Totes have become essential within warehouses or manufacturing facilities – they are a versatile solution for safely moving goods through conveyor and sortation systems. They are small, stackable and sturdy enough to prevent goods from getting damaged.

However, once goods are picked and reach their final destination, companies need an accurate and reliable way to return empty totes to the warehouse or production floor. Manually sorting totes is not only time-consuming but an unproductive use of resources. 

Warehouse management systems can keep a log of the contents of totes using barcodes, however, this isn’t an accurate or reliable system for tracking empty totes. Totes can still have products inside them which the barcode system has missed or isn’t aware of as they can’t physically see inside the totes. The challenge is to find a more efficient method of checking totes. 

An automated solution for the fast sortation of empty totes

Industry 4.0 vision systems can now be utilised to automate the inspection of totes. The application of deep learning allows camera systems to learn and recognise the difference between full and empty totes. The systems can take images of the inside of totes and work as intelligently as a pair of human eyes would.

Vision systems can inspect the inside of totes and then divert empty totes to designated areas so they can be refilled for new orders on the warehouse or manufacturing floor. 

Inspecting empty totes for labels or liquids

Additionally, deep learning vision systems can detect any items which should not be inside the empty totes such as stickers or liquids. Stickers can be obstructive or leave marks on products – it is also important for operators to be able to know where they have come from and what goods may be missing labels. This would be difficult to do when manually sorting a high number of totes at fast speeds.

Intelligent vision systems can also inspect empty totes for liquids, such as water, which has the potential to damage the conveyor system.

Vision automation – critical for meeting increasing demands

Vision inspection systems are becoming crucial for automating fast warehouses and manufacturing facilities. They offer intelligent solutions which can work at fast speeds to keep up with the ever-increasing demands of manufacturing and e-commerce. This is allowing managers to deploy manual labour to other tasks and areas for increased efficiency. 

To find out how vision automation can increase throughput and accuracy in your facility, contact the team at Bytronic Vision Automation.