer data and electromechanical details are received.
  3. Equipment ships within 4 to 6 weeks (8-10 week for Edge Tracker positioning controls).
  4. Mill staff installs camera housing mounts, camera housings, cabling and pertinent integration signal wiring to the Edge Tech computer.
  5. If applicable, mill staff installs the Edge Tracker positioning controls with camera housings, cabling and pertinent integration signal wiring to the Edge Tech computer.
  6. Pre-commissioning and integration checklist is completed by the mill and verified by Unilux.
  7. Commissioning with Unilux engineers. 1 day for cold-run integration testing and 1 day for hot-run integration verifications and operator and line manager training with the production line active.

Mechanical requirements for a basic Edge Tech installation

  • 2 customer-sourced camera housing mounting platforms
  • 2 customer-sourced Edge Tracker mounting platforms (if applicable)
  • Customer-sourced computer and monitor mountings in operator’s pulpit 
  • Cable conduits from camera or Edge Tracker positioning controls to the Edge Tech computer

Mill requirements for Edge Tech with Level 2 Interface, Full Knife Circumference and Automatic Defect Detection

  • Line speed pulse encoder
  • Weld-point or stitching-point signal (if applicable) (to initiate an index point of the edge images captured by Edge Tech)
  • Level 2 integration components (ethernet cabling from the Level 2 server network to the Edge Tech computer and validated data packets)

How Machine Learning helps operators proactively maintain trim quality.

For years, Edge Tech has been helping strip processing facilities to see the quality of their trim while a coil is still in production. Today, the solution has experienced a revival through the implementation of Machine Learning. The Edge Tech of today requires little to no attention from an operator when quality goals are satisfied.

This technology pivot comes from the ability to teach Edge Tech which defects are critical, resulting in reduced response time, greater control over quality, and improved consistency.

In manufacturing, where Machine Learning has the greatest benefit, the term is still a nuanced concept. To understand how Edge Tech can reduce operator intervention, we must first identify how the term is applied.

Categories of Machine learning.
From Wikipedia:

Early classifications for machine learning approaches sometimes divided them into three broad categories, depending on the nature of the "signal" or "feedback" available to the learning system. These were:
Supervised learning: The computer is presented with example inputs and their desired outputs, given by a "teacher", and the goal is to learn a general rule that maps inputs to outputs.
Unsupervised learning: No labels are given to the learning algorithm, leaving it on its own to find structure in its input. Unsupervised learning can be a goal in itself (discovering hidden patterns in data) or a means towards an end (feature learning).
Reinforcement learning: A computer program interacts with a dynamic environment in which it must perform a certain goal (such as driving a vehicle or playing a game against an opponent) As it navigates its problem space, the program is provided feedback that's analogous to rewards, which it tries to maximize.

Edge Tech uses the method of Supervised learning to identify defects.
From Wikipedia:

Supervised learning algorithms build a mathematical model of a set of data that contains both the inputs and the desired outputs. The data is known as training data, and consists of a set of training examples. Each training example has one or more inputs and the desired output, also known as a supervisory signal. In the mathematical model, each training example is represented by an array or vector, sometimes called a feature vector, and the training data is represented by a matrix. Through iterative optimization of an objective function, supervised learning algorithms learn a function that can be used to predict the output associated with new inputs. An optimal function will allow the algorithm to correctly determine the output for inputs that were not a part of the training data. An algorithm that improves the accuracy of its outputs or predictions over time is said to have learned to perform that task.

Types of supervised learning algorithms include active learningclassification and regression. Classification algorithms are used when the outputs are restricted to a limited set of values, and regression algorithms are used when the outputs may have any numerical value within a range. As an example, for a classification algorithm that filters emails, the input would be an incoming email, and the output would be the name of the folder in which to file the email. Similarity learning is an area of supervised machine learning closely related to regression and classification, but the goal is to learn from examples using a similarity function that measures how similar or related two objects are. It has applications in rankingrecommendation systems, visual identity tracking, face verification, and speaker verification.

Edge Tech takes training data to develop the algorithms to give our machine learning better output. We supply Edge Tech with a basic set of algorithms that will allow each plant location to collect a set of samples to use as training data for the system. As new defects are identified and samples are collected, Supervised Machine Learning is used to add the defect to the detection algorithm. With a system in place to identify defects as they develop, operators are able to be more proactive in their approach to quality control. As an added benefit, safety is improved by limiting operator intervention to only when necessary.

Learn how Edge Tech alerts operators of defects as they develop. Read the white paper.

Paper Machine Optimization with the LED Beacon

A guru of paper machine technicians once stated that if he had to make a choice of a single tool he could carry into a paper machine to optimize it, it would be a strobe because of all the places it is needed. Built to withstand water and pulp from the papermaking process, the IP65 rated LED Beacon is the ideal tool for complete paper machine optimization. In this series, we’ll explore the potential uses for an inspection strobe, 39 points in all, from pulp to finishing.

