Machine vision uses cameras, lighting, and computer processors to automatically extract information from digital images in an industrial environment. A camera captures digital images of objects moving along a production line, and analyzes them against defined criteria. If the item is deemed a reject, then it is removed from the production line.
In modern production facilities, the focus is on either producing products at a high volume or a high accuracy, while keeping the per-unit cost low. Machine vision has the advantage over human inspectors of being faster, more consistent, and able to work for longer periods of time. In doing so, it will reduce defects, increase yield, and can provide traceability.
Bad parts getting into the world and eventually into customers hands can tarnish the reputation of a manufacturer, and lead to costly product recalls. Examples of such errors include:
• Mislabeled food items or pharmaceutical products
• Incorrect part installed on a frontal air bag inflator
• Missing monster card in a booster pack of an trading card game
By catching defects early in the production process, waste is reduced because bad parts can be identified and eliminated before they are built into larger assemblies. This will avoid wasting valuable material or the need to rework parts.
Machine vision can also be used to identify and reject misaligned parts before they can be fed into a machine, causing a jam and production stoppage. Systems can be designed to inspect diﬀerent parts or conﬁgurations with the same setup. By using an HMI display, an operator can select a part from a parts list, causing its inspection parameters to automatically be loaded, thus greatly reducing process setup time. This also allows the operator to verify the results of a new setup with the very ﬁrst part produced.
Traceability can be implemented in a machine vision system by adding data collection capabilities. Parts can be tracked by reading 1D and 2D barcodes, or performing OCR to read the text on a label during a process. This can help a manufacturer reduce expensive inventory storage, yet still avoid component shortages during manufacture. The data collection can also be used to store test data, such as the results from a leak tester, thermal tester, or electrical tester. By storing this information in a relational database, it is then possible to associate it with a unique part ID. In the event of a failure — either during ﬁnal testing or out in the ﬁeld — the test results can easily be recalled for root cause analysis.
With the competitive drive towards improved product quality and better quantity management, machine vision inspection technology plays an important role in the product manufacturing process. >Read More
As machine vision integrators, we provide a wide range of inspection solutions for applications including “presence or absence” verification. This inspection process is often used to capture product features and position details at critical points during the manufacturing and assembly process.
For product measurement and gauging applications, we provide vision solutions that capture critical product and part dimensions within micron-level tolerances, and at high speeds. Our measurement and gauging solutions incorporate the latest in real-time calibration, along with precision edge, and contour detection for exact part dimension analysis and matching.
Machine vision plays an important role in product and part identification by reading data codes, barcodes, and locating unique patterns on items based on color, shape, or size. >Read More
Optical Character Recognition (OCR)
OCR is a vision-based identification process that converts text images into encoded text that is read by computers. OCR also converts text into strings of characters that are analyzed by computer algorithms to identify text characters that most closely match a target image or text code.
Optical Character Verification (OCV)
OCV determines the text quality and identifies potential text errors by comparing it against a target image. It measures the degree of similarity between an image and defined reference text characters.
Pattern matching extracts visual information from an image or a video stream in order to detect errors, count and measure objects, provide motion analysis, and compare an image’s unique pattern, color, shape, and size with target images.
Bar Code Reading
A barcode is a machine-readable image that is printed on a label and applied to a part or product (print-and-apply), or directly marked on a part, product or package (DPM). Barcodes contains encoded data about an item (unique identification or serialization), or encoded data about a batch or lot of items. Barcode scanners are typically used to capture and read bar code data in order to identify and track parts throughout manufacturing and assembly.
Machine vision offers many benefits, but robotics is one of the biggest winners for many reasons. When combined with machine vision guidance systems, robots can perform repetitive tasks, and accommodate changing parameters and part positions better than more traditional guidance methods. >Read More
Pick & Place
Vision guided robots play an important role in today’s manufacturing and assembly processes. They locate parts to be picked up during production, and determine specific locations to place them. Without robots, product and part production requires precisely “fixtured” line set-ups to ensure items maintain correct position and orientation. Relying on ﬁxtures can be expensive and time consuming to reconﬁgure when product, part types, and conﬁgurations are changed.
Poka Yoke Inspection
Poka Yoke is a mistake-proof inspection guidance process developed by Toyota that utilizes machine vision to improve production quality and efficiency while isolating product defects before they are passed along to the next step in a production operation.
Due to the increase in processor speeds, complex calculations for 3D algorithms are now practical at production speeds. This opens new possibilities for solving problems not easily done with tradition 2D solutions for a wide variety of identification, inspection, and guidance applications. >Read More
Laser proﬁling captures the 3D surface of a part through triangulation. A laser beam is projected onto the part and is deformed by the height variance of the part. Through calibration, the relative position of the laser beam within the camera's image will correspond to a Z-height. By stitching together multiple images, a depth map of the whole part can be generated.
