Material tracking is a basic requirement of production management. It enables control of material flow, detection of waste generation, production rescheduling, automatic stock inventory management and myriad of other applications.
Conveyor belts usually provide status information from which other systems can tell if a conveyor is running, or not, and what is nominal conveyor belt speed. However, the system usually doesn’t know how much material is loaded on the belt.
In such situations optical item counters can be applied to get a number of items transported (or lost) by conveyor. Generated count can usually be utilized by material track and trace applications, usually part of MES, and since MES contains information about production schedule, material allocation and disposition, by combining existing information with counts received from conveyor belts, full material tracking and flow can be managed from a single place.