Comparing Two Approaches to Automated Packaging Inspection

by | EPIC Machine Vision

High speed packaging inspections help reduce scrap rates, improve product traceability, and protect both your brand and your customers. When done right, these inspections are seamlessly integrated into your lines, helping maintain high throughput rates and providing much more accurate inspections than manual methods. These inspections can look at:

  • Artwork
  • Barcodes
  • 2D matrix codes
  • Expiration and date codes
  • Allergen information

And verify their presence, correctness, and readability. However, selecting the right approach to packaging inspection is critical.

In the video below we compare two popular approaches to packaging inspection in our vision lab: area scan vs. line scan.  Both can inspect at high rates, but both are not applicable to every product or situation. Watch the video below for a brief overview of the two technologies:


Comparison: Area vs. Line Scan Inspections

Both inspection methods are very versatile and accurate, but are not interchangeable. At a high level, we explore the benefits and differences below:

Area inspections use a dome light and a fixed position area camera to capture images of labels or surfaces as they pass by the camera. Area inspections:

  • Can perform multiple inspections at once (i.e. barcode reading and allergen information verification in the example above)
  • Can be used on flat or curved surfaces, or with various types of packaging containers
  • Has a more limited field of view than a line scan camera

Line scan inspections use a line scan camera to build high resolution images of labels or packaging as they pass by, enabling them to:

  • Perform more inspections at once compared to area scan cameras
  • Have a wider field of view and higher resolution capabilities than area cameras
  • Take up less space on the line than an area inspection
  • Be frequently used in web or film inspection applications. Line scan is usually not be appropriate for non-flat container inspection

Implementing successful packaging inspections

Successful vision solutions take into account your products, your packaging and your plant operating environment. For low-speed, relatively simple inspections (just date-code verification for example), a simple smart camera installation may do the trick. However, multi-point inspections, line speeds 50 ppm, packaging glare, or high variances in print quality on your line can make these inspections more challenging and may require consultation with an expert vision integrator. 

To talk to a vision expert about how to improve your bottom line with automated packaging inspection, contact EPIC.

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