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Eldad Ben
by Eldad Ben Shalom on July 6, 2015
posted in Solutions & Applications

This is the second of three articles about OCR vision applications that use CIJ printers. In the first article I discussed the typical print output achieved with CIJ printers at high speed. I showed real images of print examples and showed the high degree of variability among similar characters printed by the same printer head.

Once you understand the nature of printer output on high-speed production lines, and have noticed the high variation between one print to the next print, you can begin to identify possible solutions. But before you design your OCR vision solution, you should become familiar with the common defects that are relevant to the specific line you intend to automate. Factory quality managers, technical staff, printer technicians, and any other factory staff who keep records of production errors can help you to identify the common defects on any given production line. The defect identification stage is the most critical. Your goal is to understand the real needs of the customer. Many times the customer needs professional help in order to know what real problems he or she is facing on the production line. It’s not always immediately easy to pinpoint defects and other problems, but there are reliable ways to do so.

Some helpful questions to ask quality managers or other technical staff during this critical defect identification stage are:

by Alex Pete on May 8, 2015
posted in Product Development

In industrial manufacturing, last thing you want to deal with is unreadable barcodes interfering with production. Decoding failures may require downtime for diagnostics and equipment adjustments, which results in unforeseen costs, lost opportunities to meet business objectives, and a lot of frustration. After all, using barcodes in production is supposed to streamline operations, not complicate them! But the fact is that even after you go through the checklist of standard to-dos to prepare your operations with quality barcodes and ideal barcode-reading conditions, some circumstances may be beyond your control and unpredictable no reads may still result.

But help is available. Instead of focusing on the condition of your barcode or the setup of your operations, you may be able to attack barcode readability issues from the barcode reader itself by using more powerful decoding algorithms. In this blog post, I’ll offer some advice about how you can dedicate less of your limited resources and valuable time to barcode reading and more to getting business done.

Eldad Ben
by Eldad Ben Shalom on April 28, 2015
posted in Solutions & Applications
Untitled Document

Insights about OCR Vision Applications with CIJ Printers (Part 1 of 3)

One Monday morning I find this email in my mailbox sent by a customer:

‘Hi Eldad, how is it going? Can you help me with this application: I have a CIJ printer installed on a high speed production line. Several lines of text are printed on each product. I need a vision system for inline inspection of the printed characters. I try using OCR tool, then compare the data read by the camera with a data string sent from the printer and finally generate a warning output signal when mismatch occurs. I find it hard to train the system with one font library to solve all products. I still have lots of false rejects, where the camera rejects good products. I’m on it for several days and still cannot make it work – can you advise?’

by Jason Dobbs on April 3, 2015
posted in Industry Trends

As technology advances, manufacturing is becoming more and more automated. Robots are becoming the standard in most manufacturing lines that require fast, repetitive, precise placement of components. Many other types of automated equipment are being used for inspection to ensure components are placed in specified locations, check for missing components, and ensure fluid levels are at the exact level. Traceability information is collected by reading barcodes on parts in production so Operations knows exactly where every product in the manufacturing plant is at any given time and where each product has been. In order to achieve this type of automation we embed devices like machine vision cameras to give equipment eyes for visual inspection, and auto ID imagers and laser scanners to allow equipment to trace product through the manufacturing process. When developing your automated equipment it is imperative to choose a machine vision system, auto ID imager, or laser scanner that fits your precise requirements. There are five things to consider when choosing an embed­ded machine vision camera, auto ID imager, or laser scanner for an application: barcode type and orientation, inspection parameters, appli­cation speed, integration space, and data communication needs.


by Robert Andersson on January 2, 2015
posted in Solutions & Applications

We frequently get support questions on how to acquire and store data generated by our machine vision or Auto ID readers in some form of file. Microsoft Excel is a widely used tool by many businesses to manage, process, and share data. In this post I demonstrate a way to integrate our Ethernet devices—such as the Vision HAWK and Vision MINI Xi Smart Cameras, and our QX Hawk and MINI Hawk Auto ID readers—and their output into an Excel sheet.

How do you actually retrieve and archive the data that a barcode scanner or smart camera generates? This is a question that we as Solution/Application Engineers often face. In particular, is there a direct way to get the data straight into an Excel sheet without the need for any temporary flat-file storage? Such solution would circumvent any intermediate data import or other data staging procedure, creating a lean framework for data capture and management.

A data management nightmare indeed, Microsoft Excel is still by far the most widely-adopted Business Intelligence tool across all domains of business life. Now, how do you make a smart camera or barcode scanner write its output directly into an Excel sheet without any flat-file data staging or third party software components?

Excel makes use of the MS Windows event-driven programming language called VBA (Visual Basic for Applications). This gives access to the Windows API and the many functionalities offered in the Windows DLLs. In Excel this facility is referred to as 'writing a macro'.

Data arriving over TCP/IP to a Windows host system is being managed by the Windows Socket or Winsock. This Winsock API makes it possible to read and write data across TCP/IP connections.

