Vision Quality Scanning Systems
StreamTech integrates a wide variety of vision quality scanning systems to help provide redundant verification of our automation and also for general quality control. For foodstuff suppliers faced with proliferating SKUs and increasingly picky customers, it is critical to ensure that the right label is on the right product. This helps maintain customer goodwill and can help avoid dissatisfaction or even lawsuits. In high-volume, flexible packaging operations, supplier-provided label boxes are often opened and consumed during line changeovers and in the rush to switch, it is possible to load the line with the wrong labels. It’s also possible for your supplier to mix a few bundles of the wrong labels in their shipments. How do you manage your operation to reduce the risk of mis-labeling product? Traditional laser-based cameras are unable to to handle the wide variety of images and orientations necessary at the required speeds. 12-digit UPC barcodes may be in either a ladder or picket fence orientation; the picket fence is especially hard to read in a random orientation.
Full Order Scanning
The ability of camera-based vision quality scanning systems to read any number of bar codes across a wide swath, in random orientation down to a very small size lends itself to the types of fully automated quality checking that would not have been possible before. Cameras are also very fast making them excellent for high-speed, small item systems. An array of cameras operates as though it was a single camera as viewed by the control system. It looks for any codes that do not match what are expected and reports the discrepancy. Images showing the scanned carton are network archived for retrieval later if needed. The images include not only the codes but the actual product. This arrangement for a vision quality scanning system is ideal where the product is visible with an open box; it is less appropriate where product is many layers deep or the identifying code (UPC, EAN, etc.) is not visible.
Unit Vision Quality Scanning
StreamTech has had experience working with both the packaging and label suppliers and manufacturers & copackers who are users of the labels. Ensuring that the packaging is not only correct but also verified so as to provide “proof” is of high importance. At production rates of 300+ units per minute, even a short delay in catching an issue, no matter what the root cause, results in a lot of scrap and can result in mis-shipping customer product. Luckily vision quality scanning systems offer a compelling technology and their cost continues to become more favorable. Vision cameras have the processing power to read labels at very high rates (up to several hundred per minute) in random orientations, even 2D barcodes, and in situations where the code is compromised.
Here, the bottles are presented in a random orientation, so no-reads based on orientation are a matter of fact; the product labels were applied in batches, and the goal was to check for an incorrect label. UPC bar codes with picket-fence orientation become difficult to read with any technology once the product is turned, however UPC bar codes with ladder orientation can still be read at extreme angles by vision quality scanning systems. Therefore, no-reads were acceptable, though with a successful read of an incorrect label the customer wanted to receive a signal to shut down the line. Because the labels are loaded in batches of a thousand a mistake is still caught very quickly. StreamTech created a simple push-button interface and Boolean logic that allows the line operator to “teach in” the correct label at the start of a production run or changeover. With a good read-in the scanner ignores no-reads. But if it sees an incorrect code, an output is sent indicating a problem.
Set-up and Troubleshooting
Troubleshooting is enhanced in a number of ways. Camera-based vision quality scanning offers especially simple automatic setup routines that adjust lighting, brightness and contrast for maximum performance and ease-of-use. A special mode allow the operator to view the raw image feed from the camera. Both during setup and production, images can be saved to a microSD card on the camera or to a network drive for later review, and the configuration software can be viewed remotely for low-cost, extra troubleshooting. The camera offers the abiilty to program a number of different outputs directly onboard, such as beeps, lights and external sensors. One of our favorite tools is the selection of different modes: The camera can acquire images based on a sensor trigger input, or automatic regular cycling, or even automatic acquisition – whenever it sees an image it reports it.
- Proof of Fulfillment
- Ultra-High Read Rates
- Damaged, or partially obscured codes
- Remote support and troubleshooting
- Simultaneously process wide variety of codes
- Reduce customer back-charges
- Intuitive Controls
- Integrated with host data networks