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"Where the Science of Quality Assurance is still an Art!"

R.K.B. OPTO-ELECTRONICS, INC. web inspection on LinkedIn  R.K.B. OPTO-ELECTRONICS, INC. web inspection on You Tube


R.K.B. OPTO-ELECTRONICS, INC facility in Ottawa CanadaRKB roots:  R.K.B. OPTO-ELECTRONICS, INCORPORATED (RKB) was founded back in the early 1950's in Ottawa, Canada by two instrumental visionaries Paul Nash and John Harrison.  The company was called Nash & Harrison, Ltd.  The company developed and patented many of the current online inspection techniques still in use today.  Their primary focus was on paper sheeter applications where zero defect tolerance was a requirement of the time.  Since no other competitive technologies existed at that time the company experienced sustainable growth of more than 25% per year.  Primary markets served were Canada and Europe.


By the late 1950's, the company introduced newer state-of-the-art technologies using phototransistor technology for the detection of spot type defects such as dirt, bugs, shives, oil, light spots and other common events that occurred during the paper manufacturing process.  They also introduced full material web inspection for high-speed paper and coating machine processes.  IWilliam Dobbie of R.K.B. OPTO-ELECTRONICS, INC.n 1955, the company hired a young engineer from Scotland with significant background in electronic and optic vision designs as their Design Engineer.  Named William Dobbie, the company realized significant technological advances in their machine vision designs facilitating the development and introduction of newer more reliable sensing technologies using transistor based sensors.


How the Eldema Electronic Paper Sorting Machine Operates1960's:  In 1960, the company installed one of its first patented phototransistor based defect detection systems at Guard Bridge Paper Co., United Kingdom.  At the time, this was an innovative design that no other company offered.  This technology facilitated the ability to detect many more defects that commonly occurred during the process of making web materials such as paper.  New Sorter Cutter in Operation at StoneywoodBy the mid 1960's, the company became the leading supplier of web inspection solutions in Europe.  At the same time, government backed subsidized programs and intellectual property appropriation facilitated the introduction of various competitive companies that were in Finland, Sweden and Germany.  Not with standing the market becoming competitive, RKB had installed hundreds of systems worldwide with its installation at Wiggins Teape, Aberdeen, Scotland and Champion Papers, Hamilton, OH (chromekote) making it the leader in on-line high speed machine vision technology.  The late 1960's saw significant changes in the industry.  The industry saw competitors emerging such as Cutler Hammer, Sick Optic, ULMA and some Asian manufacturers.  At the same time, larger multinational companies were looking to diversify into other industries they felt would enhance current technologies they offered.  One such company was Leigh Controls Ltd.  As a leading technology supplier involved in aerospace and industrial applications, Leigh Controls was considered a leader worldwide similar to the Siemens, Honeywell and ABB of today.


hole Detector

Ultraviolet Hole Detector; Model 2084

Infrared Defect Fault Detector; Model 2060

Involved in case packaging machinery, converting machinery and other associated areas, Leigh Controls Ltd., considered implementation of inspection to be a natural fit with their current technologies.  While the company experienced higher growth than in previous years, various business decisions made by in-experienced management personnel led to a critical mistake which was to pull of the European market.  At that time, Europe was the leading growth market for high-speed on-line web inspection and quality control.  This decision was made in part on the analysis that the United States market was ripe for extensive growth (US businesses did not invest in online inspection at that time as they did not consider that technology a necessity for long term growth).  This decision later would hinder growth for Leigh Controls and allow companies like ULMA and Sick Optic to gain market share.


William Dobbie - Founder of R.K.B. OPTO-ELECTRONICS, INC.1970's:  In the early 1970's the inspection division under the guidance of William Dobbie, designed and patented new technologies in the area of ultraviolet hole detection and splice detection.   With the advent of inspection applications moving to paper and coating machinery, the need to inspect on sheeters decreased.  However, splicing out defects on parent rolls of material created a new requirement for finishing departments to resolve mill and butt type splices.  As a result of 3 years of innovative design, the company introduced the first splice detector sensor system using capacitive technology as the sensing base.  Within a one year, the splice detection technology became the preferred unit used by Clark Aiken, Beloit, Jagenberg, Bielomatik and Will to name a few.  Over the years, the company has become the preferred supplier of this type of technology worldwide.  While the technology has undergone significant changes, basic concept has not changed allowing this technology to be the longest running successful technology in the history of online inspection.  By 1976, financial considerations and logistics required the company to revaluate its manufacturing base.  After 20+ years in

Ottawa, Canada the decision was made to move across the border to the United States.  This would provide better logistics and purchasing power allowing for significant reduction in manufacturing costs and improve profitability.  After careful consideration of various locations, the company located to Syracuse, New York which at that time was a hub for serious industrial manufacturing with companies like Carrier Corp, GE, and GM to name a few. 

Defect Fault Web Inspection System

Defect Fault Web Inspection System

Defect Fault Web Inspection System

Defect Fault Web Inspection System

1979 was a year that saw significant gains in machine vision technology.  The company had completed and patented the first camera-based vision system used for online web inspection.  Designed for film processing lines, the new camera system provided detection capabilities far beyond typical photomultiplier, laser or phototransistor technologies.  However, it would not be until 1986 and the invention of CCD technology that other suppliers would catch onto the successful use of camera technology as a sensing platform.  By then, RKB had over 8 years experience in filtering techniques specific to camera-based technology allowing RKB to provide a more stable and reliable unit overall.


R.K.B. OPTO-ELECTRONICS, INC. Seal1980's:  1980 was the year that the company became officially known as R.K.B. OPTO-ELECTRONICS, INC.  In October of that year, William Dobbie acquired the Industrial Process Automation Division of Leigh Controls and renamed the company RKB as it is most widely known today.  With new insight and direction, the company became the premier supplier to Crane & Co., Inc. manufacturers of the United States Currency.  Within 7 years, RKB would introduce high speed CCD based inspection technologies using all forms of camera sensors unlike competitive companies, many of which are no longer around.  Of course, by the late 1980's, the CCD development facilitated the introduction of many smaller companies all bidding for piece of the market, some successful, many were not.


R.K.B. US Patent for its Coating Streak Detection SystemR.K.B. US Patent for its Coating Streak Detection SystemR.K.B. Patented Coating Streak Detector System1990's:  In 1992, William Dobbie again designed an innovative technology for the detection of coating streaks.  Unequaled in performance by any other competitive solution, even today, this technology allows RKB customers the ability to detect coating streaks and scratches that have long plagued coating material manufactures.  With the ability to detect streaks as small as 1 micron, this patented and innovative solution truly presented a quantum leap in inspection technology.  RKB successfully introduced its new streak detection technology to Europe.  So successful was this installation, that the mills technical manager to date has not seen a unit that can compare in reliability and accuracy.  By 1997, RKB has gone back to the drawing board so to speak and developed specialized technology for the detection of similar defects for magnetic media which was is an important media now preferred by consumers and business alike as the media of choice in everyday use.


William Dobbie; Founder of R.K.B. OPTO-ELECTRONICS, INC.2000's:  September of 2003, RKB successfully installed its machine vision technology in the growing Asian market where quality control is becoming a staple requirement for web  based material manufacturers quality initiatives.  One of the systems installed was the companies patented coating streak and scratch detection technology.  As a result of this installation and the growth rates estimated in Asia, RKB decided to open up a base of operations to service its customers in Asia, Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand.  Located in the heart of papermaking Jiangsu province, China, RKB ASIA has put forth significant effort to establish itself as a leading supplier with installations at many premier papermakers throughout Asia, Southeast Asia and Australia.


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