Part I: Wet End Inspection

A strobe can ‘freeze’ activity for the evaluation of formation and vibration on the wet end; a continuous wire loop used to form the wet paper web by dewatering a slurry of fibers.

  1. Flock from Head Box to Fourdrinear
  2. Stock Jump – too little or too much?
  3. Dewatering
  4. Foils – build up between wire and foil
  5. Trim Spray Nozzle
  6. Formation of stock
  7. Dandy Roll – water mark: is it clean or pickup on it?
  8. Couch Roll – is it plugging up?
  9. Transfer to First Felt
  10. Drive Roll – is it at the same speed as the wire?
  11. Spray Nozzles – are they plugged, spraying at the right angle?
  12. Wire Clean – is pulp washed off wire or is it building up?
  13. Wire Wear – is there wear, are the edges frayed, is the seam solid?
  14. Rimming on Rolls – causing rooster tail
  15. Detect Wire Slippage
  16. Detect Re-wetting in the Suction Couch
  17. Check Power Couplings

LED Beacon

See how Albany Paper Uses Unilux Strobes for Machine Optimization

How LED Strobes Make Steel Mill Production More Efficient

By leveraging the latest LED technology for surface inspection, steel coil mills and coaters can improve the consistency of coil quality, eliminate downtime and maintenance, reduce energy costs, and improve safety. Together, these benefits lead to greater efficiency in your plant. Here’s how:

Coil World Nov/Dec 2016

1. Improved Inspection Capabilities

Brighter, softer, even illumination. An LED stroboscope provides brighter, more consistent illumination where it is needed, making it easier to identify surface flaws. Light from LEDs is softer, making them a better choice for inspecting highly reflective materials, such as tin plate and coating lines, foils and metallic substrates.

Larger, well-defined illumination area. LED-based stroboscopic inspection also brings higher performance and overall efficiency for less. Powerful new LED stroboscopes have the ability to deliver light further along the length of the surface and more consistently throughout the targeted inspection area, allowing operators to pick out surface flaws and defects more easily than before. LED-based stroboscopes focus the light on the targeted inspection area. In addition, more highly adjustable brightness and flash rate give inspectors the ability to customize the lighting to match surface inspection needs taking into account ambient lighting.

Greater selection. Improvements in LED technology have also expanded selection options for stroboscopic inspection lighting. Instead of a one-size-fits-all technology, new Unilux LED stroboscopes are available in various sizes, styles and configurations. Mills and coil processors can select the right light at the best price for their process line or application, and replace older systems for almost half the original cost.

2. Elimination of Downtime and Maintenance Cost

No bulb replacement and associated downtime. Long-lasting LEDs greatly reduce maintenance and the downtime associated with lamp replacement inherent in traditional Xenon-based stroboscopes. With an 8-10 year estimated life of the LEDs, the elimination of replacement lamp cost in itself saves more money over the life of the surface inspection system, significantly speeding up ROI.

Uninterrupted inspection. With hundreds of diodes, LED stroboscopes can provide sufficient light for surface inspection even if one or more diodes fail. This not only eliminates downtime associated with a failed lamp, but also eliminates the inspection outages that could lead to lost production time or flaws slipping through to the customer.

3. Reduced Energy Costs

Lower energy consumption. The efficiencies of LED-based stroboscopic inspection reduces energy consumption by as much as 65% and reduces corresponding costs. These higher efficiency stroboscopes have also reduced the carbon footprint. As a result, LED-based stroboscopic inspection could qualify for energy reduction incentives from power companies and government agencies that offer grants and reduced electrical rates by undertaking energy reduction measures. (See State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency: for applicable programs in your state.)

More favorable ROI. These incentives increase ROI significantly when paired with the operational and maintenance cost reductions, and environmental benefits mentioned earlier. Unlike Xenon stroboscopes, LED-based models do not create ozone during operation. This eliminates the need for special ozone filters, making them a healthier choice for the mill and the environment.

Metals LEDvsXenonSpilloverCR

4. Improved Safety

No spillover.

While the amount of light produced by LED stroboscopic inspection lights is greater than traditional Xenon stroboscopes, there’s a big technical difference that provides an additional benefit to the LED lights – SAFETY. Because of the linear light source of the Xenon based stroboscope, the unit produces a fair amount of spillover outside the targeted inspection area, creating a potential safety issue. By spreading light evenly over an area that could be up to six times larger than the light output of Xenon lamps, LED stroboscopes provide a more concentrated light restricted to the targeted inspection area.

