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Automatic Inline label inspection System

Innovative, easy to train, inline label inspection on print/rewind application

The customer

The end customer is a pioneering organisation focused on the development and manufacturing of important and innovative vitro diagnostic tests for use in clinical laboratories.


Fisher Smith worked with Cobalt Systems Ltd on this project:

The Experts in Barcode Labelling Automation; Cobalt was established in 1997 and is a leading manufacturer of high performance real time print and apply solutions for pack case and pallet labelling.

Located in Crewe Business Park, Cheshire, Cobalt has an impressive record of growth based on meeting the requirements of the UK’s leading companies in the food manufacturing, personal care and pharmaceutical markets.

The Requirement

The customer pre-prints labels for use during product manufacture. The labels are printed and rewound for later use. The customer had a requirement to 100% inspect labels after printing and prior to rewinding.

Overview of the solution

We selected a Cognex 4096 pixel line scan camera mounted above the paper exit position of the Zebra label printer/rewinder. Illumination is provided by a TPL-Vision barlight. The camera is connected to a Cognex VC5 vision controller and an encoder wheel is used to provide the line synchronisation for the image acquisition. The VC5 runs Cognex’ Designer software from which a bespoke application has been written by Fisher Smith to provide all the facilities to enable the end customer to add/edit label setups as required.

There are four printers in total, each with a line scan camera/light/encoder assembly mounted at the paper exit point. There are two VC5 controllers, each with two connected cameras.

Vision technologies used

The Cognex Designer based bespoke application uses Cognex VisionPro vision tools to complete the inspection, using PatMax for registration and OCRMax and IDMax for the inspection of lot/date/gtin text fields and 1D/2D barcodes.

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