At the manufacturing plant and distribution centre of a global consumer product manufacturer, boxes of powder products are produced and packaged ready for distribution.

As part of the vital pre-shipment labelling process, approximately 150 boxes are stacked on each pallet which is then stretch wrapped before a label is printed and affixed. This ensures complete product traceability and accurate delivery of goods to their destination.

Previously, information on the pallets’ contents was stored on a PLC. However, this was not 100% accurate and occasionally led to mislabelling. To overcome this and ensure products were shipped accurately, a new system was required to identify all the products within one pallet. Bytronic, experts in test and measurement, automation and process control solutions, developed a system that could cope with these challenges. Responsible for the complete design and installation, Bytronic undertook extensive testing using a Cognex DataMan barcode reader with enhanced Field of View (FOV) capabilities. This high performance camera delivered significantly improved results at a lower cost option than a laser scanner system.

Stewart Jackson of Bytronic commented, “Cognex products consistently deliver unrivalled read rates across a wide range of applications. A laser scanner would not be able to handle the challenges of this application, which is vital for maintaining accurate product distribution.”

The system uses a DataMan 303 camera permanently installed on the line. Only one camera is required per line due to the expanded field of view technology. The pallets leave the stretch wrapper on a conveyor and move past the camera, which reads the barcode on each box contained within the pallet. The barcodes can appear anywhere within a 500mm tall x 1m wide FOV with the 1-D barcode code being only 60x30mm. The camera is integrated to the pallet labeller via Ethernet to send the scanned codes and set up the appropriate pallet label, which is then affixed automatically to the pallet ready for shipment. With line speeds of approx. 0.5m/s processing around three pallets per minute, the system has provided a 100% read rate.


– Source: Food&Drink International