SICK Automation, in collaboration with AutoCoding Systems, has introduced what it says is the world’s first fully automated, smart vision inspection system for printed coding and marking on food, pharmaceutical and general consumer goods packaging.
“The 4Sight Automatic Print Inspection System achieves significant savings in day-to-day production stoppages for producers by delivering an error-proof, high-speed inspection system for printed codes such as dates, batch and line numbers,” said Mike Hughes, Managing Director of AutoCoding Systems.
“This breakthrough innovation, achieved with the AutoCoding 4Sight software operating a SICK InspectorP 2D vision camera, enables direct closed-loop communication of the printed message from any brand of printer using standard inkjet, laser or thermal transfer technologies.”
According to the Hughes, this direct communication capability removes costly “nuisance stops” and saves production time, compared to conventional vision systems. “As conventional systems take time in learning thousands of images and fonts as well as the surrounding packaging design context, there is a lengthy process before production inspections can take place.”
The system is one of the first to be developed using SICK’s AppSpace eco-system. “With the power of the SICK AppSpace development environment, we were able to draw on the strengths of AutoCoding to think about print inspection systems in a completely new way,” he said.
“The result is a directly-networked connection between the printer and the 2D vision camera, coupled with the 4Sight software’s unique ability to self-optimise the code inspection process.”
As the artificial intelligence is already pre-trained in the application, the AutoCoding system knows exactly the printed message it is looking for, Hughes said. This means the system adjusts automatically when the printer changes to a new job.
The application requires zero font-teaching, alongside configuration features, regions of interest on the packaging, or even fixturing against an edge or logo. A simple, user-guided, self-set up process configures the optimal camera settings per customers’ needs.