Vision sensors inspect medicine in automated verification process

Counterfeit medicine products with ineffective or incorrectly-dosed active ingredients can cause considerable harm to patients. As a result, a European Union directive stipulates that all prescription medicine must have a unique identifier on its packaging by 2017.

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Counterfeit medicine products with ineffective or incorrectly-dosed active ingredients can cause considerable harm to patients. As a result, a European Union directive stipulates that all prescription medicine must have a unique identifier on its packaging by 2017. In an effort to remove these counterfeit products from the market, a vision-based identification system called “securPharm” was developed.

The system was tested in a pilot program in May of 2013 and will be formally introduced in 2017. Each medicine product is given a unique identifier during production that includes an individual product code, serial number, batch number, and expiration date. Locating this identifier throughout production is the only way to guarantee proper checks along the supply chain, which includes manufacturing, wholesaling, and the pharmacy.

To automate the verification process, a standardized, machine-readable code must be printed on the packaging. In addition to text, the identifier also includes a 2D data matrix code, which if not properly read, will result in the withdrawal of a product from the supply chain. To locate the identifier, a code reader such as a smart camera or vision sensor like the Vision code reader VISOR V20 from SensoPart, must be utilized.

VISOR V20 code readers are compact readers with integrated object detection that read 1D, 2D data matrix, and optical character recognition codes. The code readers feature a 1/1.8" monochrome 1280 x 1028 CMOS image sensor, a 12 mm integrated lens, and white, red, IR, and UV LEDs. In addition to locating the identifier, the V20 readers can detect small defects in the print image and export quality parameters. All elements are recorded and analysed in a reading process. V20 readers can read up to 50 codes per second, depending on the application.

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