Intelligent scanners for the food and beverage industry
December 2017, Sensors & Transducers
SICK Automation has developed a range of barcode scanners to address the challenges of the food and beverage industry. These feature innovative technologies to provide highly accurate track and trace performance in challenging environments, such as in freezers and in wet conditions. The scanners also adhere to strict hygiene requirements and are resilient to potentially harmful cleaning chemicals.
Traceability is of paramount importance in the food and beverage industry. Companies need to be able to identify when, where and by whom products were received, processed, stored, transported, consumed and disposed of, and must provide fully documented proof thereof. SICK Automation barcode scanners are used throughout the industry for this reason, tracking and tracing all processes from delivery of the raw materials through to intralogistics.
“In this highly regulated industry, it is essential not only to have scanners that are able to track and identify every single item for safety and logistical reasons, but also that are able to withstand challenges like constantly changing temperatures and high-pressure cleaners, for example,” explains Mark Madeley, identification manager, SICK Automation Southern Africa.
SICK offers intelligent sensor solutions for every application challenge in this industry, ranging from easily integrated compact devices and standalone systems to programmable high-speed cameras. The company offers a range of technologies to detect barcodes, 2D codes and RFID tags, even when the print quality is poor, the codes are damaged or films or other reflective surfaces have been applied over the top of them.
Safe and clean scanning solutions
Undoubtedly two of the largest concerns in the food and beverage industry are safety and hygiene. This has been addressed with the scanners that feature IP69K-rated stainless steel housings, providing chemical and corrosion resistance and fully leak-proof performance, even in high-pressure cleaning applications. In order to guarantee that no broken glass contaminates the production process, the scanners’ optical interfaces are manufactured from robust polycarbonate – also making them resistant to water, chlorine-based disinfectants, solvents, oils and greases.
Other challenges affecting scanner performance in the industry are the fluctuating temperatures in manufacturing and storing processes. “When a scanner is exposed to constantly changing temperatures, from the freezer to the loading bay, for example, its screen often mists up which reduces readability,” points out Madeley. “We have addressed this with front-screen heaters that prevent mist on the reading window, allowing reliable operation at temperatures as low as -25°C.”
Easily integrated into fast-paced manufacturing applications
This range of food and beverage scanners is suitable for fast-paced operations, with frequencies of up to 1200 Hz. They also feature optimised depth of field, oscillating mirrors and real-time autofocus functionality to increase the accuracy of their read rates and ensure data is accurately captured. In addition, owing to the scanners’ wide aperture angle, one device can cover the majority of conveyor belt widths, making them well suited for long reading distances.
These food and beverage scanner solutions ensure the safety and efficiency of every process, from produce to consumer levels. They integrate with each other by utilising the company’s standardised connectivity system – 4Dpro. This allows the different scanners to be combined and exchanged with one another, owing to their common connectivity system, user interface and accessories. These benefits protect investment, reduce the amount of integration work needed during commissioning and maintenance, and keep stock levels and storage costs to a minimum.
For more information contact Mark Madeley, SICK Automation Southern Africa, +27 (0)11 472 3733, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.sickautomation.co.za