Government regulations demanding traceability throughout the supply chain, and a desire to help conserve costs, is helping fuel the growing machine vision market. Intelligence firm ReportsNReports estimates sales for barcode readers, smart cameras and other tools will hit $2 billion USD by 2018.
Microscan is one firm that offers identification and inspection equipment. Its readers and cameras can be incorporated into packaging lines to help monitor, track and record critical data on products, labels and secondary packaging.
Cathy McBeth, representative for Washington-based Microscan, told FoodProductionDaily.com that machine vision technology can help conserve costs by proactively detecting and dealing with mistakes.
“Catching errors early in the packaging process continues to be a key objective for many food manufacturers," she said. “The further an error—be it a mislabelled product, mismatched lid/tub, or unreadable barcode—makes it into the supply chain, the more costly it will be to reconcile the error.”
Some retailers, McBeth pointed out, impose fines on suppliers for unreadable barcodes on food packaging. With smart cameras and data collectors integrated into their packaging line, food manufacturers can verify every single package before it hits the supply chain, thus avoiding fines and damaged reputation.
Ease of use
Complexity of machine vision technology has been a stumbling block for some firms. McBeth told FPD that technology suppliers are looking to simplify usability, to make it more accessible.
“Ease-of-use continues to be a key concern among food industry professionals, many of whom are looking for out-of-the-box solutions to meet their challenges,” she said. “As more manufacturers adopt automated ID and inspection, these technologies are becoming easier to implement and use.”
Microscan will exhibit its machine vision technology at PACK EXPO Las Vegas 2013, scheduled September 23-25. Its items include the line AutoVISION, with the Vision MINI and Vision HAWK smart cameras and AutoVISION software interface.
The manufacturer also offers a range of data collection products, such as laser barcode scanners, 2D imagers, handheld readers and more. For more information about PACK EXPO, visit the show web page.