A deep dive into machine vision systems and their uses

What are machine vision systems?

Techopedia defines machine vision systems as ‘a type of technology that enables a computing device to inspect, evaluate, and identify still or moving images.’.

The technology and methods can be used for various applications from being able to identify defects, provide product sortation, barcode reading, end-of-line vehicle inspection, product checking, and robotic production, just to name a few.

Although machine vision came first, it’s important to get the technology confused with computer vision. This method is based on how computers can be made to gain a high-level understanding from digital images and/or videos and automate a human visual system. Although computer vision uses many of the same algorithms and approaches, the constraints and applications are different.

Over the last 20 years, machine vision inspection systems have grown rapidly to become an important and integral part of manufacturing and logistics operations. With machine vision systems providing greater flexibility and wider automation opportunities for manufacturers it’s no surprise that the use of the vision systems is on the rise.

Bloomberg is suggesting the global machine vision market could grow to reach over $18bn by 2025, Allied Market Research expects the global machine vision system market to grow close to $19bn by 2022, and InkWood Research forecast the market to generate a revenue of over $21bn by 2027.

The latest machine vision systems include 3D that can scan products moving at high speeds and as there is more uptake of this type of equipment they have become much more affordable and cut costs by speeding up the production line or lead times.

Machine Vision Systems

How machine vision can help

Machine vision technology is widely recognised as being used within automation and production lines.  Using machine vision systems allows a system to reduce human involvement in a variety of processes.

This may be in a process such as inspection or manufacturing. Correct use of machine vision systems in an end-of-line set-up helps not only significantly improve productivity but also delivers greater accuracy of work output by identifying defects prior to customer receipt.

Due to machine vision being implemented to work alongside other systems, such as conveyors, they can be integrated for use in a hazardous place or clean spaces that could cause a human to become contaminated or injured.

Due to the reduction in human error, the vision systems improve product quality and can ensure quality checks on all products going through the line. Due to this, it has a ripple effect where it reduces the overall cost, in time and money, of production due to less defect and faulty products appearing and ever making it through to the next stage which can cause time delays.

This helps stop faulty products ever making it to the end-user and causing negative publicity that some brands have not been so fortunate to get away with.

Vision & Checking

Applications of a machine vision system:

  • Absence/presence detection
  • Automated vision testing and measurement
  • Bar code reading
  • Colour verification
  • Defect detection
  • Optical character recognition and verification
  • Part verification
  • Pattern matching
  • Sorting
  • Traceability
  • Vision guided robots

Goals that machine vision systems can help achieve include:

Strategic Goal Machine Vision Applications
Higher quality Inspection, measurement, gauging, and assembly verification
Increased productivity Repetitive tasks formerly done manually are now done by Machine Vision System
Production flexibility Measurement and gauging/ Robot guidance / Prior operation verification
Less machine downtime and reduced setup time Change-overs programmed in advance
More complete information and tighter process control Manual tasks can now provide computer data feedback
Lower capital equipment costs Adding vision to a machine improves its performance, avoids obsolescence
Lower production costs One vision system vs. many people / Detection of flaws early in the process
Scrap rate reduction Inspection, measurement, and gauging
Inventory control Optical Character Recognition and identification
Reduced floor space Vision system vs. operator

What systems do L.A.C. Conveyors & Automation provide?

L.A.C. working in partnership with Kawasaki Robots UK who not only supply robots to L.A.C. but also provide a fully comprehensive support service and Envisage System. They are vision systems integrators that provide a bespoke service for our vision systems. They do this by putting together a mock-up of an end-of-line vehicle inspection system to show how a robotically controlled vision system could read and check cab systems to ensure that parts have been correctly installed and work properly. The system scanned selected items, recording and storing images for proof of functionality.

Below is an example of how the system is running.

 

With our own experience and valuable partnerships, it allows L.A.C. to pull together the correct system at the right price. Our large and experienced in-house team of design engineers work closely with the sales team, floor engineers, and customer to ensure that the system works without fault.

Recent installations include a vision system to read barcodes on a pallet conveyor system, a vision system on a food-grade stainless steel twin lane modular belt conveyor to ensure that butter tub lids are correctly seated and a correct barcode has been stamped on the tub, and a vision system to aid automated robot picking of grape punnets from a main-belt conveyor and placement into cases on a secondary powered roller conveyor.

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About L.A.C. Conveyors & Automation

Who we are: Founded in 1992, L.A.C. Conveyors & Automation are a leading UK supplier who’ve been successfully supplying conveyor systems, belt conveyors, roller conveyors, automation, and robotic solutions to the UK’s blue-chip industry. Located in Bulwell, Nottingham, L.A.C. are known for their outstanding customer service, continual support, flexibility, and bespoke service. With a full in-house service team, and an engineering team who’ve worked together over 20 years, L.A.C. covers all aspects of control system design, build and associated software, and ongoing support.

What we do: L.A.C. has a wealth of experience supplying conveyor systems and robotic solutions to a range of industries including automotive, aerospace, food and beverage, heavy engineering, and logistics. L.A.C. design, assemble, incorporate testing, and deliver with training and after-sales support for a smooth handover. With an in-house mechanical design team, project managers, and engineers, all the builds are undertaken on the five-unit 60,000 sq. ft premises.

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