Clear or Reflective Object Detection

Detecting transparent clear or shiny objects is one of the biggest challenges sensors face. Variations in target shape, size, material, color and translucence can complicate accurate detection. Light can burn through a target or be reflected away in erratic ways. Harsh, hazardous and washdown environments found in many applications not only challenge detection, but can dramatically shorten the lifespan and performance of a sensor. Banner offers several solutions designed and developed specifically to overcome the many challenges common to clear object detection.


Clear, thermoformed plastic containers, trays and clamshells are used to package a wide variety of products. To ensure that loading and other downstream processes progress as smoothly as possible, packagers must be able to detect the leading edge of these containers and confirm presence.

Dual-mode sensor measures distance and light intensity to reliably detect a wide range of transparent and translucent objects. IP69K-rated stainless steel housing resists exposure to harsh cleaners and washdown. 

Clear or shiny objects present one of the largest challenges to photoelectric sensors. Any changes in reflectivity, target shape or size, and even color can complicate matters. It is relatively common for standard sensors to burn through a clear target or for light to be reflected back in unpredictable ways, causing false readings.

QS18 Expert Clear Object Detection Sensors are deployed at strategic points along the length of the air conveyor. Each sensor is configured to use the Light Set sensing mode for clear object detection. As a bottle passes between the sensor and the reflector it will absorb light from the sensing beam and the sensor’s microcontroller will detect these changes. Quick detection of accumulations or gaps using the sensor helps manage the flow of bottles through the system, reduces downtime and improves overall plant efficiency.

The manufacturing and verification process of packaged goods is increasingly becoming more complex. The various types of packaging used can include shiny, glossy, or other unpredictable surfaces. For instance, reflective, multicolored, and wrinkled material such as foil or film is frequently used in food and beverage packaging and can cause inconsistent readings. 

Banner’s QMH26 Photoelectric Sensor provides reliable clear glass vial detection for strict quality control, while its rugged housing makes it a sustainable, long-lasting sensing solution.

The QMH26 features 316L stainless steel housing to prevent chemical corrosion and a hygienic mounting shape to minimize contamination risk. The hygienic shape of the QMH26 with sealed housing and smooth joints allows for clean in place applications and reduces bacterial accumulation.

Banner’s QM26 Washdown Photoelectric Sensor is rated to IP69K, making it ideal for high-pressure washdown environments. Its rugged, non-toxic 316L stainless steel housing allows for use in harsh 1500 psi and 80⁰C washdown environments. The sensor can withstand environmental temperature cycling from -30° C to 60° C

With a sturdy, reliable housing, the QM26 is suited well for detecting clear glass jars in a salsa filling application. The QM26’s compatibility with food products greatly minimizes contamination risk, while its reliable sensing capabilities ensure the glass jars are placed correctly before being filled with salsa.

Our new Q4X laser clear object detection sensor works very well in an application such as this.  The Q4X is completely sealed and made of robust IP69K-rated FDA-grade stainless steel making it resilient to even the most harsh environments and it also was created with a simple “point, teach, and go” setup.  It has an intuitive interface and an easy-to-read angled display.  This ease of use makes it ideal for a variety of factory floors, including the beverage industry.

Banner Engineering’s new Q4X laser clear object detection sensor is able to detect clear objects without the use of a reflector. It is simply taught to a stable background. It makes a decision on the presence of a target based on both distance and intensity for reliable detection of challenging targets such as bottles and cans. Eliminating a reflector in a washdown area also eliminates a potential point of failure. The sensor has integral on/off delays that can be used to ignore bottles that are passing by, but send a signal if a bottle is still or if accumulation is taking place.

A QS18 in Foreground Suppression mode is mounted above the conveyor surface (30-200 mm sensing range). Using the conveyor as a “background,” the sensor is able to detect objects passing by that may otherwise elude detection due to the reflective nature of the packaging.

Tray denesters introduce food trays onto the conveyor system that leads to the filler. It is important that proper spacing is maintained between trays in order to maximize production and prevent too much line pressure. Incorrect line pressure can cause many errors and downtime if production is stopped in order to make the necessary corrections.

Detecting and counting clear bottles in pharmaceutical applications has been a difficult sensing challenge. With traditional photoelectric sensors the sensing beam may burn through translucent materials, or the emitted light may reflect off of the bottle, resulting in unreliable counting results. Ultrasonic sensors can be used to reliably detect clear objects, but ultrasonic solutions may not have a fast enough response time and the ultrasonic beam is usually too wide to detect the gaps between bottles.

Banner’s Clear Plastic EZ-ARRAY is designed to monitor an area of the conveyor that single point sensors cannot. With its polarized technology, discrete outputs can be used as an alarm to notify the bottle handling equipment controls that there is an obstruction on the conveyor.

The QS30ELVC retroreflective sensor is the ideal solution for detection of clear targets because it has an 8% threshold for clear object detection, which allows a clear object to be detected as long as it attenuates at least 8% of the light passing through it. The sensor has a minimum range of 100 mm, which is great for small conveyors and limited spaces, with a maximum range of 2 m.

The WORLD-BEAM Q12 in retroreflective mode detects shiny metal rings as they pass on a conveyor and then sends the data to a counting device. Because the reflector distorts the beam it returns to the emitter, the sensor can distinguish between the beam reflecting from the rings and the beam reflecting from the reflector.