Read Rates Closer to Perfection

The use of DataMan® solution by Cognex – capable to read virtually any barcode regardless of the damage or the surface it is marked on – allowed the Korean car manufacturer Kia Motors to increase the efficacy of the traceability program, thus achieving read rates up to 99% in its production lines of engine components.

di Cesare Pizzorno

Automobile transmissions have up to 300,000 unique parts including key components (e.g., differential gear, T/F driver gear, T/F driven gear, carrier, O/D clutch, transmission case, housing, valve body) that are traced throughout the production process. Similarly the approximately 200,000 key components of an automobile engine (e.g. piston, cylinder head, engine block, CAM shaft, and crank shaft) are also traced throughout the manufacturing and distributing processes.
In Kia Motors’ traceability program, the 2-D Data Matrix codes marked on the parts are read to determine if they are matched to the appropriate part. Production information, such as manufacturing date and model number, is then saved on the server for full traceability.

99% read rates
Kia Motors focused on enhancing 2-D Data Matrix read rates for traceability after it shifted its production system to the six-speed transmission production line. The company’s conventional transmission production line produced approximately 1,800 units daily but only delivered 96-97% read rates. Their engine line, which produced 1,300-1,400 engines daily, had read rates that were under 97%. Kia Motors knew that an increase in read rates by as little as 2-3% in this production line would deliver higher production yield and reduced manufacturing costs and improved efficiency.
The previous barcode reader was problematic because it would frequently stop manufacturing equipment due to code reading failures. Due to its manual operation, it was difficult to match the manufacturing cycle on time, resulting in decreased work and production yield. Operators risked using the wrong parts if the code was read incorrectly, which could result in product defects. This particular six-speed transmission line faced further Data Matrix code reading challenges due to small parts and declining marking quality on a 5×5 mm marking space. To address these challenges Kia Motors deployed DataMan® barcode readers from Cognex and achieved 99% read rates.
DataMan barcode readers are optimized with patented algorithms for decoding the toughest DPM and label-based barcodes in harsh environments.

Patented reading algorithm
Because Kia Motors’ auto parts are assembled with anti-rust oil spray, one of the challenges for the reader is caused by oil on the code. Additionally, the 2-D Data Matrix codes can be further damaged by dirt or scratches, even though they have been washed and kept clean. The size and varying quality of the code marking made the matrix codes difficult to read. However, these challenges are effectively handled by DataMan barcode readers.
The Cognex 2DMax+™ code reading algorithm can read virtually any barcode regardless of the damage or the surface it is marked on. In addition, Cognex barcode readers offer Ethernet connectivity so they can integrate into the factory network and directly communicate with a PLC without the need of an additional transmission device.