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Automated Packaging Inspections for Better Quality and Labor Savings – Tri-Phase Automation

Automated Packaging Inspections for Better Quality and Labor Savings

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A Smart Way to Automation Packaging Inspections

Sometimes a product’s package doesn’t get the same attention as the product’s actual design or manufacturing, but when that package is a customer’s first interaction with your product or brand, it can mean everything. The wrong packaging, label, or date; a missing label; or poor package or label quality can create a negative experience with your brand, and it can create embarrassing or even dangerous mix-ups for you and your customers.

This is why many companies are implementing or expanding automated packaging inspections to automatically inspect, verify and match the right package for every product. In a world where customers are demanding increasingly better product quality and safety, and regulatory requirements are expanding as a result, it’s more important than ever to focus on your packaging and not just your products.

A Smart Way to Automate Packaging Inspections

One effective way to do this is by using machine vision and fixed industrial scanning technology in your packaging operations. You can install small but rugged sensors that can not only capture 1D and 2D barcodes and hi-resolution images but also conduct instantaneous and automated packaging checks with machine precision.

For example, using Zebra’s hardware and software platform for machine vision and fixed scanning, you can capture and inspect images at high speeds and automatically detect everything from a label that’s missing or has the wrong use-by date to incorrect information or poor print quality on individual, inner, or outer product packaging.

You can also verify that the correct products are matched with the right packaging, check dates and lot codes, inspect labels and packaging for correct content, and check kits or assemblies to ensure the correct components are included. You can also use Zebra’s sensors to track and trace products as they move through your production processes, so they can be automatically routed down the right packaging lines and matched to the right packages.

For example, you can capture barcodes to identify different product boxes travelling on the same conveyor and automatically route each type of box to a specific diverter line so a robot can package and palletize it.

Additionally, Zebra’s sensors are able to detect problems with products themselves, such as contamination, defects and non-conformity or incorrect assemblies, missing components, incorrect shape or colors, and a virtually limitless number of other possibilities.

It all happens with the precision of machine vision and automation, which is able to detect issues that are often invisible or unnoticeable to the human eye, or impossible to check manually on high-speed production lines. By combining high-performance sensors, intelligent algorithms, and the right combination of lighting, lensing, and filters, you can capture the right barcodes and images you need, even in industrial environments with low light and with products and packaging moving on high-speed conveyors.

Importantly, you can do all of this automatically, letting the sensors and Zebra’s software do all the work. They capture each image, analyze it, and send pass/fail results to your industrial systems, with optional alerts to instantly indicate when a failure occurs. They also help you maintain a digital record of any result, should you need to review an image and investigate a particular problem.

How Packaging Inspections Setups Work with Zebra Solutions

To get a packaging inspection job up and running, you just install the Zebra sensor, power it via 24VDC, USB-C or PoE, and connect it to your industrial networks and systems via USB-C, Serial or Ethernet. Each device includes support for Ethernet, ProfiNet, CC-Link, ModBus and TCP/IP. You also set up any external or modular integrated lighting, liquid lens or C-mount lens you might need.

Zebra’s Aurora Focus software helps you through the setup process, with extremely easy-to-use tools, automated configuration and adjustments that are as simple as clicking on a button or moving a slider in your software.

The software includes built-in videos and guided tutorials so you can learn as you go, and all you need is one Zebra device and its one software application to enable and set up either machine vision or fixed scanning. Each sensor has both capabilities, and you can start with fixed scanning and unlock the machine vision capabilities with a simple software license upgrade.

Everything is plug-and-play, and once you’re capturing and analyzing the images you need, the rest is automated for you. That means you don’t have to have workers conducting manual packaging checks or relying on the human eye, which can easily miss problems, especially at high speeds. Instead, you can save labor and cost by needing fewer workers involved in your packaging processes, and you can reallocate existing resources to other tasks.

Learning More About Automated Packaging Inspections

At Tri-Phase Automation, we’ve been working with Zebra, Matrox Imaging and other packaging inspection and industrial automation technologies and software for over 25 years. As experts in this space, we can help you evaluate some of the latest innovations in packaging and product inspection and recommend strategies, tips and solutions to help you automate more of your processes and boost quality control.

To learn more, check out our Zebra industrial automation page, to schedule a consultation with us to get started. We’d be glad to help you explore the possibilities and see what might work best for your business.