Baumer hhs has introduced the Xcheck DCM (die-cutting monitor), its latest-generation camera system for monitoring product mix-ups in sheetfed die-cutters — an innovation that the company has brought to market for folding carton manufacturers. The new quality control system can read and decode not only 1D barcodes but also 2D data matrix and QR barcodes.
“Customers in the folding carton industry have wanted the option of using 2D barcodes to monitor product mix-ups in die-cutters for a long time. But this method of quality control places very high demands on the capabilities of the camera equipment and on decoding the data it reads. We have now cleared this hurdle with our high-end SmartCam DCM camera, developed by our experts specifically for the Xcheck DCM system. The camera’s extremely high read rate is perfectly attuned to our latest-generation Xtend3 controller. With this solution, sheetfed die-cutters can now be monitored for product mix-ups using 2D barcodes at maximum production speeds,” explains Ralf Scharf, folding carton business development manager at Baumer hhs.
Two-dimensional data matrix and QR codes offer the advantage of storing a lot of data in a small area. They take up very little space, for example on the glue flaps of pharmaceutical or food packaging. Compared to conventional 1D barcodes, they can be of lower contrast and are readable even if parts of the code surface are damaged (max. 30%). They can also be read in any position. These advantages increase reliability in reading the codes, and therefore in the overall process of monitoring product mix-ups.
“Our new SmartCam DCM works with monochrome detection, which permits extremely fast decoding and analysis of 2D codes. If a wrong sheet is detected, the Xcheck DCM can stop the flatbed die-cutter before the sheet reaches the grippers of the feed unit. The machine operator can remove it from the feeder table and immediately restart the die-cutting process. In short, the Xcheck DCM rules out the risk of die-cutting the wrong sheets and of these blanks advancing to your folder gluer,” says Scharf.
Because the SmartCam DCM is a matrix camera, it can reliably read codes even if sheets are still moving slightly. This means the Xcheck DCM is also suitable for use in the newest die-cutters, which are equipped with register systems that position sheets while they are in motion.
The Xcheck DCM can monitor product mix-ups from the top or bottom. The latter configuration is required, for instance, when processing blister packs with back printing, pharmaceutical packaging with inside printing, or laminated and printed microflute. For these applications, the system can be flexibly adapted to customer needs. The same applies to sheetfed die cutters with dynamic feed systems. Finally, the new camera can easily be integrated into existing die-cutters as a standalone system to monitor product mix-ups. In this case, the SmartCam DCM can be flexibly positioned using machine-specific adjustable crosspieces.
The Xcheck DCM is operated from a 15.6-inch touch display that runs the Xtend3 operating software from Baumer hhs. Xtend3 also displays statistical information for machine operators that indicates if they need to intervene in the process.
Xcheck is the name of the product line under which Baumer hhs develops and markets sensors and camera systems for quality assurance in packaging production. “Xcheck DCM is another step on the way to zero-defect production in the folding carton segment. In fact, a lot speaks in favor of performing an initial check for product mix-ups during the die-cutting process. Filtering out mixed-up sheets at this early stage benefits the productivity of the folder gluer. In addition, folder gluers that run continuously are more reliable in achieving consistent quality. But because mix-ups can still occur after die-cutting, it’s important not to eliminate the check in the folder gluer,” Scharf points out.
In addition to 2D data matrix and QR barcodes, the SmartCam DCM also reads standard, Pharmacode and EAN/UPC barcodes.