Top

Author Archive | Doug Taylor

Improve Efficiency with Automated Metrology Integration

What is Metrology?

Simply put, metrology is the scientific study of measurement. Metrology includes the collection, verification, and qualifying of measurements according to established standards. Within the U.S., the National Institute of Standards and Technology is the organization that works with industries to establish measurement standards and protocols. These allow companies to manufacture products with certainty and accountability.

Metrology can be found in any field of science and technology. Industrial metrology is a practical form of metrology that ensures instruments are performing properly, including appropriate maintenance and calibration, to ensure quality control within manufacturing. This type of inline metrology can be found in various activities performed along production and assembly lines including testing, sorting, and inspecting.

Automated Metrology Solutions

The objective of most companies is to manufacture quality products efficiently. The demand for higher quality continues to rise, causing manufacturers to look for better methods to measure and control quality – which is why automated metrology is becoming more and more important!

Generally speaking, automated inline measurement systems consist of three components: a measuring device, automation software, and a machine. When these components are communicating effectively, real-time quality assurance data is generated. Automated inline metrology increases production efficiency, improves quality, and lowers operating costs. For these reasons, manufacturers are evaluating their processes to identify where the automation of measurement activities could prove beneficial. Additionally, since many manufacturing facilities already have automated robotic work cells established, metrological devices and automation software are being created that can readily adapt to a myriad of existing systems.

The software for automated inline metrology allows manufacturers to identify the parameters to be monitored. The system tracks the desired data and takes the appropriate corrective action – all during continuous operation of the manufacturing line! These automated inline metrology systems are used to correct and adjust production processes or remove defective products – resulting in higher repeatability of these processes and a faster feedback loop when issues are detected.

There are many manufacturing scenarios that are good candidates for automated metrology; however, manufacturers generally target manual systems that are time consuming, present ergonomic issues, or simply cannot be performed repeatably. Below are some examples of automated inline metrology solutions that Concept Systems has integrated into manufacturing facilities for various industries.

  • Vision inspection: leading 2D and 3D imagers and FLIR thermal cameras are effective tools to drastically improve quality inspection, fault detection, and condition monitoring. We focus on addressing issues before they become problems. With vision inspection, sorting and classification can be achieved with little to no human interaction – improving overall quality assurance. Click here for a case study where we used vision inspection solutions to solve a sorting issue.
  • Machine vision: we use best in class, off the shelf, industrial rated, 2D and 3D vision products to tackle some of the toughest manufacturing problems. By combining 2D and 3D scanning technologies with a robot platform, our solutions are designed to tackle bin picking, high speed picking, food processing, and material handling. Click here for a case study about an advanced vision-guided work cell.
  • Laser Scanning: the use of 3D scanning creates flexibility in a work cell. 3D scanning allows for part location or inspection, and, if required, provision of a path offset to a robot so it can handle a part that is in a random orientation. Also, by scanning parts we can determine what it is and then execute the corresponding robot program – creating dynamic functionality that requires less input from operators. Click here for more on the benefits of 3D scanning.
  • LengthScanPro: with our expertise in laser scanning and machine vision, we offer profile measurements systems that dynamically adjust your equipment to yield maximum results. Real-time measurements of length, thickness, angles or other key dimensions will allow you to recognize improved quality and maximized profit. Click here for a case study where LengthScanPro was used to address the issue of waste at a wood mill.

The goal of automated inline metrology is repeatable, reliable, and traceable measurements, and automated inline metrology is an ideal solution for many manufacturing scenarios where production is constrained by manual, repetitive, or time-consuming measuring. However, it should be noted that not all measuring activities should be automated – the benefits of automated metrology have to outweigh the total cost of ownership!  Manufacturers should consider each application thoroughly to determine what level, if any, of metrology automation is justified. 

Automated Metrology at Concept Systems

With the technologies available today there are countless robotic and machine vision applications that can help you address your business challenges. From basic picking and sorting to enhanced vision inspection, from custom built end of arm tooling to complete work cell design and integration, our team of expert engineers design and integrate solutions that enhance the efficiency and profitability of your operations.

We’ll dive into your manufacturing process and build a smart, precisely tailored automation solution – effectively integrating metrology and automation solutions to improve throughput and elevate quality. Leverage the advances in technology to improve your manufacturing – contact us today!

Trends in Vision: New Camera Imagers

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.

vision automation pick placeIn 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 →