Machine vision systems represent a fundamental cornerstone of industrial automation. They allow image processing by devices and are highly versatile solutions, capable of adapting to any sector and guaranteeing total return on investment.
What are they made of and what are the advantages?
The main components are 5:
– lighting system
– image scanning system
– vision processing software
– device that communicates the collected data
Lighting is the starting point for the entire image collection and processing process. The light source must be positioned in the correct position with respect to the object and the camera. There is no single rule for the correct lighting and depending on the different needs you will choose between backlighting, coaxial, circular, integrated lighting and many others.
The lenses determine the resolution of the collected image. They can be fixed or interchangeable, mechanically adjustable or with automatic focus. Again, it all depends on the specific applications of the vision system.
The image sensor is the heart of the entire system. It can be linear scan or area scan, depending on the type of images to be captured. Once the image has been acquired by the device, it passes the information to the vision processing software.
Through processing, we move from the extraction of information to the actual decision. The algorithms of the system, in fact, “guide” it from the analysis of the information received to the judgment, acceptance or rejection. The system, therefore, recognizes whether or not the qualities of the object are valid on the basis of the image received and communicates the result of its decision.
At the end of the process, the communication system based on a serial connection collects the decision and transmits it to the production line.
Concrete possibilities and opportunities
Vision systems guarantee accuracy, speed, repeatability and reliability.
The applications of vision systems are basically four:
Localization is the first stage. The system must understand exactly where the component to be analyzed is located within the image. Vision systems are designed to recognize objects on the basis of geometric models, but we still have to keep in mind a margin of variability.
The system, therefore, must be smart enough (and fast) to compare real products moving along the production line with the given geometric models. Without localization, you cannot move on to the next steps.
The identification serves to trace every single object of the production line. The vision system is able to read barcodes, data matrix codes, alphanumeric characters and character strings. In this way, errors can be checked, inventories managed and maximum traceability guaranteed.
Measurement is another of the capabilities of vision systems. Calculate the distance between two points or the geometric position of an object to determine if these measurements actually meet the required specifications. If so, it continues with its analysis, while in the negative it blocks the production line to correct the anomaly.
The inspection is even more accurate. It is used to identify defects, contaminations, irregularities and other manufacturing imperfections. It also checks the completeness of the products, the correspondence between product and packaging, the security seals. In this way, the company can be sure of marketing only perfect products.
More generally, vision systems can be used as a starting point for robotic processes applied to production lines. These are the advantages of industrial automation: if the system has identified, for example, an incorrect alignment of a component, it communicates it to the robot controller, who will arrange it in the right way.
Machine vision guided robotic processes are faster and more accurate than manual positioning and can be used for all those alignment, packing, transfer and setup operations.
The main applications of vision systems
We have seen how an artificial vision system is formed and how it works. But for which sectors is it most useful? The whole branch of electronics can acquire a priceless benefit from the use of vision systems: speed, reliability, maximum precision.
Ditto the logistics sector. Thanks to the recognition of characters and patterns and the automated reading of the delivery notes, the vision system simplifies all management.
The ability to fully package products aautomated is a turning point for any production chain. Labeling, product orientation, content verification, print control: vision systems make it possible to eliminate waste, optimize processes and increase productivity.
Separate discussion for the medical and pharmaceutical sector. Let’s stop for a moment to think about how important it is that every needle, every tablet, every contact lens, every security seal is actually perfect. And the best way to do this is to rely on robotic processes driven by artificial vision systems.
What are the benefits?
The artificial vision systems guarantee unparalleled quality standards. With respect to human work, in fact, there is no margin for error, delay or irregularity.
Accuracy and precision are absolutely guaranteed, as well as speed and repeatability of the results. Once the machine has received the requirements for the required specifications, all non-compliant products will simply be blocked.
In addition, all data is archived. We will therefore have full traceability and transparency to avoid any product recalls. This involves reducing waste, optimizing resources, implementing production and constantly growing profitability.
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