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Vision-based luggage ID system is ‘15% better than lasers’

07 June, 2016

The machine vision specialist Cognex has announced a vision-based system for identifying airport baggage which, it claims, is the first of its type and overcomes the limitations of laser-based baggage identification systems. It says that its ABH-ID (airport baggage handling identification) system achieves much higher read rates than laser-based systems, cutting the costs of delivering lost or late-checked luggage by hand.

The image-based automatic tag reader (ATR) system uses an airline industry-recognised technology to read codes that are traditionally difficult to decode. It is said to offer high read rates even at critical points such as transfer lines, where tags are often damaged by the loading and unloading processes.

“Until now, reading transfer tags has been difficult due to damage incurred during numerous handlings of each bag,” explains Jay Bouton, Cognex’s new business development manager for airport baggage-handling. “We have designed an identification and tracking system that provides the performance benefits of image-based readers that is competitively priced to laser-based systems.

“Through field demonstrations on an international transfer line, Cognex was able to boost read rates up to 15% above the existing laser readers,” he adds.

Air travel is growing by 8% annually, placing an increasing burden on current baggage-processing systems that have remained relatively unchanged for 30 years. Cognex says that the new technology is especially important because, from June 2018, a new International Air Transport Association (Iata) resolution will require all member airlines to demonstrate the acquisition and delivery of baggage at three points on its journey: loading, transfer and arrival.

Cognex claims that its new vision-based baggage-identification system achieves higher read-rates than laser-based systems

Every time a bag is handled, the quality and readability of the tag can be compromised by smearing, scratching or exposure to weather. Cognex claims that the ABH-ID system will read damaged tags quickly and accurately. A reduced number of “no reads” means that fewer bags will miss their flights, improving baggage-handling efficiency, reducing the need for manual coding, and enhancing customer satisfaction.

The baggage identification system is based on Cognex’s DataMan image-based barcode readers. Their solid-state design needs almost no maintenance, unlike laser scanners with moving parts that can wear and fail. A patent-pending technology called Xpand allows the ID readers to fit into tight spaces and offers a wide field of view, simplifying installation and cutting system costs.

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