Vision Tracking System Helps Manufacturer & Clients


At MJ Engineering, we don’t settle for a quick fix; we work to solve the root problem. That is exactly what we did when one of the largest pan manufacturers in the US approached us looking for a solution to a problem their bakery customers faced. 

Problem: Malfunction Due to Overuse 

The problem was, after so many baking cycles, the non-stick coating used on the pans wore off. The quick fix was for the bakery to send those pans back to the manufacturer for recoating. The better fix was for the manufacturer to contact MJ Engineering. As MJ Engineering worked on a custom solution, it became clear that the coating was not the direct source of the problem.


The coating wore off naturally when it exceeded a certain number of thermal cycles. In other words, the pans were malfunctioning due to overuse. Many of the bakery owners were only using a portion of the baking pans they received from the manufacturer because there was no way to track them.

Solution: Vision Sensor Technology 

MJ Engineering resolved that problem by designing a tracking system that could read a laser-etched code on the bottom of each pan as it passed over a vision sensor on its way through the oven. Then MJ Engineering sends the data to the manufacturer’s custom software that allows the bakeries to interpret the pan usage data from the vision inspection equipment to determine when to recoat or switch pans.  


“The baking pan tracker effectively does two things,” said Richard Wand, owner of MJ Engineering. “It allows bakers to understand their pan management and rotation schedules through the compiled data from the scanner, and it also allows them to see that their pans are meeting the warranty life that the manufacturer stands by.”

Results: Entire System Working More Efficiently

MJ’s engineers developed a way to use common, easily accessible components to integrate with MJ Engineering’s proprietary tracking software.

Now, bakery personnel can install new pan trackers—about the size of a breadbox—in a pinch with simple tools. 

As Keith Kneidel, project manager for MJ Engineering, said, “We’ve taken the technologies that are there and married everything to a complete system: the camera technology (made by SICK), the PLC, or user-interface computer, the screen, and the FTP to get the data back to the manufacturer.” All the individually sourced components work together to allow the bakers to focus on baking.


Not only are buns no longer sticking to pans, but the data being gathered via automated inspection is also providing the pan manufacturer with up-to-date information on their pan’s durability and coating competency. The bakery owners can log onto an online portal for real-time updates on their pans. Buns are going into customers’ mouths instead of trash cans.

The Solution to Your Problem May Be A Tracking System

The ultimate solution to the pan problem turned out to be much larger than just recoating.


In fact, MJ Engineering’s pan tracking system not only extended the life of each pan, but also the relationship with the pan manufacturer and the bakery owners. Reducing product waste and shipping time between the bakeries and the manufacturer also made MJ Engineering’s system a win for the pan manufacturer.

To learn more about this system, or to get started on your own solution, give MJ Engineering a call today at 614-891-6111.

The Key to Any Good Turnkey Project – MJ Engineering

What Is a Turnkey Project?

A turnkey project, such as robotic systems integration, is like a one-stop-shop, where MJ Engineering handles the entire scope of work from start to finish. “All the customer has to do is plug and play,” says MJ Engineering’s Director of Automation Equipment, Keith Kneidel. In other words, MJ Engineering does all the designing, building, and testing of a machine or automated system for you, while ensuring it meets your specifications. When MJ Engineering installs the automated equipment at your facility, it will be ready to run.

The Client’s Needs and Involvement

At MJ Engineering, we work directly with our customers to make sure our designs meet your needs. And since we are the ones doing the designing and building, there is no need to outsource to multiple companies. We will be your single point of contact at every stage of the project. In addition to saving you time and cost, this method makes it easier for you to stay in the know of how the project is progressing, and communicate any changes you need to make along the way. Having all the work done in-house at MJ Engineering ensures a continuous, smooth operation. “We have the same thought process throughout the whole process and machine,” says Kneidel. “It works a lot better that way.”

Leverage MJ Engineering’s Experience with Turnkey Robotic Systems Integration

MJ Engineering has completed multiple turnkey robotic systems integration projects, so we have years of experience identifying the best designs for our customers. Turnkey automation systems and equipment, as well as motion-control robotics, save our clients time and frustration.

Example of a Turnkey Automation Project

One example of turnkey robotic systems integration is custom-designed automated equipment we produced for a medical company. The equipment we designed packages vials of medicine. According to Keith Kneidel, MJ Engineering managed every step for the medical client, from initial concept development to testing onsite.

The customer wanted to increase its throughput and quality. To achieve that goal, MJ Engineering referenced the client’s specifications, agreed to a scope of work, and began the electrical, mechanical, and controls design process. A robot, bowl feeder, and pallet conveyor system were incorporated to create a machine that can process more than 100 plastic vials per minute. This proved to be faster, more precise, and met the client’s standards better than the previous method. Safety fencing protects the operator from the robot, which meets the client’s safety requirements and Robotic Industries Association (RIA) safety guidelines.

MJ Engineering also programmed quality checks into the programmable logic controller (PLC). For example, the machine checks label alignment using a vision inspection system. If the label barcode doesn’t pass the quality inspection because it is scratched or misplaced, the machine discards the vial.

To meet the customer’s requirements, MJ Engineering completed factory acceptance tests (FATs) with the client onsite at MJ Engineering and a final production test after installation at the client’s facility before turning over the keys.

Give Turnkey Engineering Projects a Try

With a turnkey machine from MJ Engineering, you can rest easy, knowing we use our years of experience to handle the designing, building, testing, and implementation of your machine, while making sure it fits your specific requirements. By the time we finish installing and testing a turnkey machine at your site, it will be ready for you to use immediately. So give us a call, and give turnkey a try.


