Vision system powers award-winning serialisation compliance solution

10 October 2016

A turnkey validated vision system from Olmec-UK is a core component of the ‘SerialTrac’ serialisation solution developed by Domino Printing Sciences which recently won the Most Innovative Processing or Packaging Machine’ award at the 2016 PPMA (Processing and Packaging Machinery Association) awards.

SerialTrac provides item-level serialisation capability necessary in the pharmaceutical industry to meet the EU Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD). It is a validated out of the box solution that follows the systematic aggregation (carton to bundle, bundle to case, case to pallet) approach used on primary packaging lines by many smaller to medium sized manufacturers. 

The simple but high-quality vision system supplied by Olmec-UK consists of 3 Basler GigE Vision area scan cameras and a Microscan ID40 fixed-mount barcode reader. Code reading, verification and grading is carried out using Microscan Frontrunner software running on a Beckhoff industrial PC that is also running a soft PLC program with SQL database and RIO. Illumination is provided using angled LED bar lights in accordance with the ISO specification. The inspection system can handle up to 600 parts/minute and deliver all the relevant ISO data to facilitate compliance decisions.

Key to the performance of the system is its ability to manage the real-time data handling and manipulation given the volume of data that needs to be checked. The vision system handles the complex data generation and management needed to link production management databases, set up the inspection process, create codes and inspect them, handle aggregation requirements and return data to the factory level data repository. 

Once the production order starts, non-predictive encrypted serial numbers are securely generated and sent to both the printer and the vision system controller. The vision system reads and verifies the 2D and human readable codes, checks the authenticity of the serialisation code and that it is not duplicated with any previously generated code and grades the 2D code.
After serialisation the cartons are usually aggregated into bundles, cases. The vision system can create relationships between the aggregated products and the next level, either by scanning the cartons individually or taking an image of the aggregated group and reading the individual codes. A label for the aggregation is then printed, containing a 2D datamatrix code, the GTIN, a new serial number and the relationship. This process can be done manually or the system can be linked into an automatic bundler. 

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