Machine vision is an emerging technology and an integral element of a factory automation concept embracing robotics, CAD/CAM, CIM, FMS and numerous related capabilities. Although still in its infancy - especially in the methodology of performing symbolic domain tasks, it surely plays a vital role in evolving manufacturing from today's fixed automation to flexible future automation. This paper describes the elements of productivity and speed improvement currently achieved with the aid of a machine vision system. The system is an integrated electro-optical system which automatically reads mark sense labels and forwards the encoded data to sort controllers. Also, through the description of this automatic sorting system design - in both software and hardware senses, it will be recognized that complex scene understanding can be carried out successfully under elaborate use of a priori knowledge about the scene to be recognized.