Track & Trace – Camera Inspection & Rejection

Production lines working at speed of 75 to 250 cartons per minute & camera system will be inspecting data printed on cartons upon implementation of Track & Trace System. Camera system should be configured and well trained to read barcode as well as human readable printed matter as both should be inspected to take judgment of rejection.

It is very simple to say that Camera System is all about accuracy of reading at high speed using industrial grade camera system for inspection of barcode as well as GTIN, Batch No., Expiry Date, URS ( Unique Random Serial ) being printed and decoding it to compare with database. But its science starts from design of conveyor belt followed by best printing quality and further accurate camera capabilities with its integrated software algorithm to read correctly and finally to instruct rejection mechanism to throw rejected carton into bin. As per GS1 guidelines, barcode printed below C grade is not acceptable. Human Readable Data which is printed should be legible.

Fonts and its size to print human readable data on each carton should be well defined for better legibility and lesser rejection. We all very well know that creating a window on laminated carton will give us solution to print at a cheaper cost. But in cases where it’s a compulsion to print on laminated surfaces, your inspection mechanism should be able to perform there also due to reflection from glossy surface.

To create ideal track & trace system combination of various technology & its integration plays vital role. You should have well designed conveyor belt capable to handle transportation of various size cartons at appropriate and optimum speed along with printer which can print variable barcode and human readable data as per grade specified by GS1 on desired surfaces. Software designed using multi-tier architecture on Client Server model capable of handling multiple servers at multiple locations and communicating with all your packaging lines is the foremost requirement.

Accurate rejection mechanism on high speed conveyor, so as required carton is dropped in rejection bin is very critical, otherwise “OK” carton will go in rejection bin & “FALSE” carton will be supplied for further packaging. Eventually “FALSE” carton will not get verified by consumer/pharmacies for authenticity which will raise wrong impression of the company and even product may come back for Charge Backs. Air / Pneumatic rejection mechanism are widely adopted. Carton may have got rejected by Camera Inspection due to improper Barcode printing or mismatch of data within barcode. It also may have got rejected due to improper printing of Human Readable data which may not be legible to camera.

What is legible to camera is not always legible for Humans & what is legible to human eyes is not always legible for camera.

Data management of rejected serials and Carton shredding is also key task in protecting against counterfeiting. Proper procedures should be developed for daily monitoring. Like other audits procedures, Track & Trace audits will be well defined by each company wherein your inspection system should be able to give correct reasoning for each carton rejection.

Synchronization with various scientific platforms creating seamless integration is a real challenge in providing Track & Trace Solution.

If you buy a system giving 5% rejection you will end up losing Rs. 1,60,00,000 (Rs. 16 Million) yearly! Simply calculated considering a pharmaceutical company having 10 production lines working @ speed of 75 cartons per minute with just 8 hours a day operation, coming to 360000 of daily production from all lines. Daily wastage of 18000 cartons @ 5% from all lines and Rs. 2.50 per carton piece averagely will derive above figure. Each rejected carton is a cost to company & hence It’s better to buy a higher value solution with lesser rejection ratio, rather than xyz solution of lower value.

Rejection management is highly scientific and will become prime activity eventually. Only proper reporting system will help to study rejection patterns. You should be able to generate stats of GTIN wise rejection, Operator Wise, Shift wise, Batch wise, Lot wise, etc. In-depth study of effects of different carton sizes, conveyor adjustments, carton wise speed, printer adjustment, camera focus adjustment, rejection mechanism, etc. will help you to reduce rejection.