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How vision machines make sure your package arrives accurately

The speed at which new technologies are adapted and enhanced is growing at exponential rates. This is absolutely the case with vision machines and technology. Distribution centers are integrating this type of smart technology causing a spark in the machine vision equipment market. In fact, the global market for this type of equipment is expected to double by 2022.

With this type of growth and advancement, robots are seamlessly integrated into warehouses, increasing efficiencies, speeding up delivery times, reducing hazardous work, and more. The cameras that are integrated into these machines take this to the next level.

Robotic machine vision system in packaging warehouse

This History of Vision Machines

Vision machinery was developed to analyze images and take some type of smart action.

In today’s world, manufacturers greatly depend on vision systems, but this evolution didn’t happen overnight. In the 1950s and ’60s, the initial development of computer vision technology was under way, but it wasn’t until the ’80s that machine vision would assist in real world applications.

The initial application allowed vision systems to read letters and identify numbers and symbols. Costs of vision systems would begin to drop in the ’90s, and in today’s world they would be considered mainstream. When technology becomes cost effective and mainstream, the applications are endless.

What are the capabilities of vision technology today?

The power of connecting camera, computer, and machinery creates many advantages for the modern warehouse. These machines utilize vision systems (or cameras) to analyze a situation and facilitate an action or process with the associated machinery. Challenges are solved and problems are avoided with this powerful combination.  

What are the capabilities of the camera? Smart cameras are able to inspect labels, decipher specific colors, match images, identify product defects and more. The software behind the camera communicates specific messages to the machinery as a result of what the camera captures. The machinery is able to take certain actions depending on the message that is delivered from the software, such as lifting or sorting.

What does vision technology bring to packaging?

The ability to use cameras to inspect packages and take action speaks volumes to the enhancements that are experienced in smart distribution centers. The impacts have a 3-part ripple effect, starting at the packaging distributor and landing at the final customer.

The Packaging Distributor

If you walk into any smart distribution center today you will find vision systems being used at every point in the supply chain. How does this type of technology enhance a packaging distribution center?

  • Smart sensors increase production speeds through mechanisms such as line changeover, parameter changes, maintenance, and more.
  • Whole-box inspection, including everything from the label to the products inside the box. This is especially useful regarding accuracy when packaging numerous items in the same box.
  • Workers save time in the packing process because the vision machinery is able to provide the inspection needed to get the package out the door.

Business Implications

Outside of the end user, businesses are under pressure from their customers to provide the highest quality and deal with regulation issues as well. Vision machinery helps businesses deal with these challenges in a number of ways.

  • Greater accuracy in shipments means reduction of downtime to manage products arriving incorrectly.
  • Businesses have the ability to get supplies more quickly and at lower costs due to the overall reduction in waste of time and resources.
  • Accurate packaging means a happy customer, and with that comes brand loyalty and referrals.
  • Higher volume becomes possible. Companies that need to produce millions of products per day rely greatly on the inspection capabilities of vision systems. The ability to grow to these volumes is also enhanced because of the efficiencies that are developed.

The End User

The modern day customer is accustomed to fast shipping speeds, knowledgeable (and readily available) customer service agents, and other demands that are only possible because of tech advancements. While the end user has no contact with the vision machinery, they benefit greatly from the process.   

  • Packaging accuracy means customers don’t have to waste time returning items.
  • Less waste in resources provides an opportunity to save money on products.
  • Enhanced product quality is appealing to the end user. One example of cameras assisting in quality assurance is the technology that Pepsico developed to inspect chip bags to ensure minimal chip breakage.

Hughes Enterprises provides an economical solution for packaging machinery (including vision systems) to both large and small warehouses. We have seen countless businesses improve productivity and save money after integrating vision systems. Contact us to get more information on the packaging equipment that is right for your warehouse.

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