"Our expectation is that this will be the premier PET plant in the world" says Alex Hernandez a process engineer at the Chino CA plant of Ball Corp. This is the first of Ball's facilities to supply bottles of polyethylene terephthalate which opened in late 1995. In less than two years the plant commissioned 10 automated preform injection molders from Husky (Bolton Ontario Canada) and seven high-output blow molders from Sidel (Norcross GA). While those systems enable the plant to produce about 700 million PET bottles in a variety of sizes each year what helps make Chino a showcase plant for Ball are the bottle inspection systems located in each of the 500-bpm blow molding machines Hernandez says. What Ball calls state-of-the-art inspection machines are on-line video-based systems from Pressco/IIS (Cleveland OH). "We have a Quality Systems department but they don't inspect each bottle" Hernandez points out. "Instead we rely on the Pressco integrated inspection system to do that for us. If the system is not on-line it causes a lot of problems for us. At Ball we say that we have to build quality in we can't 'inspect' it in. At the speeds we run manual inspection would be impossible." IIS has provided automated image-based inspectors for the plastics industry for about 10 years. In May '96 the company was acquired by Pressco Technology a maker of on-line sensing equipment for the metal can industry. The IIS technology has recently been consolidated into Pressco's ISO 9001-registered facility.