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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Factory automation can be so flexible, modular and efficient
Article Type: Mini features From: Sensor Review, Volume 31, Issue 2
The VIVA GigE system combines VIVA Vision Automation Software with GigE cameras and ultra-compact embedded PC’s to a highly modular vision solution for factory automation: inexpensive, compact and flexible. The Vision Automation Suite is a ready-to-use platform for different image-processing tasks for lightning-fast production of applications for robot vision, quality control, measurement equipment and identification tasks. VIVA GigE makes it possible to use a group of products to solve different tasks: scalable, compact, connected, robust, digital with just a VIVA GigE with an embedded PC.
Industrial image processing is available now with different system designs. The VIVA GigE now presents a digital solution which combines trusted modular software in embedded PC’s and GigE cameras, and can be especially flexible and used to customize applications. Especially, when several cameras are used in one application, the VIVA GigE is far superior to other systems, such as smart cameras. With smart cameras, all system functions are integrated within one housing. When deploying several cameras, this means: several software licenses as well as a great deal of handling, interfacing and commissioning effort are required. Smart cameras are already out of date when they come to market due to rapid developments in computing power.
VIVA GigE consists of high-tech, industry-trusted standard components. GigE cameras, lighting and compact-embedded PC’s feature long life and a low probability of failure. They form the basis for the system’s stability. Several cameras can be connected to one computer. Therefore, users can always have the latest generation which is an advantage if the camera and the computer are separate components.
Factory automation is similar to office automation
The intelligence of this system resides in its software: The VIVA Vision Automation Suite is a highly flexible, user-oriented and cross-industrial platform which includes the use of 2D and 3D robots, vision, measurement equipment, quality inspection and component identification tasks.
The modularly constructed platform is composed of combinable application packages which only need to be configured and customized with any flow controls needed for their respective application. Therefore, it is not necessary to be an image-processing expert. ISRA experts have gathered their know-how of over 25 years with thousands of vision applications in the development of this software suite in order to make it easy for the user. Vision applications can be developed by the user with lightning speed. It is a “ready-to-use” solution with which the final user can deploy immediately and successfully.
The Vision Automation Suite can use standard Microsoft Office software packages. The system can be intuitively navigated by the user using data trees or with interactive graphical menus. The GUIs can be deployed as desired on one or several computers, which is an advantage for remote visualization and remote maintenance. VIVA displays relevant information clearly and generates statistics for respective applications of current production runs. Users can use the entire platform or individual application packages. These compatible modules can be used to control the entire production process, which can significantly increase productivity. VIVA displays relevant information clearly and generates statistics for respective applications of current production runs.
The Vision Automation Suite is versatile: it can provide position and orientation information for components which can be used for robot guidance. For 3D robot guidance, an innovative one-camera procedure can be used. All modules and tools in VIVA applications always work in a calibrated state. All tools can position and execute the current component position.
References demonstrate broad acceptance
This Vision Automation Suite’s high acceptance has been demonstrated in numerous applications: this Vision Automation Suite is used in very different industries, such as the ceramics and glass industries, with sanitary goods manufacturers, in machine tools as well as with all leading automobile manufacturers. The diverse applications range from cage positioning, removing plates, taking objects off pallets, the recognition of bathtubs, verification of different products, spring and bumper pre-mounting, reading matrix codes to various measurement tasks, such as examining connecting rod positions, filter inspections, position recognition of axles and type verification of wheel carriers.
For example, the system is used in BMW’s Dingolfing plant for type verification of brake shoes on wheel carriers. A total of six caliper types, each with a left and right shoe, can be distinguished by certain characteristics of their different contours. Positioning tolerances of the work piece in front of the camera can be corrected by local position compensation.
Also, using the same system, the quality control of collar nut fixation can be checked for mounting the caliper on the shaft. First the contour detector must detect the rotational position of the shaft by means of notches. Then, two different types of anchor nut with different diameters are tested. Using rapid integration, comprehensive tools and easy-to-use software suites this system has gained high acceptance with ISRA’s customers. Configurable applications, integrated process control, integrated 3D calibration, clear graphics, compatibility of the modules, open interfaces and a consistent user interface have made it possible to develop a vision of an automation suite for universal, highly flexible and user-friendly suite for factory automation using image processing (Figure 3).
Intelligent GigE hardware as a fast network accelerator
VIVA GigE offers not only the advantages of a highly flexible and simple-to-use Vision Automation Suite, but also uses especially robust hardware consisting of GigE cameras, a separate, ultra-compact embedded PC and industrial strength components, as well as energy supplies, lighting and Ethernet switches. The Gigabit Ethernet standard makes it possible to mount the digital cameras over distances of up to 100 m from the PC. Even at those distances, access to the data obtained in the network is fast and reliable.
Up to 14 GigE, cameras can be used in one system. In particular, the inspection of complex objects often requires the use of multiple cameras which can be controlled by an embedded PC. The user can select from a wide range of standard GigE cameras. If the resolution is not sufficient, a simple upgrade is possible. Thus, computer power can be brought up to date. The entire system can therefore easily benefit from further PC technology development. The systems are scalable at all times depending upon customer needs.
VIVA GigE is highly flexible and is available in several configurations. It can also be configured and operated using a touch screen. The system supports process communication over Ethernet TCP/IP, Profinet IO or preferred field bus protocols. Remote access to the VIVA GigE is possible using a laptop, LAN or WAN. Thus, several VIVA GigE systems which are responsible for very different applications can be accessed in this way.
Unlimited combination options
VIVA GigE makes it possible not only to offer very flexible solutions for the user to implement, but it is also very cost effective. In summary, due to its high degree of modularity, the user need only use standard components which are needed for the application. Future upgrades are no problem. Several cameras can be combined with one PC, several systems can be combined to form a network, and different applications can be operated with only one software. The ability to combine elements with VIVA GigE is limitless.