Rapid Advancements in Machine Vision
In just two decades we have seen a convergence in computer technologies which has made possible an incredible advancement in machine vision. Since the early 90s, we’ve leaped from external sensors to 2D machine vision to the ultimate 3D level, opening up exciting new roles for robotics in manufacturing.
Robotics Tomorrow reports that blob analysis, the method of visually detecting regions with different properties, has reached speeds that are 4,000 times faster than 20 years ago. Pattern matching is 1300 times faster over the same period.
Improvements in vision-guided robotics, (VGR) especially for factory automation applications, are the result of significant increases in computer power, less expensive computer memory, advances in high-level software, and the development of affordable precision imaging hardware.
Here are the top 3 reasons why manufacturers are setting new records in the move to vision-guided robotics to remain competitive in the expanding global economy and the super-productive but demanding manufacturing revolution known as Industrial 4.0.
1. 3D Vision Versatility
In the recent past, conventional robots relied on external sensors requiring highly controlled environments to operate. Every factory operation had to be optimized to meet the robot’s needs. Reorganizing the factory floor to accommodate the “special needs” robot isn’t practical, especially in industries where they need to work alongside the human workforce. This can be more of a disruption to production than an enhancement, especially when the robots have limited capabilities.
In the past robots were restricted to picking and placing only identical items from an exact predetermined location and a precisely fixed orientation. Size variations or position changes on the belt couldn’t be handled without human intervention, which in turn caused production delays. Vision Guided Robotics (VGR) with 3D machine vision is changing that.
New 3D machine vision systems give robots the ability to perceive depth, position, and adapt to changes in scale. Now collaborative robots are picking and placing in a wide range of industrial tasks that weren’t possible even a decade ago. Robots enhanced with 3D machine vision can detect and process changes in color, handle randomly located parts, and adapt to non-uniform lighting. You can see Integro’s 3D Pick and Place system in action on a Universal UR3 Robot below.
2. Rapid Precision
Traditionally, precision inspection for quality control was a tedious and time-consuming task. Both 2D and 3D machine vision inspection systems increase production by reducing inspection times, and they do it with reliable, incredible precision.
Machine vision inspection can reduce false rejects, detect foreign materials, and accurately sort to pass/fail bins. State-of-the-art processing speeds allow for real-time 3D vision monitoring. Integro has partnered with Yamaha Robotics and Coherix to provide a 3D bead dispensing and inspection application for 100% automated processing and inspection.
Press-fit copper fittings have grown in popularity for their reliability and ease of installation. Machine vision inspection quickly verifies proper O-ring installation as well as full part geometry. Integro partnered with Kuka Robotics to develop a customizable inspection cell with 100% part handling and high accuracy.
Our Round Disk Inspection system provides 3D measurement with an accuracy of 0.004mm and a full 360-degree inspection. This significantly reduces takt time, which is why we call our 3D vision enhanced 2-axis robot “the small machine with big results.”
3. Safety and Hazardous Tasks
Many manufacturing tasks are hazardous to human operators. Vision-guided robotics can eliminate these hazards to the human workforce. The Odyssey Machine Company of Bowling Green, OH produces 40-pound aluminum clutch housings. Before releasing the housings to customers sprues and flash had to be sawed off, requiring one human operator to feed the sprue saw manually, and another to hold the casting while flash was removed.
One of our industry-leading partners, Cognex, provided the Insight Micro 1100 vision system for a vision-guided robot which eliminates these two hazardous tasks. The system can identify which in a series of eight different parts is on the infeed, locate it precisely, and pick and place it on the sprue saw. It then moves the part around a high-speed cutter to remove flash.
President of Odyssey Machine Company, Ron Leroux, says that the Insight vision system and robot have paid for themselves in six months, and he notes that two operators were freed up to move to other productive positions in the company.
Integro Technologies and Industrial 4.0
Integro was founded in 2001 and has since established itself as a premier machine vision inspection integrator. Our highly qualified team has 550+ combined man-years of machine vision expertise, serving over 1,000 clients worldwide. Our application engineers work one-on-one with clients to specifically match a company’s vision application and integration needs, in the revolutionary manufacturing age of Industrial 4.0.