Universe Optics, manufacturers of standard and custom lens assemblies for scanners, CCTV, CCD/CMOS, medical imaging, surveillance systems, machine vision and night vision systems, understands the importance of using barcodes to track food products.
In order to ensure both integrity and quality of food and products meant for the public, food industry packagers use bar coding and automated systems to inspect and track packaged foods prior to shipment. In the past, line operators in food packing plants would visually inspect the products to check the seals and the visual quality of the contents. Inspecting packaged food prior to final shipment is a critical step, but human inspectors are not as reliable and take longer to perform the inspections than automated robotic systems.
Cameras are placed on either side of production lines in food manufacturing plants to capture images of both ends of each package. The images are assessed through the use of specialized software and items that don’t “pass” the metrics established are removed from the conveyor. Operators monitor inspection results and investigate faulty packaging to assess quality control levels.
With machine visioning systems, products are analyzed and separated into “good” and “bad” products. The machine vision systems inspect packages at a rate of about two packages per second with a higher accuracy rate than with human visual inspectors.
Barcodes on the product packages allow for almost immediate tracking in the event of a recall of a product. The barcodes are assigned to specific shipping addresses as well as specific grocery and department stores. When a food recall, for instance, is issued the barcodes with the information necessary allows the store operator to locate and remove the items from the shelves. The bar odes of recalled items also makes it easy for the consumer to return the product to a store for reimbursement.
Today’s consumer realizes that the items they buy are barcoded as a way to add to the speed and accuracy of checking out at the grocery store but they are also used to help track various goods as a way to enhance consumer safety and ensure product quality.
The next time you make a purchase, pay attention to the barcode and understand is it much more than a series of parallel lines of varying length – the barcode houses a wealth of information.