The Orifarm Group handles a wide range of different pharmaceuticals in high volumes across Europe every day. DTI and Fraunhofer IPA in Germany have jointly assisted the Funen-based company to find an effective, automated solution for handling any product in their warehouse.
Through the European project ROBOTT-NET, robot and vision experts across European borders have developed a special vision technology to recognize and verify all the boxes imported by Orifarm.
And that's something that requires precise images.
- We need the vision technology to recognize the boxes all the way down to their LOT number and expiration dates, which are in very small fonts, says technical coordinator Karsten Truelsen from Orifarm, who also emphasizes why precision is paramount in this type of robot solution:
- We can all imagine what it would mean if you confuse two products. Therefore it is extremely important that the technology is completely accurate and without errors.
Visual Recognition of Arbitrary Products
Vision and robot systems today are most common in manufacturing scenarios which have a fixed and low number of known products. Orifarm has a wide range of different medicines, new products are often introduced and the boxes may change style. The technology must therefore be flexible and intelligent.
- Thanks to today's advanced camera systems and software, we have begun to develop vision and robotic solutions that can identify and quality assure even arbitrary products at high speed. It is important to have the same point of view every time, therefore the vision system moves the camera relative to the product because this is faster than trying to control the very different products underneath the camera, says vision specialist Michael Nielsen from DTI's Center for Robotic Technology and continues: