Accu-Sort Systems, Inc. has taken a leading position in the manufacture of fixed-position laser and camera barcode scanners. Barbara Kram tells how the company delivers for its customers.
More than 80 percent of all cartons shipped in the U.S. pass under an Accu-Sort scanner at least once. Accu-Sort is a world leader in industrial fixed-position line and omni directional bar code scanning equipment as well as complete RFID solutions including readers and tags. With its AccuVision line of CCD cameras, the company offers the world’s leading technology for bar code and 2D code reading, OCR, dimensioning and image capture. Accu-Sort’s Integrated Systems Group provides a range of comprehensive solutions for warehousing, distribution, manufacturing and information management. Accu-Sort’s systems are used at shippers’ and carriers’ sortation hubs including Federal Express, United Parcel Service, DHL, Airborne Express, and RPS, Inc., along with the U.S. Postal Service, as well as overseas parcel and postal facilities.
Founded in 1971, the company has its roots as a division of Magnavox. A major milestone occurred in 1983 when Accu-Sort earned a contract with the U.S. Postal Service for laser barcode readers. The USPS subsequently looked to Accu-Sort for complete, parcel bar-coding solutions and automated tray-handling systems for postal distribution centers. Accu-Sort’s solutions for the USPS included conveyors, automatic tracking, software, controls and barcode readers. Accu-Sort’s conveyor systems also track, scan and sort small parcels such as CDs, videos, pharmaceutical products, jewelry, checkbooks, eyewear and many other products.
The company is an industry leader in automatic identification technology, helping customers manage materials, collect and analyze data, and streamline operations in any number of applications. “We’re the only company in our industry that’s had 30 years of uninterrupted growth, all of it internally sourced growth – not through acquisition or partnership,” says Don DeLash, vice president of marketing.
Accu-Sort manufactures a complete line of products including bar code scanners, CCD (charged, coupled device) vision systems and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology. Through its AccuVision® line of CCD cameras, the company offers the world’s leading technology for 2D scanning, OCR, dimensioning and image capture. Its newly branded Sentient RFID technology completes the product lineup of automation capabilities.
These innovations allow Accu-Sort to engineer value-added solutions, focusing on automatic identification and material handling applications. In addition to high volume, high-speed shipping and fulfillment for the nation’s largest retailers, Accu-Sort Systems are used in critical applications including food and pharmaceutical packaging and shipping.
“In those industries, accuracy is the name of the game,” DeLash stressed. “We do very high-speed scanning and verification to make sure that everything matches,” he said of pharmaceutical contents, instructional packaging and labeling. “A lot of shipping verification and tracking data has to be archived and reportable,” he added. “You have to be able to go back and see what all the products were in a given lot. So it’s really very data intensive.”
The company’s Baggage Scanning Array (BSA) technology is found in airport baggage routing and tracking systems, one of the toughest jobs for bar coders.
“If you fly through Chicago, out to the West Coast, your bag is meshing with bags from other cities,” he said. “It’s a very challenging scanning application because bags get all beat up.” Accu-Sort’s patented DRX data reconstruction technology meets the challenge by scanning low aspect ratio and damaged bar codes.
“DRX is like speed reading. It allows you to take many partial scans and recontruct the bar code,” DeLash explained. DRX has revolutionized barcode scanning in a multitude of applications. For example, it allows retailers to use smaller, less costly labels, resulting in significant savings for big store chains that use millions of labels a year.
Another Accu-Sort innovation is dimensioning technology, which measures the volume of packages as they travel on a conveyor. This vital information makes everything more efficient, from loading trucks to pricing shipments appropriately. A recent product introduction, the Accuvision AV3800 CCD camera is a small, lightweight, high-speed digital camera that captures and processes label images, bar codes, and package dimensions for shippers, parcel delivery services, retailers, or quality control in manufacturing line operations. The company also has introduced a new product called FAST Label, the only Windows-based, fully configurable, in-motion labeling system. This product is part of Accu-Sort’s flexible automated tools suite of software.
Accu-Sort’s systems, including scanners, CCD cameras, dimensioning systems, terminals, control modules and RFID technologies are primarily manufactured at the company’s 170,000-square-foot facility and U.S. headquarters in Telford, Pa. Accu-Sort also has sales operations in Canada, Europe, Australia, China, and Singapore, as well as distribution partners worldwide.
“What continues to fuel the need for bar-code scanners is they’ll fit in economically to more places and have better performance than ever,” DeLash said of the sustained market demand. “In the old days, it was just the big guys who could afford it, but now bar code systems go everywhere. There is so much more technology in a small box these days.”
Integrated and Automated
“One thing that makes us unique among our competitors is that we’re not only a manufacturer of equipment, we’re also an equally big integrator of equipment,” DeLash said. “We do software, project manage-ment, site management, training services and integration of third-party equipment and software.” (If you’re picturing Accu-Sort Systems in factory automation, you’re on the right track.)
“We’ve done systems in plants that produce CDs and that whole process is automated: handling the CD, tracking it into the machine that burns on the songs, silk screening the artwork, assembly and packaging,” DeLash said. “Automated material handling is applicable to any industry whether it’s toasters, CDs, or pills.”Complex, customized PC production is another example in which RFID tags and tracking are used to make sure the product is assembled and shipped correctly.
“For work in process – tracking and moving things from manufacturing to inventory, RFID and bar code scanning are essential to quality controlled automation,” he said.Labeling, sortation, manifesting, shipping, inventory – it’s all part and parcel of Accu-Sort Systems. The company’s Integrated Systems Group provides a range of comprehensive solutions for distribution, warehousing, manufacturing and data management.In fact, the company’s systems are a point of pride among customers, who can boast of the speed and accuracy that Accu-Sort brings to manufacturing and shipping.
“Part of the ROI on these systems is that our customers can now say, we automate, we verify with bar coding, we use RFID. So the result is we produce a better quality, more accurately controlled product,” said DeLash. “That’s the bottom line: If we didn’t add value to their processes we wouldn’t be in business.”