Ensuring surgical light quality through Data Matrix code readers

21 November 2012

Germany company, Berchtold GmbH & Co. KG, manufactures surgical lights. To ensure rigorous quality standards are met for 100% of the lights manufactured, the company relies on processes for complete traceability of all production steps and product components. This is accomplished by reading Data Matrix codes for the main components using DataMan 8100 industrial ID readers from Cognex.

The LED lights comprise of 52 LED PCBs with specially developed lens units. Each of the PCBs has its own individual Data Matrix code. Before being assembled, the code of each LED unit is read with a DataMan 8100. In the event of an error, this makes it possible to accurately determine the production batch of the PCBs used in each assembled light. In this way any potential shortcomings of third-party products can be precisely located and recalls initiated if necessary.

Every step is documented on a PC. Key components are identified before use by giving them each a Data Matrix code that is read with one of three ID readers. The system only accepts the work as actually completed after the scan, and the subsequent step can only then be executed. "This is how we make sure that each item is actually assembled and how we know exactly which component is in each operating room light," explained Peter Rönnberg, process engineer at Berchtold. Throughout the service life of a light, the company can see when, where and how a product was made and with what parts. With duplicates codes on the light packaging, a traceable logistics process can also be ensured.

After the final calibration of the LED lights, the set values are added to the product’s data record. There is now detailed and complete documentation on the entire manufacturing process of each surgical light.

Berchtold chose the DataMan 8100 ID reader for its robustness, the reliability of the read data and the wireless data transmission. The Data Matrix codes on the LED PCBs, measure just 5 x 5mm, yet can be easily read. In addition, the readers are believed to be the only portable industrial barcode readers with an industrial Ethernet port. Another crucial point for Rönnberg was the flexible way they can be used as both a mobile and a stationary ID reader. "We have some process steps where it is easier to put the PCB under a stationary scanner to read the code so it’s good that we can convert the Cognex DataMan from a mobile handheld device into a fixed-position ID reader with just a simple holder.”

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