Automatic print inspection system “gets the message”

Introducing the world’s first fully automated, smart vision inspection system for printed coding and marking on food, pharmaceutical and general consumer goods packaging.

The 4Sight Automatic Print Inspection System achieves significant savings in day-to-day production stoppages for producers by delivering an error-proof, high-speed inspection system for printed codes such as dates, batch and line numbers.

This breakthrough innovation, achieved with the AutoCoding 4Sight software operating a SICK InspectorP 2D vision camera, enables direct closed-loop communication of the printed message from any brand of printer using standard inkjet, laser or thermal transfer technologies.

High-speed inspection system for printed codes

The innovation of a direct communication notion removes the costly ‘nuisance stops’ and saves production time, compared to conventional vision systems. As conventional systems take time in learning thousands of images and fonts as well as the surrounding packaging design context, there is a lengthy process before production inspections can take place.

The system is one of the first to be developed using SICK’s AppSpace eco-system. “With the power of the SICK AppSpace development environment, we were able to draw on the strengths of AutoCoding to think about print inspection systems in a completely new way,” explains Mike Hughes, Managing Director of AutoCoding Systems. “The result is a directly-networked connection between the printer and the 2D vision camera, coupled with the 4Sight software’s unique ability to self-optimise the code inspection process.”

As the artificial intelligence is already pre-trained in the application, the AutoCoding system knows exactly the printed message it is looking for. This means the system adjusts automatically when the printer changes to a new job.

‘Good read, bad read or no read’, per product

The 4Sight software is able to simultaneously check whether the printed code is correct, present and legible, whilst users have the flexibility to define what is recognised as a ‘good read, bad read or no read’ on a per product basis. Driven by the SICK AppSpace, on board the high-resolution SICK InspectorP 2D vision camera, the application makes warrants no lineside PC.

The application requires zero font-teaching, alongside configuration features, regions of interest on the packaging, or even fixturing against an edge / logo. A simple, user-guided, self-set up process configures the optimal camera settings per customers’ needs.

Processing inspection images with extremely short cycle times

Enabled by the high-resolution and processing power of SICK vision technology, the solution is capable of processing inspection images with extremely short cycle times. It can operate in high line speed applications such as bottling and canning lines.

High-performance, dependable, fully automated, and easy to setup and use. This is why the 4Sight system is such an important breakthrough.


Grant Joyce
SICK Automation Southern Africa (Pty) Ltd.
Tel. +27 10 060-0558

Share this article