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Introduction to Machine Vision Systems

The idea of a machine being able to see, interpret, and respond to information based on visual input alone is not just science fiction – these systems are called machine vision and are prevalent within industrial automation!  Machine vision systems are technologies and methods used to provide image-based automatic inspection and analysis for such applications as automatic inspection, motion control and robot guidance. Machine vision uses a camera and a computer to perform a specific task. More specifically, these systems use a camera to obtain the necessary part images, and then use a computer to analyze the images and respond accordingly to data – often inspecting the part with a pass/fail outcome.

Vision technologies have become an integral component to manufacturing, as well as packing and shipping, and continue to grow in other industries as well. Machine vision is currently employed in many sectors including automotive, pharmaceuticals, military, food and beverage, electronics, and many others. There are numerous applications of machine vision such as flaw detection, product or packaging inspections, part identification and tracking, and gauging.

Due to its speed and repeatability, machine vision systems offer many benefits such as higher quality, increased productivity, reduced factory-floor footprint and lower production costs namely due to the reduced human labor required. For example, machine vision on a production line can process hundreds or thousands of parts each minute – far exceeding the capabilities of the human eye. Additionally, machine vision systems are often able to inspect part details that are too small for a human eye to detect.

Tips for a Successful Machine Vision System

When it comes to machine vision options, there are literally hundreds to choose from, and oftentimes, it is difficult to determine the key differentiators between the various products. This is why it is important to partner with automation experts, like Concept Systems, that will guide you through the technology selection and implementation process. Concept works with customers to clearly understand the problem they need to solve, and then recommends automation solutions, such as machine vision, that address this need. Below are a few tips to ensure a successful machine vision system.

  • Capturing a Quality Image: the machine vision system is entirely dependent on the image and only works properly if a quality image is captured! Appropriate lighting is the most significant factor in ensuring a quality image. The lighting highlights the feature of interest and ensures there is sufficient contrast between the part and the background. Machine vision applications often need dedicated lighting and LED options are often desired due to their consistency and longevity. Click here for tips to create the best lighting solutions for robotic vision systems.
  • Repeatable Part Presentation: after lighting, part presentation is often the biggest hurdle to implementing a successful machine vision system. The key is presenting the parts in a repeatable orientation with respect to the camera location. If possible, the part position should be constrained using upstream automation.
  • Capable Software: there are a myriad of machine vision software options available that have lots of bells and whistles but the key is to select software that has sufficient capability to analyze the data collected and perform the required inspection task at the necessary processing speed.  It really is that simple.
  • Ample Testing: it is crucial to test the machine vision system using all the possible part presentations and potentials for failure to ensure the image acquisition, data processing, and outcomes are as executed as desired for all scenarios.
  • Timely Vision Upgrades: for companies who already have machine vision in place, updating and modernizing machinery and robots makes sense as new technologies become available as they can lower costs, increase productivity, simplify processes and even increase machine safety. Within machine vision technology, one major upgrade has been robots that can see in three dimensions, or 3-D. Thanks to improved technology and newer cameras, robotic systems can now be upgraded to see the world the same way we see it—in 3-D. Advancements such as 3-D vision allow robotic vision to be an excellent solution for even more intricate and complex industrial tasks!

Concept Systems Machine Vision Capabilities

Concept uses 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, sorting, food processing, and material handling. Our leading 2D and 3D imagers and FLIR thermal cameras are effective tools to drastically improve quality inspection, fault detection, and condition monitoring. Our goal is to empower you with solutions that produce accurate and repeatable results, improve quality, and provide proactive warning systems to minimize expensive product loss and downtime. Click here for our case study on an advanced-vision work cell.

With the technologies available today there are countless robotic and machine vision applications that can help you address your business challenges. Our team of expert engineers design and integrate solutions that enhance the efficiency and profitability of your operations. Leverage the advances in technology to improve your manufacturing – contact us today!

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