By KG Ganapathi and Craig Dowley
Commercial barcode scanning has been around since the 1970s and is a highly effective means for identifying products in both retail and warehousing. Over the past two decades the market has proliferated with scores of handheld and fixed-mount barcode scanner options. Barcode scanner manufacturers come out with new models every year that all basically do the same thing…they scan and capture codes. After decades of next generation scanners, shouldn’t they do more than just scan barcodes?
Since the logistics market has become so accustomed to these scanners, we are often asked:
“What does Vimaan do that my barcode scanners can’t do?”
Vimaan handles the barcode reading needs of our customers, and a whole lot more. 3PLs, Distribution Centers, Retailers, and Warehouses are at an automation inflection point where they are being asked to reduce headcount requirements, process inventory faster and increase their overall inventory accuracy. Unfortunately, today’s barcode scanning solutions do not help warehouses reach these goals, but Vimaan does.
Barcode Capture Technology Choices
When it comes to barcode capture, there have been several technologies for warehouses to choose from; and it can be confusing to determine which platforms best meet their needs.
Laser Barcode Scanners & Machine Vision Cameras
Vimaan Computer Vision Solutions
Still in use in many warehouses, legacy barcode scanners use lasers to reflect off barcodes to successfully decode. Lasers have excellent read rates when barcodes are presented in ideal environments. Additionally, these scanners can capture low contrast codes and even those with quiet zone violations. But lasers are notoriously unreliable working in non-ideal scenarios including codes that appear in uneven illumination, steep vertical perspectives, and those that are printed with “noise”.
Consider the challenges you may experience in the self-serve checkout stations at your local supermarket. When presented at the right angles, the lasers successfully scan the codes; but if not, it takes several passes and even the help of a store clerk to complete your transaction. Meanwhile, Vimaan computer vision solutions have been developed to specifically address these deficiencies in laser barcode scanning including lighting, printing, and perspective hurdles.
Machine Vision vs. Computer Vision
Due to the challenges warehouses experience with lasers, machine vision cameras were the next step in the evolution of barcode scanners. This technology leverages “smart” cameras that are engineered to only identify and read barcodes using rules-based models. These cameras are typically fixed at specific locations and identify and read barcodes from inventory. However, these cameras still need a certain degree of “continuity” in the barcode; any occlusion, obstruction, or blockage of any part of the barcode would render it unreadable by the machine vision camera.
In contrast to machine vision, Vimaan uses computer vision solutions to read entire labels and identify inventory. Computer vision uses multiple cameras and other sensors to understand and contextualize the environment and can be trained to identify the inventory item of interest, the label on that inventory item and then read the entire label, including text and barcodes. Vimaan computer vision operates independently with no dependencies on other “systems” or technologies.
Vimaan spent years in the field working with leading 3PLs, retailers and brands to better understand their inventory tracking and management needs. More than a barcode reading solution, Vimaan empowers our customers to:
To make it easier, please see the table below to understand the differences and how Vimaan compares with leading barcode scanning solutions:
Inventory tracking and inspection automation needs more than what the leading barcode scanners offer. Vimaan customers use DockTRACK, PickTRACK, StorTRACK and PackVIEW to track inventory the moment in enters their warehouse, to the second it leaves. These leading 3PLs and Brands have recorded their highest inventory accuracy levels, identified damages before they became a problem and processed customer orders faster than before.