Fundamentally it needs to be able to read the information at the speed at which it will be passing by on the conveyor. After this it’s just a case of taking care of the signals in and out. The feeder will provide a ‘look now’ trigger and look for a ‘Judgement Complete’ and ‘Good’ signal back. If both of these are received the product is accepted, if just the firm, it is rejected and if neither are returned, the product is rejected, feeding is halted and an error message is displayed to say the camera is not functioning correctly.
1. Pattern Match (blob detection)
If there is a print there and it’s of a similar pattern to a reference sample. Though only the overall pattern is being matched, not each letter, nor the 2D barcode.
2. 2D barcode and OCV system
The camera takes an image and reads the information that it finds. It does this using a 2D datamatrix tool for the barcode and an “OCR” tool for the text. It can then compare the information read to reference information entered by the operator (which can be done via a “teach” facility using a reference sample) and decides if it matches (this is the ‘OCV’ bit – verification).
3. 2D barcode and OCV system with online grading
As 2. above, but the system also tells you how good a quality the print is – it ‘grades’ it – though this only applies to the barcode.
There is a key point to note on this: The ISO/IEC 15415 standard for the verification of datamatrix barcodes requires that a number of images are taken with the lighting coming from different angles each time. Clearly this is not possible on-line, so any system fitted to one of our feeders can only offer an “indicative” grade. Therefore the use of a bench top verifier that gives a grading to this standard and then compares the two results is also preferable.
The online system would normally err on the side of caution so a grade B on-line, may be an A under the verifier. This means that so long as the on-line system is passing grade Cs and above, they must be good.
Terminology is somewhat key here, when referencing to a “good quality code”, it would be better to simply say a “good code” i.e. the camera can confirm that the correct information is printed. Quality takes us into the realms of verification.
The benefits of the RF Compliance can be broken down into three main categories
1. Product handling
- Cartons are presented in their flat form to the coding/marking system which can then make a perfect print without concerns about the pack bulging, skewing or travelling away from the printhead
- Pre-printing of cartons allows for multiple lines, or even several hand-packing stations to be supplied
- No need to “break” a line to add a coding and inspection station
- A shingling collation conveyor allows for easy pick-up of a batch of coded product
2. Product inspection
Various inspection functions can be carried out to ensure both that the correct product is being used and also to confirm that the correct information has been added to the pack.
3. Product serialisation
Legislation requiring packs to bear a unique serialisation code is growing and the Compliance can either produce these codes internally, or receive them from an external source. With all serialised packs bearing a 2D datamatrix code, the need for perfect pack presentation is even more important.
The RF Compliance is our flagship feeding system, designed for highly regulated industries such as pharmaceutical and medical. The system is for off-line late-stage customisation of flat-form product packaging, required for product traceability. It can have one of two in-feed systems which makes it capable of handling almost any flat-form packaging. It is also usually equipped with an inspection system, product collation belt and a thermal inkjet printer.
The Compliance is capable of printing in OCR-B font as small as 1mm in height, datamatrix and QR codes in up to 900 dpi.