Keith Kneidel manages the Automation group at MJ Engineering. During his 15 years with the company, Kneidel has done design, product development, professional engineering certification, and engineering management. He has a degree in Mechanical Engineering from The Ohio State University.

Adaptable Machines Meet More of Your Needs

What is an adaptable machine?

An adaptable machine is customizable with a design that adjusts to meet your needs. It can handle a variety of parts and product styles, eliminating the need for multiple machines. MJ Engineering can design an adaptable machine for you that can change the order of operations executed on a part without interrupting production. 

Why choose an adaptable machine from MJ Engineering?

Do you need a machine that can manage parts of different sizes, depending on the task required? Do you want to improve efficiency in your automated systems? If so, an adaptable machine is your best fit. Also known as flexible machining, configurable machines, adaptive machines, or adjustable—these machines not only handle a variety of production needs, they save time and effort. With no need for manual intervention to switch out parts, an adaptable machine can provide greater labor productivity. It also lowers the cost per unit produced and increases production rates because it runs more efficiently. 

Leverage MJ Engineering’s experience with adaptable machines

MJ Engineering has designed multiple adaptable machines, and we can design one for you. An example of an adjustable machine we recently created is a custom-designed oral syringe filling machine

A customer in the medical industry needed a more efficient way to fill different-sized oral syringes with liquid medications. The machine MJ Engineering developed is equipped with four, customizable grippers that can handle multiple syringe sizes (from 0.5 mL to 20 mL), and the machine is designed to fill syringes with liquids of varying viscosities at a volume as low as 0.1 mL. The machine also adjusts to fit bottles from 3 to 7.5 inches tall. The operator simply selects a pre-programmed “recipe,” which contains information about the size of the syringe and other settings, loads the bottles and syringes, and presses the foot switch to start. No other manual involvement is needed. 

Give an adaptable machine a try

Not only are our machines flexible, we are too. MJ Engineering works with you from the very beginning to discuss your machine needs, such as the range of parts, products, and sizes the machine is required to handle. We commit to creating a design adapted to your needs and budget. 

MJ Engineering’s President Discusses the Complexity of Machine Design in an Increasingly Connected Age

(November 2019)—MJ Engineering was consulted for an article in the October issue of Digital Engineering magazine about designing equipment for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). In the article, “Designing Machines in the Age of the IIoT.” MJ Engineering President Richard Wand stresses that in an age of rapid technological advancement, it is not enough to purchase equipment; integrating the equipment with a focus on functionality can greatly increase the productive results of a machine and the people trained to use it. Designing machines that can meet customer specifications, including increased connectivity, is one of the many services offered by MJ Engineering. 

Read more of the Digital Engineering article at Designing Machines in the Age of the IIoT.


MJ Engineering Encourages Engineers to Pay It Forward by Sharing Their Knowledge

If there is one thing we’ve learned in our 30+ years of engineering, it’s that no one has a corner on knowledge. At MJ Engineering, we are always expanding our expertise, perfecting our processes, and refining our approaches, but we know that the knowledge we gain is not ours to keep. In fact, the more we pass it on to younger generations, the more it comes back to us.

How we feed the future

Since our beginning, we’ve taken the time to share much of what we have learned with others. Typically in a classroom, we tell students stories of our discoveries and our failures. Rather than resulting in a loss of equity in intellectual property, giving freely of our knowledge and experience is actually an investment—one that pays dividends by promoting leadership, inspiring discovery, and creating assets in the form of future engineers.

That is why MJ Engineering team members periodically give presentations about roller coasters and other exciting engineering applications, judge regional DECA competitions, and speak to college engineering students about what it means to be an engineer. Most recently, MJ Engineering donated to a local high school robotics team, who made it all the way to the FIRST® Championship in 2019 (see our Summer 2019 Newsletter for more on that endeavor.)

Promoting leadership through shared knowledge

One way to sustain any industry is to raise leaders who can carry the vision after the current generation has retired. How can this be done if not by sharing the excitement we have about our industry? For many of us, we learned to love what we do by watching someone else who held the vision before us.

“When presenting to young kids, particularly elementary school kids, we want to ignite that spark that gets them interested in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM),” says MJ Engineering President Richard Wand. “It is that spark of curiosity that, once ignited, is very hard to extinguish. When presenting to high school students, it has been my experience that the spark is either already there or has already been extinguished. So it is especially important to reach those kids in first through fourth grade, who are most apt to respond to a STEM-style presentation and have it affect them to the point that they start looking at things differently.”

Inspiring knowledge with shared experience

There is no stealing of ideas in these arenas, nor is it a matter of limiting genius. On the contrary, as we share our knowledge, the articulation of ideas makes them stronger in our own minds. After all, if you can’t communicate something, do you really know it?

More to the point of true understanding through communication, we find that apt young minds will bring the questions that those of us who have been around for a while either forgot to ask, or have settled on the answers we discovered years ago. For many, the mystery of new technology has long left the process, and the burden of feasibility has taken away the wonder.

However, in teaching the younger generations about this industry and the ways we create solutions, we are reminded of that wide-eyed discovery that—against all odds—leads to new discoveries. As Richard says, “Experience maximizes technology, but inexperience inspires technology.” And the truth is that without such inspiration, many industries will wither away. It is absolutely vital to the sustainability of any industry to keep a fresh set of ideas coming in.

So our decision to share what we’ve learned over the past three decades is not entirely altruistic. In truth, we gain so much more than we give. In addition to the satisfaction of impressing and inspiring a new generation of would-be engineers, what drives us back to the classroom time and again is the dream of keeping our industry viable and engaging for many generations to come. And who knows? One day those young engineers may create the very thing that makes our lives easier when we have long since retired.