Sunday, July 28, 2013

Machine vision in traceability systems

Cognex and Microscan both talk a lot about their code reading solutions. What I’ve not seen though is much explanation of why and how you’d want to deploy this technology. Now if you’re in the pharmaceutical industry you probably know this stuff, but if not, I suggest you take a look at the “What is Pharma Track-n-Trace” on the website of Omega Design Corporation.

In particular, take a look at two of the videos linked from that page. Start with “OmegaTrack Demo at PEI 2010. Here the President of Omega takes the viewer through a packaging line, pointing out the various vision systems employed.

Two systems on that line caught my eye. The first is the LabelSync Vision Station. This uses the Cognex OmniView tool to image the full 360 of the surface of a tablet container. A fifth camera reads the datamatrix code printed on the bottom of the container and software compares it with the code on the label.

The second system is at the end of the line, and unfortunately is not discussed in any detail. Again, it’s a multi camera system checking that all the codes are correct. What intrigued me though is the container codes are read through the clear plastic packaging. If you’ve ever attempted that task you’ll know it’s decidedly non-trivial. I’d love to know what lighting they use – would polarization have a part to play?

So there you have it: machine vision, actually it’s Cognex machine vision, in a track-and-trace application. I’m just curious why I haven’t seen it in any Cognex marketing material.

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