Multi-camera stereo vision is used to capture 3-D image information based on multiple 2-D views of a part or product. Stereo vision is often used in robot navigation to estimate the distance (range) of a particular object from a camera. Image information is presented in a stereo disparity map created by matching corresponding image coordinates gathered from multiple cameras.
Photometric stereo uses a number of images to reconstruct the object surface. The camera and the object are ﬁxed, while the object is illuminated by turning on multiple light sources, one light at a time for each image. By knowing the orientations and positions of the various light sources, as well as the reﬂectance properties of the object, the surface can be reconstructed from the multiple images.
Depth From Focus
A three-dimensional object within the same scene has multiple points that are diﬀerent distances to the camera. Configuring the optics of a camera to have a limited depth of ﬁeld, such that at any given focal distance some object points will be in focus and others will not be. Acquiring multiple images at various focal distances, each object point can be displayed sharply in at least one image. Algrothims then determine which image has an object point that is projected sharply, and from there the distance to that point can be determined.
Time of Flight
The time-of-ﬂight method is a hardware-based technology that uses a camera with an integrated light source. A sensor in the camera measures the time between when light is emitted by the camera, and the time when light reﬂected at the object’s surface returns to the camera. Diﬀerent distances correspond to diﬀerent time gaps as measured by the camera.
A Machine Vision System Integrator invests time to understand a customer's unique requirements and will design and build a vision solution that meets the customer's specific manufacturing needs in terms of performance, reliability and adaptability. Often this means Vision System Integrators are undertaking one of a kind projects; specifying and configuring systems to a customer's requirements.
We can provide stand-alone turn-key machine vision systems with Cognex Dataman, Cognex In-Sight, Cognex VisionPro or MvTec Halcon for a wide range of manufacturing, assembly and packaging applications. Our documentation package includes mechanical, electrical, technical users guide and unlocked source code.
Have an existing production line with Cognex or MvTec Halcon or just purchased a machine that needs machine vision added to detect defects? As Machine Vision Specialists we can surgically add machine vision into existing equipment and communicate with the controls system to contain detects.
Have an existing machine vision system or in the processes of commissioning a system on your own and it’s not meeting expectations? Running out of time to make it right? Our trained, and experienced Cognex and MvTec Halcon field service experts can determine the root cause and modify lighting, optics or vision algorithms to improve accuracy and reliability.
Interface systems and devices can be one of the more challenging parts of setting up a machine vision system. We have experience sending, receiving and storing data for Ethernet, serial, DH+, EthernetIP, OPC, SQL databases and many more.
We meet unique machine vision system requirements by cross training our engineers and having expertise in both controls and software development. Each engineering discipline brings unique perspectives and allows us to be able to program any device whether it’s a robot, plc, RFID reader or IOT. Then provide a custom HMI that can manipulate, collect or show runtime data from them all.
We offer a two-day hands-on training course that is geared towards plant support personnel. Students will be introduced on how to connect to, focus and align a Cognex In-Sight camera, as well as, how to apply the most commonly used machine vision tools. Emphasis is placed on spreadsheet Boolean logic and how to tracethrough a program.
We invest heavily in our vision lab. Not having to borrow every single piece of equipment, means a quicker turnaround time on evals.
We follow a formalized project management process on our turnkey projects and provide project updates every two weeks.
Documentation is part of our final billable milestone and it's target audience is your maintenance staff. Which means, no documentation, we don't get paid.
Many machine builders add Vision to their line-card and may only do a couple of machine vision projects a year. Machine Vision is all that we do.
With a solid background in both Controls and Software development, we can figure out how to communicate with any piece of equipment.
Whether it is a plc program, a robot program or a .Net program we design our systems with Fault Tolerance in mind. If an error or fault occurs a program or robot needs to exit its routine cleanly and safely.
We specialize in designing vision solutions based on your specific inspection, identification and guidance needs using the latest vision devices, lighting, hardware and software technology.
We are a trusted system integration partners for today’s top machine vision technology companies.
4th Vector Technologies has provided integrated machine vision systems for top industrial companies for more than 18 years.
Are you seeking a solution for your current project? Let us help you determine if machine vision technology can meet your objectives. We offer a free 5 hour evaluation; simply send us your parts and description of your requirements and constraints. Upon receiving your samples at 4th Vector Technologies, we will schedule testing and provide feedback via a simple report, photos or video depending on the application.