AutoCoding Systems are delighted to announce that they have received a Certificate of Grant of Patent for their automatic print inspection solution, 4Sight.

The innovation in print inspection was invented by Technical Director, Robin Eatch, after considering alternatives to OCR (optical character recognition) technology as a method of inspecting printed codes.  Robin worked directly with SICK to develop the application which resides on the Inspector P range of SICK cameras.  With AutoCoding System’s deep-rooted knowledge of coding equipment acquired through the development of their coding management software, AutoCoding, Robin was able to build 4Sight, an application powered by SICK AppSpace, which directly connects the SICK camera to the printer.

The UK Patent Office recognised the merits of the innovation and granted the patent for Systems and Methods for Printed Code Inspection, identifying the unique aspects of the application which differentiates it from other print inspection methods.

The unique feature of 4Sight is Inspection Depth which gives users the ability to define the level of quality required for their inspection.  The objective is to determine, with a high level of confidence, that the print is of adequate quality for the specific application.  The user can decide using print quality tolerance thresholds to define what is considered a good read, bad read and poor read on a per product basis.  The deeper the inspection depth, the greater the processing time, but even at the highest inspection depth with the lowest tolerances, delivering exceptional results both in terms of quality and accuracy, the speed of inspection is faster and more reliable than conventional OCR.

I asked Robin why he felt there was a need for a different method for print inspection.

He responded, “Having spent many years seeing vision systems at trade shows demonstrating OCR on high quality, high contrast laser printed samples, I wanted to find a different way to handle printed codes that were not so easily “readable”, such as those produced by CIJ printers. After all, the majority of FMCG production lines controlled by AutoCoding Systems use inkjet printers, and these are the ones that suffer from slow degradation of print and other readability issues. I wanted to develop a system that detected printed codes that was much more than a simple presence detection and did not suffer from the usual issues associated with classical OCR.”

So why is the patent important?  Robin went on to explain, “Having developed such a system, it seemed appropriate to protect the method with a patent. The granting of the UK patent is a very important step to safeguarding the time, effort and ingenuity in the method and is a true endorsement of the originality in the process. It makes me very proud to be the named inventor of 4Sight and hope we can go on to secure worldwide patents to further protect the product.”

As well as a commemorative patent plaque in recognition of his achievement, Robin received a personal letter of thanks from Brian Deck, Chairman and CEO of JBT.