To discuss the application of direct part marking identification (DPMI) using 2D matrix codes, the use of which is increasing in industries as diverse as automotive and medical instruments.Design/methodology/approach – The benefits of 2D codes are explained, emphasising that they have sufficient storage capacity to provide data for tracking a part during its manufacture and through the supply chain and allow traceability throughout its lifetime. It describes the operation of Cognex, one of the leading manufacturers of ID products and also the world's largest supplier of machine vision systems is Cognex. It explains that initially the electronics industry exploited Cognex' code reading technology and an application at a German board manufacturer is described. Another system, at a diesel engine injector manufacturer in France, has 42 Cognex systems reading 2D codes and guiding robots in assembly. Also described is a new range of Cognex hand‐held and fixed‐mount 1D and 2D code readers “loaded” with software that allows reading in difficult conditions and with degraded or partially obscured codes.Findings – The DPMI market has expanded into industries other than automotive, which has prompted Cognex to establish a new division of ID products.Originality/value – The paper emphasises the importance of 2D codes in product traceability and indicates how vision technology is being utilised to read these codes even under difficult conditions.
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