Barcode Scanners and Machine Vision Technology for Industrial Automation and Controls

In the manufacturing environment barcode scanners and machine vision products help to reduce costs, increase yields, improve product quality, and comply with industry regulations. Barcode scanners can be used to gather data for real-time visibility of operations and for historical record keeping (track and trace). Industrial machine vision systems enable automated inspection and process control.

Successful industrial machine vision and barcode applications are based on rugged hardware and reliable software dedicated for use in factory automation. Microscan's line of high-performance and high speed barcode readers, machine vision systems, and machine vision lighting is backed by excellent customer service and over 30 years of proven performance in the field. By choosing Microscan, you can have confidence that you are consistently gathering the data and implementing the controls necessary to minimize downtime, enable efficiencies, and go beyond simply complying with industry and governmental regulations.

Barcode Scanners

A barcode is a machine-readable symbol that can be printed on a label and applied (print-and-apply) or directly marked (DPM) on a part, product, or package. Typically the barcode contains encoded data about that specific item (unique item identification or serialization) or contains encoded data about a batch or lot of items. Barcode scanners are used to capture and read this data to track and identify parts throughout the supply chain. In production this data can be used to automate operations, enable quality control, and save time, money, and manpower for manufacturers.
Barcode Scanner Solutions for Manufacturing
Fast, accurate data collection is imperative for keeping production lines moving efficiently in today's manufacturing environments. Rugged, networked barcode scanners can both acquire data and trigger actions within plant operations. The use of barcodes, as well as 2D formats such as Data Matrix, has become an integral part of most lean manufacturing best practice.
Applications of Barcode Technology
Barcode technology facilitates critical applications like quality control, work-in-process (WIP) monitoring, sortation, and lot tracking. A common application for barcode technology is to Poka-yoke or error proof a step of the process. For example, many packaging systems use barcode technology to ensure a match of the product to the package prior to insertion.

Barcode Readers and 2D Imagers
A barcode scanner (also called a barcode reader) is used to extract and decode data from 1D (linear) barcodes or 2D (Data Matrix) barcodes. Due to their high speed and ease of use, laser barcode scanners are most often used to read 1D barcodes. Barcode imagers (which take a picture like a digital camera) can be used to read 1D and 2D codes and optical characters (OCR). High speed and accuracy are crucial in demanding manufacturing environments; Microscan provides reliable reading solutions for barcodes, 2D symbols, and optical characters.

Machine Vision Systems

Machine vision is the automated extraction of useful information from digital images. In an industrial setting, machine vision systems take the capabilities of barcode imager technology a step further, using image capture and analysis to automate tasks such as inspection, gauging, and counting - in addition to reading barcodes and optical characters.
Machine Vision Solutions for Manufacturers
Machine vision systems have helped manufacturers worldwide improve product quality, decrease costs, and ensure customer satisfaction. Smart cameras and PC-based vision systems are standard in automated inspection systems. While human inspectors can visually inspect parts to judge the quality of workmanship, machine vision systems use advanced hardware and software components to perform similar functions at higher speeds, reliably, and with greater precision.

Applications of Machine Vision
Machine vision is ideally suited for inspections that require high speed, high magnification, around-the-clock operation, and/or repeatability of measurements. For example, in plastic injection molding operations machine vision technology can be used to reject short-shots (parts with missing features). In beverage filling operations machine vision systems can verify fill levels.

Components of Machine Vision Systems
A complete machine vision solution consists of a combination of hardware and software that varies based on the specific application requirements. Typically a light, a lens, a camera, a processing unit, communication infrastructure, I/O, and host software is required. Microscan's comprehensive line of machine vision products is based on our industry-leading, scalable machine vision software, Visionscape. This software can be deployed in our smart cameras, PC-based Gigabit Ethernet (GigE) cameras, and board-based machine vision systems. Microscan also provides a complete line of accessories including lenses, cables, and NERLITE machine vision lighting.

Machine Vision Lighting

Proper lighting is often the most important variable for achieving accurate, repeatable results in any machine vision or barcode imaging application. A well planned lighting solution will optimize the performance of a machine vision system.
Machine Vision Lighting Solutions
An effective machine vision lighting configuration will provide a consistent environment that maximizes feature contrast while minimizing background contrast, enabling the camera to "see" the feature under inspection and to optimize system performance (high SNR).

Machine Vision Lighting Considerations
The geometry, diffusion, and wavelength (color) of lighting, as well as environmental factors, should be one of the first considerations when setting up a machine vision application. Microscan's NERLITE brand of reliable, LED-based industrial machine vision lighting includes ring lights, dome lights, backlights, diffuse-on-axis lights (DOAL) and other designs to choose from. All of these designs are available in white illumination and multiple wavelengths including red, blue, UV, and infrared.

Machine Vision Lighting in Barcoding Applications
Precision lighting solutions can enhance the performance of many imager-based Auto-ID/barcoding applications as well as machine vision applications. Greater light intensity allows for higher shutter speeds which in turn enable faster line speeds. Also, with many direct part mark (DPM) applications, the correct lighting geometry can enable reliable decode rates.
Microscan provides a complete line of barcode and 2D readers, machine vision systems, and machine vision lighting for industrial automation and control applications. With our highly skilled global integrator network and reliable barcode sensors and machine vision systems, you will be able to implement a system to consistently gather data and/or integrate the controls necessary to maximize efficiency, safety, and profitability.

Please don't hesitate to contact us if you would like to learn more about these technologies or about our other application solutions.