Thanks to advances in microprocessors, imaging sensors and decoding algorithms, image-based ID readers have become not only more affordable, but also more powerful. In use, the latest generation of image-based ID readers has proven to actually outperform lasers in key areas including read rate performance, 2D code reading, barcode quality feedback and long-term reliability. They are also future proofed against upgrades from 1D to 2D codes.
The most important way to rank barcode reader performance is by its read rate. It is also the best measure of how reliable and robust the reader is to the barcodes seen on the factory floor. Image-based readers view the entire barcode, not just a single line, so they can use advanced algorithms to overcome code damage issues that cause laser scanners the most trouble on the production line.
Image-based readers are able to read barcodes in any orientation within a single view. In contrast, it often requires multiple laser scanners configured together to read barcodes in applications where orientation is not repeatable. Image-based readers not only handle the typical ladder or picket fence orientation of barcodes, but also are able to locate and read barcodes in any orientation.
Within warehousing and logistics, many are making the transition to 2D codes, such as Data Matrix Codes. More information can be encoded in 2D codes to help with product traceability throughout the manufacturing process and the supply chain. Often, 2D codes are used in conjunction with 1D barcodes in the production process however, laser scanners can’t read Data Matrix codes. In contrast, image-based readers with advanced reading algorithms can robustly and reliably read 2D codes, including the most difficult codes, for example due to poor marking or marking on a curved surface.
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In many production lines, it is important to maintain the barcode print quality at a high level to ensure that the code can be read by other readers in the product distribution chain. Image-based readers can provide feedback on the quality of the print so the manufacturer can make adjustments before they ship badly printed codes to their customers.
Image-based readers have no moving parts, which means they are less likely to have mechanical failures. Typically packaged in industrial enclosures, they are designed for long term reliability and low maintenance.
The idea of future proofing the line allows the user to start transitioning from laser scanners to image-based readers at a lower cost, and allows the flexibility to upgrade in the future without having to replace the readers again and again.
Today’s most advanced image-based ID readers have overcome the technical and economic hurdles and now offer a more attractive alternative to industrial laser scanners on the factory floor.
Cognex UK Ltd
Tel: 01908 206000