New camera system reads barcodes for CD, DVD, BD & book labelling

Camera Barcode Reader

Advanced Labelling Systems Ltd (ALS) will be launching a new type of camera barcode reader identification system at this year’s PPMA show, aimed particularly at the multi-media industry, for scanning product codes of CD’s, DVD, Blu-Ray, games and books. The new camera-based Multi-media Omnidirectional Barcode Identification system (MOBI), offers many advantages over traditional laser-based omnidirectional barcode reading equipment, when combined with real-time 1:1 print and apply labelling machines.

In order to compete effectively with downloadable digital media, the multi-media industry has a need to label their physical products with promotional price labels and then sort them for distribution to stores or end users, more efficiently than ever. In an attempt to grab the customer’s attention on the store shelves, products are treated with special edition covers, exciting artwork and intriguing combinations of tactile materials. Barcodes are a necessary evil and tend to “get in the way” of the graphics, so quite often barcodes get printed smaller than they should or in colours that make them blend into the cover artwork, with no standard position or orientation. All this makes the logistics of automated barcode scanning that much harder. Due to the nature of the industry, new titles are released weekly with new artwork, so coming up with a reliable reading system is a bit of a moving target. Until the studios get their act together on barcode print quality, the problem is left to the distribution centres to solve or face having to identify products manually.

Designed for reading the most challenging of printed product barcodes with high accuracy, at high-speed and at any angle, MOBI utilises a single line high-resolution camera, which means that for applications where a label is applied on the opposite face of a product, such as with a book or DVD, the system can be mounted under the conveyor looking up through a small gap, over which the product passes. This in turn allows for mounting of the label applicator above the conveyor, so that a fast blow-on application method can be used, with the added benefits of easier access for loading of labels, plus general visibility of the applied label afterwards.

A major benefit of using the line camera system is that due to the reduced reading pitch required, the overall product throughput can be increased. This is because traditional omnidirectional laser barcode readers use an “X”-pattern that requires additional conveyor length and also therefore cannot be mounted under the conveyor. In the case of books, which are often much larger than say a DVD case, a single MOBI reading head can scan across 300mm without needing to worry about the pitch between products.

Another limitation of existing omnidirectional barcode systems is the height of barcodes they are capable of reading. Due to MOBI’s single-line operation, it is capable of reading much shorter barcodes reliably, (even those that are strictly speaking, out of spec by GS1 standards), omnidirectionally and at high speeds.

In addition, due to the fact that it utilises a black and white camera, MOBI overcomes potential problems of reading different colour combinations of barcode / background. Black on red – no problem!

ALS will be demonstrating a typical, continuous high-speed print and apply labelling application, scanning DVD’s and performing a database look-up, then printing and immediately applying the correct price label to random products, in real-time.

ALS Stand C10, PPMA Show 29 Sept – 1 Oct NEC