Vision systems at heart of new inspection processes

Paul Boughton

In an effort to keep pace with increasing throughput and stringent quality requirements, process companies are demanding automated inspection processes. As a result, there is renewed interest in industrial vision systems.

With users now insisting on zero-defect products, manufacturers of automated vision systems have started focusing on quality and quality control. The automation of inspection processes to keep pace with increasing throughput of production and assembly lines, plus stringent quality requirements are together boosting demand for industrial vision systems.

However, according to a new report from analysts Frost and Sullivan (F&S), a key issue for suppliers of this technology is the current incompatibility between proprietary hardware and software. The proprietary systems pose difficulties for end users trying to migrate to new systems for better scalability. Solutions must aim to eliminate the incompatibility between vision system elements of different manufacturers by adopting common hardware interface and networking standards.

“Standardisation will improve the scalability and functionality of the systems and sustain growth. Already, companies are adopting hardware interface standards such as Universal Serial Bus, FireWire and CameraLink to aid the interaction between the system elements, underlining the importance of common standards in widening the end user base,” notes the report.

Further, the growing requirement for novel models and better flexibility in terms of reducing product changeover times, multiple part inspection and producing compact systems also presents opportunities for industrial vision systems. These compact vision systems must facilitate multiple parts inspection and tackle product changeovers seamlessly without major reprogramming.

Developments in digital camera technology enable industrial vision systems to detect a wider range of defects and find new applications. Vendors can thus offer customised solutions in the form of cameras and the associated hardware and software. The latest systems provide real-time feedback, improved processing speed and effective control over the production process. The latest compact vision systems facilitate system installation within the production line, enabling online inspection without hindering throughput, notes the report.

Customers in this growing market are insisting on smarter and faster processors with emphasis on real-time data that match the production line throughput and offer better process and machine control. Sophisticated artificial intelligence, PC-based systems and graphical user interface are some of the advanced end user requirements that the vision systems companies are able to meet.

In addition, manufacturers are focusing increasingly on machine vision systems that offer better performance and value to the end users. Due to the continuous flow of these new and powerful systems into the market, the product life cycles have reduced.

Multiple asset tracking

One of the latest developments in vision system technology is Visidot Automatic Identification and Data Capture (AIDC). The new Version1.5 provides an accurate and cost-effective solution for rapid multiple-asset AIDC and asset tracking.

In the Visidot system, assets are uniquely labelled with standard 2D data matrix barcodes or with Visidot colourcodes.

As assets pass in front of the Visidot reader, it captures hundreds of labels simultaneously and transmits the information to an image processing system, which decodes the data from each label. This asset data is exported to a data management system in XML or other standard format. Images can be stored in a separate image bank. An easy-to-use site management system controls the entire process (Fig.1).

The new Visidot release introduces the ability to detect and decode all variations of the Standard (ISO/IEC16022) data matrix 2D barcode quickly and accurately. 

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