A Well-Rounded Solution for Reading Barcodes on Cylindrical Containers

Reading labels or verifying barcodes on cylindrical containers can pose difficult choices for machine vision integrators. The choices get even more complicated when the application involves high-volume processes, small-diameter bottles, or both.

Conventional solutions often favor complex systems that connect multiple cameras, trigger sensors and programmable logic controllers (PLCs) to a PC host, which also require custom programming and frequent calibration. In addition to being costly, this complexity is problematic for pharmaceutical applications. Process validation as part of CFR 2.11 U.S. Food & Drug Administration compliance, for example, is challenging enough without having to also scale such systems across multiple product lines and packaging locations.

The solution to the problem is a matter of perspective — a 360° perspective — as demonstrated by the BottleScan 360 Reading-Verification System from Vision and Control Systems (VCS). This elegant, noncontact solution reads and verifies barcodes on round containers at high speeds, regardless of bottle orientation. It can also provide a visual audit record to limit risk.

The BottleScan 360 Reading-Verification System mounts six Cognex DataMan 362X barcode readers in a circle around the production line with an optional seventh DataMan 362X mounted directly above the production line for lid barcode verification. The system is both simple yet adaptable thanks in part to the liquid lens of the DataMan readers. Such lenses can quickly change focal length based on the machine vision program during changeover, eliminating the need for technician intervention if the system is used to inspect multiple product lines.

Each DataMan unit also has its own code-reading program, which can either return a barcode’s alphanumeric value to a system’s PLC for validation or send the data to a serialization controller to confirm serial numbers. This further helps to streamline complexity and expense by eliminating the need for remote PC processing.

VCS’s BottleScan 360 System can read a wide range of 1-D and 2-D machine-readable codes on virtually any curved surface, thanks to special algorithms, such as HotBars and PowerGrid from Cognex, that compensate for partially occluded, distorted, and other troubled codes. No mechanical adjustments are required.

Images also can be archived through an optional Cognex Explorer Real Time Monitoring system, providing a visual audit trail in the event of customer questions or concerns

Getting started
The BottleScan 360 Reading-Verification System assures companies that the correct label is on the bottle. At a cost of only $40,000–$50,000, the system saves companies money compared to traditional barcode-reading and label-verification solutions while providing an optional complete audit trail to limit risk and liability. And for cases where technicians are having to monitor lines to provide some form of code validation — such as in bottling applications — the system offers less than one year payback based solely on the quality assurance and labor reduction.

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