Ensure the Piece That Holds It All Together Is Present

A variety of components go into product packaging and shipping materials — whether it’s a corrugated carton, a thin-wall box, a bubble-wrap-style mailer, or any other type of container for products themselves or shipping needs. There’s the container or mailer itself; the various branding elements applied to it such as inks, finishes, die-cuts, and stampings; and various identifying marks and symbols. But one of the key elements in every container or package meant to move from one place to another is the tape that holds flaps in position and seals them for security, privacy, and preservation.

In today’s high-speed production environments, each of these elements must be checked and verified. Colors and finishes must be measured to ensure they meet stringent brand guidelines. Registration marks and other symbols must be detected to verify that they’re present on packaging as required. The same goes for tape as well — its presence must be verified to ensure products, their packaging, and any shipping containers are properly sealed. For brands that use opaque or colored tapes as part of the design of the packaging, verifying that the tape color or finish is accurate and contains an adhesive is also essential.

Using a tape sensor integrated into the production line is key to success here, as it allows for rapid detection for verification and — depending on the tape sensor needed — the quality of the tape itself. Your product and sensing needs will be the decision-maker here, and a couple of options are available to support this part of your production chain.

Contrast Sensors

A contrast sensor is the ideal solution for production lines in which only the presence of the tape needs to be detected. Speed is essential here since the tape sensor will only be verifying presence and not assessing any other qualities of the tape. For example, a distribution center for a major online retailer will have thousands (if not tens of thousands) of standard shipping containers being moved toward loading bays or warehousing racks. It’s important to ensure the products are properly secured, and a contrast-based tape sensor will do exactly that.

The sensor should be positioned directly over or perpendicularly to the side of the conveyor (based on the position of the tape) to allow for maximum reflection of the light from the sensor. The tape itself is significantly more reflective than the box and allows the most light to be detected. As containers move along the line at high speed, the sensor will have no problem keeping up — as long as the tape is present and reflects directly back into the contrast sensor. 

The EMX Solution: Our CNTX contrast sensor was designed with packaging in mind. With a lightning-fast 40 kHz switching speed, a broad spectrum white LED, and up to four models with the ideal 3mm spot size based on your integration needs, the CNTX is the affordable, speedy solution for verifying the presence of tape on your products or packaging.

Ultraviolet Sensors

In some applications, an additional concern — beyond just verifying the presence of tape on packaging or containers — might include analyzing the appearance or other properties of the tape being used. For example, you might be using tape where the non-adhesive side is printed on or otherwise branded. Color correctness is important because the tape is now part of the packaging and overall brand in addition to serving a functional purpose. In another example, you might want to verify that the tape has the proper adhesive to secure the container or package. This would require a luminescent tracer for the tape sensor to identify. In both of these cases, an ultraviolet (UV) light sensor would be the way to go.

Whereas a contrast sensor would be positioned directly over a line to allow for maximum light reflection, a UV sensor would be integrated at an angle. This is to prevent light from reflecting back into the sensor and skewing the readings. Reflection is not needed here because UV sensors emit a beam that causes certain materials — like adhesives and inks with UV additives — to fluoresce (glow) which the sensor will detect. 

The EMX difference: EMX offers a full line of UV luminescence sensors in our UVX line. Designed to automate many of these verification and detection tasks, our UVX series provides extremely fast 10 kHz switching speeds, a small size for easy integration into your line, and 3–6 times the operating range of competing sensors on the market. An optional 50mm focal point lens is available for applications where additional focus for light is needed. 

Seal Your Success with a Tape Sensor from EMX Industries

The EMX team has been engineering, manufacturing, and supporting a variety of best-in-class yet highly affordable sensors for years. Used in multiple industries, our tape sensor solutions have become the automation tool of choice for reducing manual efforts, increasing production efficiency and output, reducing waste, and more. 

To help you understand if our tape sensors are right for your application, simply fill out a quick form and send your material into our facility. Our engineering team will test the material using the CNTX or UVX sensors and will provide a detailed summary showing performance details, any integration recommendations, and test results.

Get started with our tape sensor offerings here.