This shift in technology has the potential to improve safety and enhance mill performance – a powerful and rare combination for any process upgrade. To read more on LED inspection technology go to: Coil World December 2016

A Better Website

unilux website mobileDuring the last 12 months, the Unilux team has been working on a dramatic website redesign. Along the way, we learned about basic principals of good website design. Even in our industry, where personal attention and good customer service are vital, the quality of your site can be an indication of the quality of your products. So in the spirit of sharing knowledge with our peers, here are some of the lessons we’ve learned.

It is important for your website to work for you. To do that be sure to make it easy for your customers to find the information they are looking and encourage interaction with your company. Some of the ways to do this is are:

  • Use a clean design for easy readability
  • Include large relevant images
  • Include a call to action on every page
  • Make it easy for customers to find what they need to know
  • Organize the content with a clear menu and submenus
  • Make it easy for customers to reach you

Our new website at has adopted these principles. It is designed to help you make informed decisions when considering stroboscopic inspection. We have made it easier to find the product specifications, videos, and contact information you need, when you need it.

Click on any of the following links to take a brief tour.

We would love to hear what you think about the new site. Let us know if there is anything we can do to further improve your experience.

The Power to See

power to see thumb

You’ve invested a lot in equipment, inventory, skilled talent…. and it can all be for naught without a stroboscope - the most basic and flexible form of inspection.

A strobe can give your production team access to critical information, the ability to react, the ability to make adjustments and corrections to reduce waste, and the chance to take corrective action before it gets too far. Stroboscopic inspection gives you the power to control your results and your reputation as a quality supplier, improving profitability and the value of your brand.

It didn't start with manufacturing but with photography...

Unilux was formed from the innovation and imagination of two professionals—a photographer and an engineer—who wanted to create a flash system that could operate at the speed of motion picture cameras. In 1962, the two worked together to create a system for special effects and the reduction of motion blur in television commercials for food. In 1994, Unilux was recognized with a technical achievement award from the Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Unilux lights made it possible to capture some of the most iconic moments in commercials:

  • Milk - drop showing the crown pattern
  • Sunkist - juice squirting from the orange sections
  • Kellogg - cereal flake falling into bowl
  • Red Lobster - lemon squirting from the sections
  • Master Lock - the bullet passing through the lock

Today, Unilux is still fully committed to providing stroboscopic inspection lights that give our customers the ability to see something not possible on their own; an immediate view of product quality by eliminating the blur of fast moving objects. We call this The Power to See.

This isn’t just a new marketing tagline. This is the beginning of a new chapter for Unilux.

Technology changes fast; New LED’s are 2x brighter than prior designs and we incorporated them into our designs rapidly. Each year we invest over $1M USD in Research and Development to incorporate the latest advances in LED and electronic manufacturing.

To help offset the costs associated with keep the latest technology on your production floor, Unilux offers a trade-in trade-up program. We also have a large base of local experts available to come to your plant and show you the latest technology on your line before you commit.

With our unmatched support and guidance, customers select (never settle for) the right solution from our diverse, broad selection of solutions that is 3-4x more expansive than our nearest competitor.

The Advantages of LED Strobe Inspection Lights

unilux xenon vs ledStrobe lights are a simple yet effective tool for inspection and quality control at full production speed. When timed with the moving object, the rapid flash of a strobe will “freeze” an image of the part of the line that the eye sees when the light flashes.

Xenon-based strobe lights have been used for over 40 years to ‘stop the blur’ and allow operators to confirm product quality or troubleshoot a moving system. Xenon lights have flashtubes with energy supplied from the capacitor. Once the capacitor has been charged, a small amount of power is diverted into a trigger transformer, which ionizes the Xenon gas in the flash tube. This allows the capacitors to quickly release their energy into the lamp terminal, creating an arc inside the tube. The plasma discharge from the arc is seen as a flash.

Unlike Xenon-light sources, which produce light along the entire length of the lamp’s arc, LEDs can be thought of a point source of light. An LED strobe light is typically comprised of a matrix of LEDs (light emitting diodes), which are solid state and do not use a gas to create illumination. As a result LED technology allows strobe lights to be built into virtually any shape or size, and the projected light pattern can be tailored to fit almost any application.

Although first generation LEDs did not produce as much light as traditional Xenon strobes, they are now equal or brighter than Xenon strobes.