As with most programming endeavors, all roads lead to Rome, and I took one of them (which, admittedly, was mostly copied and pasted from people knowing more than I do). The VBA code contains one standard module and a class module, see Figure 1. The standard module sets up the connection by calling the class module with arguments such as IP address and port number using user input. The class module initializes the connection and manages the data capture and data writing into the sheet.

by Jocelyn Chen on August 7, 2014
posted in Industry Trends

Since its invention in 1994, the Data Matrix code has become the industry standard in automated tracking and traceability applications in manufacturing, supply chain operations, and beyond. From the UID directive by the U.S. Department of Defense, mandating that a 2D code be included on all government-furnished military and non-military equipment, to new UDI regulations on pharmaceutical and medical devices to also include the 2D codes, Data Matrix has become a staple in most industries worldwide. The code has seen rapid adoption in areas where small footprint and high readability are vital, such as on automotive parts of various substrates, small or space-restricted PCBs, and highly-regulated pharmaceutical labels and packaging. Its ability to store thousands of characters of data within an extremely compact size, including its generous reading tolerance down to 2.5 mil code size, set Data Matrix apart from other barcode symbologies.

This year marks the 20-year anniversary of the Data Matrix code, since its invention by International Data Matrix (I.D. Matrix), a key innovator in Microscan’s 30-year corporate lineage. With the passing of this milestone, it’s only fitting that we shine a spotlight on the impact this symbology has made in helping manufacturers do more with less in automatic identification. In this blog, we’ll take a look at how the Data Matrix code is being used in major industries and by our own customers.


As consumer electronic devices become smaller and smaller, so must their internal components. But just because a microchip in your smart phone has shrunk to only a fraction of the size of its late-19th-century predecessors doesn’t mean that we can indentify it in any more concise terms...
by Shaina Warner on May 22, 2014
posted in Industry Trends

Prevention has become just as important as production in today’s manufacturing world. As wonderful as it is to see dollars streaming in as a result of products going out the door, profits can easily be affected if quality or compliance issues arise after products have made their way to the customer. More and more, the costs associated with producing less-than-optimal-quality products – from customer fines and industry fees to product recalls – are compelling businesses to invest in systematic preventative measures to ensure that they continue to see healthy returns for their production efforts.

Machine vision inspection plays a major role in ensuring production quality. Using automated tools such as cameras and software to read barcodes, check labels, and inspect products for defects, vision systems provide the equivalent of having several sets of eyes constantly monitoring your operations, making decisions about which products are up to par and which should be rejected. Many businesses rely on machine vision to automate quality control on their production lines with real success, but as good as a vision system may be, it is only one tool in helping companies maintain accountability for their products and activities in production...
by Shaina Warner on March 19, 2014
posted in Industry Trends
If you work in PCB assembly or electronics manufacturing environments, you’re probably already familiar with PCB “panels,” or multiple, identical PCBs arranged together in a grid. The process by which these grids are produced is appropriately called panelization, and there are key benefits to its practice.

Why Panelize?

When you get right down to it, PCB panelization is all about cutting costs and increasing assembly efficiency. If a manufacturer’s aim is to assemble several devices with identical PCBs, then it stands to reason that processing multiple PCBs at once rather than each PCB one at a time could have a positive impact on the bottom line. Panels can be loaded into an assembly line and run through SMT operations much faster than single boards alone, maximizing a manufacturer’s efficiency and yielding more PCBAs in exponentially less time.

So, panelization helps manufacturers do more with less (higher velocity). That’s great! But the risk with any time-saving benefit is that it may come at the expense of product or process integrity. As with any advanced system, great care must be taken to ensure that there are appropriate mechanisms in place to support it.

What’s the Problem?

Conscientious manufacturers know that the key to quality and efficient production is having a firm grip on production data. In electronics assembly, with so many parts in the mix, it’s critical to ensure that a reliable system is in place to log and track components so that you always know...
by Jonathan Ludlow on January 29, 2014
posted in Solutions & Applications

Can these codes be read by your scanners or readers? Or by your customers'?

Since barcode quality grading is becoming a hot topic – and believe me it is – here are eight things to remember when the topic turns to 1D or 2D code verification.
  1. Verification or Validation?
    The Two V’s mean very different things. In conversation, I have heard the terms “Verification” and “Validation” used interchangeably. In the world of auto ID and labeling, however, they mean very different things. Verification means grading a 1D or 2D code against a specific standard with the intention of predicting how easy it will be to read – or whether it will read at all. Validation means checking the format of the content of the code to see if the agreed formatting standard has been applied. Put simply Verification is Penmanship while Validation is Grammar and Content.

    The tips in this blog address verification (can it be read?), which is sometimes called grading.

  2. Keeping up with Standards: ANSI, ISO, and AIM.
    The thing to remember is that there is a single standard for 1D code grading – ISO 15416. It used to be called ANSI grading and use letter grades (A to F). Now ISO 15416 specifies that 1D barcode quality should be reported using number grades (4.0 to 0.0). Of course everybody still uses letter grades – old habits die hard. But in a true verification report for ISO 15416, numbers will always accompany letter grades...
by Shaina Warner on December 18, 2013
posted in Industry Trends

Electronic devices like smart phones continue to evolve into more compact and capable machines. We rely on our devices to help us manage even more daily tasks, critical transactions, and personal information than ever before. Consumer electronics manufacturers are therefore under tight scrutiny for their ability to produce technology of the utmost quality for seamless integration into our lives. This also means that, to stay competitive, manufacturers must be capable of producing higher-quality products at even higher production speeds – that is, do it better and do it faster than anyone else. How do these companies maintain their competitive edge?

The route taken by most of the major players in the consumer electronics market is the complete automation of critical processes in their assembly and manufacturing lines. Using automated ID and inspection, each piece in an electronics device from the chip to the chassis can be automatically tagged and tracked to ensure...