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Custom Engineered Solutions for Lot Coding

February 20, 2017

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Human error is all around us.  Mistakes happen every day in every office, warehouse, manufacturing plant, hospital, etc.  Most of the time, these "operator errors" are completely unintentional.  Nonetheless, they happen, and they can have significant consequences.  For those of us in the manufacturing sector, mistakes lead to product recalls that cost us a lot of money and time.  At RMH Systems, we look to integrate systems that help mitigate errors in the production process.  The following is an example of a customer decreasing errors in their product coding procedures. 

 

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A Midwest-based agricultural chemical company utilizes both Leibinger and Evolution inkjet printers for lot coding both the primary chemical bottle as well as the case that the bottle resides in during shipping.  These printers were chosen for their proven reliability and ease of upkeep.

Although both units are easily programmed via their onboard interfaces, mistakes can still happen due to operator errors. Operators have the ability to change inputs, sometimes unknowingly.  RMH Systems was asked to simplify the process and remove the chance of operator error. 

There are a variety of solutions to this problem, but the chosen solution was tailor-fit to this particular chemical company.  The chosen solution was to provide bar code scanners to load the job information into the individual printers.  The Cognex Dataman 8050 was chosen for this purpose, because they can be programmed with javascript to take in data from any bar code, and parse it into something that can be read by another device.  This application was chosen because it's modular, and it can be transported with the machine anywhere the employees went.  A hard-networked solution wouldn't habe been as flexible for the customer.  

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A slight modification to the production process saved multiple steps down the road.  A QR code was added to the production sheet containing the print format, line speed, print delay, and content.  The QR code would then be scanned by the operator for each “job” and the data would then be loaded into the individual printer, removing the chance for operator error.  

The Leibinger and Evolution printers have extremely different data formatting for job loading.  Luckily, the flexibility of the Cognex Dataman scanner allowed for some clever programming to make it fit for both applications.  All of the bar code scanner program is stored on a “scanner backup sheet” which involves scanning a sequence of bar codes to configure the scanner for the particular printer.

Although this system is implemented for a majority of the plant, there are still a few parts that haven’t upgraded the equipment or added the bar code scanners.  One of these parts experienced an operator error that changed the printed code without their knowledge.  6 pallets of miscoded product needed to be run through the operation a second time, costing hours of rework, and confirming the decision to take this step forward. Though there hasn't been an official "study" yet, they were able to eliminate a bulk of time spent on the input time for the lot code.  The process that once took several minutes is now a couple-seconds process.  

 

If you are interested in learning more about this application or equipment, please clikc below to discuss with a solutions expert at RMH.  

 

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