Eyeing Electronic Pedigrees
Label and package inspection systems may be your first step in building an electronic product history.
By Daphne Allen
CIVisionï¿½s RFID inspection system verifies embedded chips at up to 240 bottles/min.
As product manufacturers work toward meeting serialization and electronic pedigree rules, their success will depend heavily on what their packaging lines can do. Applying unique identifiers will undoubtedly be a packager’s role, even if all they do is apply a pre-encoded label.
Inspection systems will play key roles. “The first step toward electronic pedigrees is to read serialized codes on labels and interface with a database to log serial numbers,” says Brian Mack, sales engineer for CIVision (Aurora, IL). “This step can happen as you are inspecting for label quality. Such inspections give you traceability of every serial number.”
CIVision has worked with healthcare products makers as they add and inspect unique bar codes, including manufacturers of biological cultures for diagnostics. Generating electronic pedigrees, however, is requiring firms to do more than just inspect. “Data are being asked for to support electronic pedigrees,” says Mack. “You have to be able to extract data from inspection system monitoring and stream it so it can be accumulated and reprocessed for other systems to handle.”
Mack explains CIVision’s two-part E-Pedigree solution: “The first part includes extracting the serialized [codes] from the products or components and outputting that data into a data-management system. The second part is the data-management system that will store, organize, validate, and generate reports using the data sent from the previous station.”
For an inspection system to support an electronic pedigree program, Mack says it must be “serialization ready,” meaning that it has the ability to extract the serialized data through scanning 2-D bar codes or even human-readable codes using optical character verification (OCV) or optical character recognition (OCR). The data can then be used to create serialized reporting for the manufacturing and distribution of products, he says.
Companies could even employ human-readable codes for developing electronic pedigrees, says Mack. He explains the algorithms that support OCV and OCR for exporting serialized data from a vision system:
- OCV is used to extract printed human-readable characters from the product by referencing the similarity of the inspected characters to the matching validated character in a library.
- OCR is used to extract printed human-readable characters from the product by referencing the similarity of the inspected characters to an entire validated library, returning the best match.
CIVision has partnered with Acumence to offer a complete turnkey electronic pedigree solution. CIVision’s systems can be used for extracting serialized information, and Acumence’s software can be used to create the required reporting for electronic pedigree compliance.
CIVision’s LOMAX RFID has been installed for a pharmaceutical application. Mack reports that the system’s rate is typically determined by the RFID read/write time. Given current RFID technology, speeds of up to 600 bottles per minute are possible. If the application employs only bar codes, inspections can run as fast as 1500 parts per minute, he reports.
At Pack Expo Las Vegas last October, CIVision introduced additional technologies for inline inspection. The CIVision RFID inspection system verifies RFID chips embedded in plastic bottles. In addition, the new CIVision 360° Full View bottle inspection system employs the company’s proprietary CIVCore software to integrate images captured by four Gig-E cameras to produce a seamless bottle image. Because of the view, label position doesn’t matter, eliminating the need for square bottles that have heretofore been easier to orient.