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SK Energy enhances barcode read rates with Cognex ID reader

SK Energy

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SK Energy has set up a track and trace system by adding Cognex DataMan® high-performance industrial barcode readers on their hybrid lithium-ion battery production line.

In October 2009, SK Energy was chosen as a lithium-ion battery supplier for a Mitsubishi Fuso hybrid electric vehicle. In November 2009, this Korean leading energy provider established a part history management system with the introduction of an ID reader to its production line. Previously, products had not been individually tracked, but with the growth of the secondary battery industry and an increase in production a barcode history management (traceability) system was developed for the electric vehicle battery production line.

DataMan improves read rates on parts with diffused reflection

Direct part marked (DPM) codes are inkjetted onto the aluminum pouches of lithium-ion batteries for hybrid electric vehicles. The shiny pouch surface causes a diffused reflection causing low read rates by existing barcode readers. When it came time to implement a full traceability system, SK Energy was very careful in selecting an ID reader that could read even the most challenging barcodes successfully and repeatedly. During the discovery process, SK Energy tested several different brands of marking/reading systems on their production line five times. The Cognex DataMan barcode reader was finally chosen because it offered the best read rate performance in its price range.

Mr. Kim Jae-gwang of IDINTECH, a Cognex certified ASP (Automated Solutions Provider), said, “SK Energy are using inkjet DPM codes with Data Matrix ECC200 barcodes (10 x 10mm) on the hybrid vehicle battery packs. To solve the diffused reflection issues on the aluminum pouch and read barcodes accurately, the lighting, exposure, angle, and bracket position had to be precisely considered. Rival companies have failed to solve the issue and most of them had poor read rates. Cognex image-based ID readers successfully read 2-D codes on steel and aluminum that other readers cannot.”

Compact size and easy to use

An additional requirement that SK Energy was that the ID readers must be small and compact. SK Energy chose the DataMan 100S and handheld DataMan 750S. The fixed-mount DataMan 100S offers USB and RS-232 communication functions with a very simple interface. It features a three-position adjustable lens and integrated lighting and LED aimer with IP64 level protection. The handheld DataMan 750S is durable and very easy to use in the manufacturing plant.

SK Energy has already installed 145 DataMan units on their production line for reading both 2-D DPM marks and 1-D barcodes and plan to expand their production line from 7 to 20 lines in the near future.

About SK Energy

SK Energy (www.skenergy.com) is the world’s only company to own core manufacturing technologies in a material industry, fuel cells, and battery packs. With top-notch technologies associated with lithium-ion battery materials and products such as battery packs and module manufacturing technology, Battery Management System (BMS), battery separator manufacturing technology, and manufacturing technology of N-Methyl-2-Pyrrolidone (NMP), used in the manufacture of electrodes, the company owns a batch production system.

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