Consumer Product bottles on conveyor belt

Consumer Products

OCR Code Reading on Squeeze Tube Seals and Aerosol Cans

Read embossed and ink jet OCR codes on challenging textured backgrounds

Vision system inspecting the seals on the ends of squeeze tubes for defects as they pass by on a high-speed carrier system.

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Retailers sell semiliquid personal care products to consumers in plastic squeeze tubes for easy use. The ends of these squeeze tubes are heat sealed, and a text code containing information such as date and lot information is embossed, or inkjet printed onto the plastic. Similar codes are also inkjet printed on the curved bottoms of aerosol cans. These codes enable tracking through the supply chain, inventory management, and product recalls.

These challenging backgrounds and locations make it difficult to perform optical character recognition (OCR) with traditional machine vision. The embossed printing on the squeeze tube seal is tiny, often missing parts of letters or numbers, and distorted by the seal. Inkjet printing on an aerosol can bottom is distorted as it’s on a curved surface and must be read against a reflective background.

The resulting poor read rates slow down lines and create errors that can lead to shipping and inventory problems, and a loss of supply chain transparency.

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The Cognex AI-based OCR tool reads embossed, and inkjet printed codes on challenging textured and reflective backgrounds, even at high line speeds. The tool comes with a pretrained font library, making it easy to set up and deploy. It trains on a small, labeled image set of embossed or inkjet printed text on squeeze tubes, aerosol cans, or other challenging surfaces. Once the tool learns the appearance of each character, it easily identifies them against confusing or reflective backgrounds. This speeds up the packaging line and increases overall equipment effectiveness (OEE).

Whenever a new type of tube seal, aerosol can, or other product is put into production, it takes only a small set of images of the new background to train the OCR tool to accurately identify and read the text code.

Benefits

  • Accurately track plastic squeeze tubes and aerosol cans through the supply chain
  • Minimize misread tracking codes on consumer products

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