The industrial revolution sure did lay down the importance of manufacturing’s primary aspect, supply chain, and logistics. The constant manufacturing of goods, shipment, storage, the influx of commodities, tracking, tracing, labeling is quite the herculean task. Historically, tracing a product through a complicated supply chain has been a time taking and sometimes painful process, akin to finding a needle in a haystack. Whether it is a complex array of a global supply chain or individual process in a single facility, tracking and tracing were incredibly difficult, until a modern technological solution known as Machine Vision came up.
Machine Vision systems, which are also known as intelligent vision systems, facilitate product tracing through a nexus of supply chains while also setting up an automated system to gain accessibility into the production of both self and suppliers/customers.
The Growth of Vision-Based Track and Trace Solutions
Machine Vision track and trace market are estimated to reach a value of $3.90 billion by 2023, as per a reputed market research firm growing at a compound annual growth rate of 19%. Much of this estimation can be attributed to regulatory pressure and accountability, to prevent product recalls and quality. As per global association for vision information (AIA), industry initiatives such as The Produce Traceability Initiative, are encouraging for further implementation of vision-based track & trace applications by pulling in several parties from various domains and envisioning a more effective vision-based industry.
This growth lays down a generous amount of opportunities for innovative machine vision OEMs to mark their territory in such a rapidly growing industry.
The underlying principle of vision tracking
Machine vision track and trace solutions have introduced the most inclusive way to identify & track commodities as they move through complex global supply chains. As a result, there is a growing number of different industries that are adopting machine vision as their one-stop solution for track and trace operations.
For example, due to occurrences of instrument misplacement and hospital-contracted infections, the medical device industry has implemented track and trace systems to ensure safety and wellbeing. The food and beverage industry has extensively used machine vision track and trace to record point of origin of products and ingredients to address quality issues and rectify them.
Typically, pharmaceutical firms observe stringent rules and regulations to ensure their products can be tracked and traced from the production line to the end-user.
Here is how they implement vision-based track and trace:
- Containers/cartons carry a label detailing serial numbers, expiration dates, manufacturing dates printed on it. A lot of times, they are printed on such cartons with details that include but are not limited to the above-mentioned particulars.
- Packages are assigned a globally unique identifier, sometimes known as a GTIN (Global Trade Item Number), to allow tracking of packages worldwide. Earlier, these identifiers would be assigned manually but much has been changed as manufacturing systems autogenerate these identifiers, saves the record in a prime database.
- The identifiers serve as a trigger code of information about the said product and the information is used for verification purposes.
- And this is where machine vision solutions drop in. Machine vision track and tracing involve usage of high-tech cameras that can capture and read data from the labels/painted identifiers. They also perform optical character recognition (OCR) to read printed text.
- Once the printed text is read, the system cross-checks against the prime database and validates if the information retrieved from the labels match the corresponding data in the database. In case of a printed code being unreadable or not matching the existing codes in the prime database, the cartons are rejected.
Apart from track and trace, the manufacturing industry has witnessed a vast application of diverse machine vision solutions in many ways
As machine vision technology makes its footfall in more and more industries, the track and trace solutions are most likely to be at the forefront of this growing presence, contributing to supply chain visibility and product innovation. This pioneering technology has trailblazed its way towards the manufacturing industry vanguard and proved to be a much sought after system solution to scale all sorts of operations.
Global Association for Vision Information