Other advantages of LEDs include:

  • Energy Efficient: LEDs consume 25% to 35% of the power consumption of comparable Xenon strobes.
  • Less Maintenance: LEDs last longer than Xenon bulbs for greater cost-efficiency – 8 years versus 6 months for Xenon strobes.
  • More Defined Inspection Area: LEDs are ideally suited for pairing with lenses that concentrate the light output and reduce light spillage into areas outside of the intended target.
  • Eliminate Downtime: With multiple diodes, LEDs can provide sufficient light for inspection even if one or more diodes burn out, avoiding downtime that can undermine xenon-based lights when the one bulb burns out.
  • Increased Safety: LEDs eliminate the environmental and safety concerns associated with Xenon based lights because ozone is not a by-product. A more defined inspection area also eliminates spillover that can temporarily vision for someone walking by the strobes on the production floor.
  • Better for Operators: The light emitted by LEDs is more uniform across the web, eliminating very bright “hot spots” that make inspection difficult and uncomfortable, and that contribute to operator fatigue.
  • More Consistent: LED output is extremely stable and has no arc wander or flash-to-flash variation associated with Xenon light sources.
  • Crisp, Sharp Detail: LEDs are capable of running at much higher flash rates than Xenon strobes without the loss of intensity that was required with Xenon-based lights.
  • Eliminate Material Glare: LEDs have a softer light that works better with highly reflective materials including steel, foils and metallic substrates.
  • Ideal for High Speed Applications: With higher flash rates and a more defined coverage area, LEDs are well suited for slitter/rewinder inspection which require high speed capability.


Both Xenon and LED strobes offer various options to control what inspectors need to see with greater mounting flexibility to fit any plant layout. Whatever you select, you need to have confidence that the light will best help inspect the product and protect your reputation by delivering the quality that your customers require.

11 Factors to Consider When Selecting an Inspection Strobe

Selecting a stroboscopic inspection light used to be a compromise. Traditionally selecting a Xenon strobe was based on matching web widths, selecting the one that was best suited for available mounting locations, and brightness or intensity from the mounting location. With the advent of LED strobes, plant managers now have many more options. Because the majority of inspection applications deal with quality of print, coatings or surface as a continuous process, plant managers should focus on the following 11 factors to select the right inspection strobe.

  1. The process: Is the application a good candidate for stroboscopic inspection? Stroboscopic inspection is ideal for lines moving at very high speeds with either repetitive-pattern media or homogeneous media. A repetitive medium is any continuous material that is marked with an image that has a non-varying repeat length. A homogeneous medium is a continuous sheet material that has no pattern to lock on to. On these materials strobes are used to detect either a repetitive mark or a single random defect.
  2. The material being inspected: Is the material metallic, paper, plastic, film, metal or cloth? Is it dull, semi-reflective or highly reflective? For a dull matte surface, strobes can be mounted at almost any angle. For highly reflective surfaces the light needs to be mounted at a steeper angle. Inspecting a mixture of surfaces or finishes may require an inspection system with multiple intensities or projection adjustments.
  3. Web or line width: How wide is the area being inspected? The ideal strobe configuration is based on the width as well as the distance from the strip and the required flash rate. See fixed mount coverage areas.
  4. Process line speed: How fast is the process running? Each strobe system has a range of flash rates over which it operates. You need to be able to match the strobe’s flash range to the process speed.
  5. Repeat length: What is the size of the repeat? Smaller repeat lengths require shorter flash durations. Larger repeat patterns can tolerate longer flash durations.
  6. Inspection location: Where do you need the inspection performed, at the end of the process or along the process line? The decision will determine whether a to select permanently mounted or portable strobes.
  7. Amount of light: For proper inspection, strobe lighting should be four times brighter than ambient light. LED lights are brighter than Xenon strobes and more likely to provide this level of output. This is especially evident in security printing, where UV strobes are widely used. New LED UV strobes eliminate the need for a dark viewing area or a box around the inspection area to block out ambient light.
  8. Distance from the web or line: Plant conditions can restrict how close the lights can be mounted to the surface being inspected.
  9. Environmental conditions: Several environmental conditions can affect the ability to inspect, including solvents, excessive heat, excessive moisture and any hazards to the operators. New LED lights significantly reduce safety concerns when using volatile chemicals. Still, the physical safety of an operator is always a primary concern.
  10. Inspection cycle: Is the inspection cycle continuous or periodic? This will determine if a light duty or heavy duty light is needed.
  11. Single or double-sided inspection: This will determine how many lights are needed and what sort of cables or synchronization functions are required.

From the Blog

Installation of an Edge Tech Retrofit for Improved Trim Quality

Your local Unilux Sales Engineer will help you determine the application details…

How Machine Learning helps operators proactively maintain trim quality

For years, Edge Tech has been helping strip processing facilities to see…

Paper Machine Optimization with the LED Beacon

A guru of paper machine technicians once stated that…

How LED Strobes Make Steel Mill Production More Efficient

By leveraging the latest LED technology for surface inspection, steel coil…

A Better Website

During the last 12 months, the Unilux team has been working on a dramatic website redesign. Along…

You’ve invested a lot in equipment, inventory, skilled talent…. and it can all be…

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