Warehousing Sector Case Study: Hybrid Barcode Reading Solution

The Challenge

Grove was recently engaged by a client experiencing difficulties in achieving an optimal barcode read rate within their newly established distribution warehouse. The products were not being accurately sorted due to an issue that was identified during our analysis - the positioning of the label was outside the read window of the laser barcode reader.

In response to this challenge, Grove explored several potential solutions, including the possibility of upgrading the existing reader to incorporate oscillating mirror technology. However, our objective was not merely to invest more resources into the problem, but rather to devise a cost-effective system that could surpass the performance of a more expensive alternative.

Furthermore, we were mindful of the need to avoid locking the end user into a specific technology or model. As a result, we opted to develop a modular hybrid solution that could leverage the best of current technology, while also offering the flexibility to accommodate future expansion into RFID or 2D codes.

The proposed solution was designed to handle label positioning on three sides of the boxes in its current configuration, with the provision for 360-degree reading in the future. It’s worth noting that the existing system was already deployed using Profinet communication. This approach underscores our commitment to delivering innovative, scalable, and future-proof solutions for our clients.

The Solution

The pre-existing laser scanner was not only retained but also enhanced with the integration of three Keyence SR-X300W units, utilising the latest CMOS technology. The SR-X300W, a state-of-the-art product from Keyence, incorporates Profinet communication protocols and boasts a multitude of advanced features designed to ensure high read rates.

While Keyence does provide a standard solution for consolidating the results from multiple cameras into a single read, we opted for a custom approach to maintain modularity and leverage Grove Automation’s existing positional tracking system. This system utilises feedback from motor drives to accurately assign the read result to the appropriate package. Consequently, an in-house solution was developed within Siemens TIA Portal.

Grove has also developed a configurable frame design using Complete Lean Tube products. This design ensures that the downtime required for the installation of the unit, despite its elevated position, is less than an hour. This approach underscores our commitment to minimising disruption while delivering effective solutions.

The Result

We take immense pride in our solution, which exemplifies the convergence of our full spectrum of capabilities into a singular product. The flexible frame was meticulously designed using SolidWorks CAD, resulting in a versatile design that can be readily configured to suit a wide array of applications. This marks our inaugural use of Lean Tube, and we have been notably impressed with its superior rigidity when compared to other framing systems.

The electrical design in EPLAN P8, seamlessly integrates into the creation of user manuals and PLC code, thereby providing a unified, efficient engineering system. This enables us to position ourselves as the provider of choice, distinguished by our flexibility.

Our PLC software is component-based, facilitating the use of scanners from any manufacturer. The modular design of the software allows for an extended array distance, as opposed to the central cluster commonly seen in other systems. Remote access was employed over several weeks to fine-tune the system, ensuring that results could be evaluated over a substantial sample range.

The solution was delivered punctually and has been successfully implemented into production. This achievement underscores our commitment to excellence and client satisfaction.

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