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Automatic sorting with barcode identification inside a refrigerator

  1. Jun 27, 2013 #1
    I'm endeavoring to prototype a challenging sorting mechanism inside a fridge and would appreciate any tips on how to get from the specs to a plausible design.

    #Problem

    The aim of the game is to identify and sort food items in the limited space of a fridge

    - such that a user would push their unsorted shopping into a chamber at the top of the enclosure
    - and the machine inside would then try to identify the contents with help of bar-codes (first big problem)
    - and then sort and move the items according to their identities into different chambers below (second big problem).

    #Solution?

    Are there any existing devices that already serve such functions (automatic bar-coding and sorting), the designs of which could perhaps inform the mechanics of the device I'm planning to construct?

    - I'm thinking maybe manufacturing plants
    - or packing factories with conveyor belts etc may use systems that already solve such problems?
    - Or filtering mechanisms in candy dispensers,
    - mechanized lifting forks?
    - Textbook engineering mechanisms?


    Thanks!
    k
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 27, 2013 #2
    The bar code reading system is the lessor of the problem. These are used all over the place from hand scanners, to store check out counters, to warehouse systems, mail sorting, to package sorting. Several courier companies, and it does not have to be as large as Fedex or UPS, do use automated laser scanners that scan the package for address infornation from the bar code and take weight and dimensions at the same time. You may have seen a television documentary on how Fedex or UPS are able to do overnight delivery by usage of such a system at their main distribution warehouse.

    You biggest problem would be on how such an automatic system could be scaled down to the size of a refrigerator.
     
  4. Jun 27, 2013 #3
    thanks! do you happen to know the name of the documentary?
     
  5. Jun 27, 2013 #4
    There was this one now on UTube called Package Wars, which shows a lot of conveyor belts.

    maybe not all that helpful.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  6. Jun 3, 2014 #5
    This idea is great.
     
  7. Jun 4, 2014 #6

    Mech_Engineer

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    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    It's relatively easy to identify a barcode scanning solution, there are literally hundreds of options out there from high-speed industrial (http://www.keyence.com/products/vision/barcode/index.jsp) to hacked together using a webcam or old phone and some open-source software (http://sourceforge.net/projects/zbar/).

    Your bigger problem is you're going to need to design an automated sorting system (including all of the software for it), and package it in an insulated refrigeration unit. Any idea on what you plan to use to do this? Do you have a budget? Are you planning on trying to use an existing fridge, or build something from scratch? Is this a conceptual design, or do you actually want to build something?
     
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