ImageID, a technology allowing to capture 100s of barcodes in mere seconds, opens up new possibilities in the supply chain

In certain environments, such as the fresh food sector, ensuring 100% accurate shipment is crucial. RFID can solve certain business issues, but is not always the best solution. ImageID (image-based) technology, allowing the instant capture of an unlimited number of barcodes , turns out to be an interesting alternative. Zetes Globe asked Rafi Pilosoph, head of the ImageID Innovation Centre at Zetes, how this technology can bring benefits to the customer.

In which market can ImageID technology bring the most benefits?

Rafi Pilosoph : The most popular implementations are currently seen in shipping verification in the food industry. This industry is characterised by a large number of pallets, usually with assorted items, that are being shipped every day to retailers. Food producers are faced with challenges as human errors can be very costly to them. Some retailers fine them for every shipping mistake, but even if they don’t, a fresh product with a limited shelf life that goes to the wrong destination, will in most cases not be usable by the time it has been returned – if it returns at all. So the food suppliers require a 100% match between the order and the shipped pallets. They also require a proof in case they are being challenged, to show the content and condition of the pallets shipped.  ImageID technology can assure this level of accuracy . There are many other applications of this technology as well.

What is so unique about it?

Rafi Pilosoph : No other existing Auto-ID technology can identify so many barcodes at once , with a 100% detection rate. Also, because it is based on images, it provides the assets’ location within a pallet and visual proof of its presence and condition. This allows even an unskilled floor operator to easily locate and correct the errors before shrink-wrapping the pallet for shipping.

How would one know whether to use RFID, hand held scanning or imageID?

Rafi Pilosoph : As in every technology, there is no one solution that fits all. The challenge is to find the right match between customer requirements and the technology, and provide a cost effective solution. ImageID, like RFID, would be more suitable for high volume highly automated applications. RFID is more suitable where there is no line-of-sight with the tags. However, if the location of a specific asset in a pallet is important, i.e. correction of shipping errors is needed, locating the problematic asset would be a very time consuming effort with an RFID system, while with ImageID it would be a trivial task. The production environment is also a consideration. For example, the presence of metals or liquids negatively affect RFID detection rate. Also, where tag cost is an issue, ImageID has the advantage. It does not require additional investments in costly tags, as it uses existing barcodes .

You are head of the ImageID Innovation Centre at Zetes. How does Zetes work with this technology?

Rafi Pilosoph : At Zetes, we offer our customers the benefits of ImageID (image-based) technology via the  Visidot solution . Visidot is based on a patent protected image processing technology that enables decoding multiple barcodes in an image. It is a complete solution; image-based reader/gate with the ImageID technology is the front-end. Visidot offers a range of supply chain traceability applications to execute business rules. The solution is modula r and includes a user interface, interfaces to ERP/WMS and automation devices, a database of the captured images and a real-time management and statistics reporting system – all can very quickly adapted to the customers’ requirements.

What about the future? Can Visidot be used to address other applications?

Rafi Pilosoph : Yes, it can be used practically for all Distribution Centre (DC) applications including receiving verification (scan-to-stock), production, shipping/picking verification and dispatch/dock-door control. The goal is to minimise manual and human dependent operations as much as possible, in order to minimise costly errors. Visidot is also used in production, process control and sequencing applications for non food industries.

At Campofrío (Burgos, Spain), the use of ImageID has brought faster shipping verification and accurate traceability.