Blue LED Sensor Detects Amber Bottles [Success Story]

Blue LED Sensor Detects Amber Bottles Image

The QS18 Retroreflective sensor uses a blue LED to accurately detect amber PETE bottles in a mail-order prescription fulfillment facility.

Customer Requirements: Detect semi-transparent amber prescription vials for labeling, bottle count and filling

Solution: Custom QS18 retroreflective sensors with blue LED light source

Why Banner? Quick, easy and affordable—by modifying the standard QS18, Banner created an effective solution at a competitive price point, allowing the facility to replace existing sensors while keeping costs to a minimum

Customer Benefits

Increased accuracy—the blue LED can reliably detect amber PETE bottles, which are becoming an industry standard

Adjustability—the QS18 is adjustable for short and long range applications


Pharmacies often use mail-order fulfillment facilities to fill, package and ship prescriptions directly to customers. Photoelectric sensors are widely used in these facilities to accurately detect prescription bottles on high-speed conveyors, filling stations, labeling equipment and capping machines.


A recent industry switch from polypropene (PP) to polyethylene terephthalate (PETE) bottles prompted a leading US mail-order facility to re-evaluate their fulfillment process. PETE bottles are cost effective and easy to recycle, however the plastic’s clear (almost semi-transparent) appearance poses a challenge to standard red LED sensors—the sensors used in the facility’s equipment essentially saw through the PETE bottles, causing problems such as missed detection, double counting and mislabeling. With over 2,000 red LED sensors to be replaced, the facility turned to Banner for a solution.


By replacing the red LED with a blue LED light source, Banner modified the retroreflective version of the standard QS18 sensor to reliably detect the amber PETE bottles with better contrast. The custom QS18’s blue LED is effective up to 12 inches away while the potentiometer is convenient for sensitivity adjustments, making the sensor a good solution for both long and short range applications. And because the QS18 is a common form factor, the facility was able replace their existing sensors while keeping costs and wiring down to a minimum. With a simple modification of the LED wavelength, Banner tailor-made a solution that not only solved the application, but provided cost benefits and improved the facility’s quality control. 

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