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Trends in Vision

An interesting vision trend is that the whole camera industry is undergoing a technology revival.  The last revival in the vision industry was for cheap, reliable, and bright LED lighting. While this was incredible, at the end of the day it was simply a bright light. Not much to talk about really, even though it was fun at the beginning.

The most recent technology revival is being caused by the flood of new camera imagers from the consumer cell phone camera industry. A camera imager is the device that takes the photons and turns them into digital values. An imager has millions of the digital photon receptors, and each one is called a pixel. In the past, vision engineers treasured their large imagers in the 1” or 2/3” format, selecting CCD over CMOS because of the higher dynamic capabilities of the CCD imager. 1 megapixel, 2 megapixel and 5 megapixel were the usual bus stops for machine vision engineers, and each bus stop usually cost a thousand dollars per stop or so. This was pretty much carved in the stone tablets that came down from the mountain, and us vision guys rolled with it on the various jobs we encountered. Throw in a $250, $500, or $1200 lens for each stop, and you have a camera. If your problem was particularly involved and single pixel accuracy was demanded (or you needed a lower F number), then maybe doubling the lens cost could get you where you needed to be. Continue Reading →

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Trends in System Integration

Four system integration experts offer their insights on manufacturing and what lies ahead for the industry. System integrators are vital to sustaining growth in manufacturing.

Ed Diehl, executive director, Concept Systems Inc, Albany, Oregon. (ranked #22 in the 2014 SI Giants):

“There’s been a big surge in robotics-based technology, robotic work cells. We’re finding that the price point for robots has come down and because skilled resources aren’t available, companies who were not doing it before are now looking to automate.

“Intelligent robots using 3-D scanning are a little more adaptable. That’s becoming a bigger part of what we do. We’re also seeing some middle-market companies, companies that haven’t automated in the past, looking at robotics.

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Automation’s Environmental Benefit

board-markingAutomation ultimately benefits the planet by helping to bring manufacturing back to the United States, where pollution is regulated.

When I first started in this business roughly 22 years ago, manufacturers used automation as a tool to increase production, speed up processes and improve cost effectiveness. It was not the norm to employ automation to drive sustainability. The desire to get costs down was enough to cause many manufacturers to seek better conditions overseas. The prevailing thought was to take advantage of the low cost labor force offered by Mexico, China, India and other countries. Continue Reading →

Visually Aided Robotic Pick and Place

robotic-vThis video demonstrates the integration of an ABB robot using a Robotiq 2-Finger Adaptive Robot Gripper in combination with a SICK laser. The laser identifies the orientation of the randomly placed parts and allows the robot to determine how to pick it up, move it, and put it down in an organized manner. By integrating these technologies, Concept Systems has created an organized fully robotic system for picking and placing unorganized parts, allowing for full efficiency and allowing manufacturers to make more.