Machine Vision technology has dramatically improved manufacturing efficiency, speed, quality control and safety for many industries. In this post, we’ll discuss the role of machine vision systems within the manufacturing industry, including different types, applications and usages, and benefits.
These vision systems are among the most versatile and use advanced AI technology and machine learning to provide numerous benefits to manufacturers, increasing productivity and throughput while cutting operational costs.
What Are Industrial Vision Systems?
Industrial vision systems use advanced technology known as machine vision. Machinery with this technology uses cameras and sensors to collect and feed data to the main computer, allowing it to “see” the product or material in its path. Then, the computer uses advanced vision software algorithms to make rapid, real-time decisions on what it sees, such as for quality control purposes or inspection. In fact, machine vision is essentially the father of modern industrialized automation.
The primary purpose of machine vision processing is to automate manufacturing tasks that are exhausting, mundane, repetitive, and error-prone for humans. Instead of employees inspecting each item that comes off the production line for defects, the computers and vision sensors in this advanced equipment can perform these tasks much faster and with greater accuracy. As a result, manufacturing businesses can increase output volume, improve quality, and control rising operational costs. Plus, upgrading to advanced technology lowers equipment costs, which can skyrocket for companies using old or outdated systems.
Types of Machine Vision Systems
Machine vision has many applications in the industrial world, many of which require specialized systems to accomplish the task at hand. However, most vision systems fall under three different classes: PC-based, smart camera-based, and compact vision systems.
1. PC-Based Vision Systems
A PC-based vision system relies on a powerful industrial computer that operates all the other system components, such as the lights, cameras, and sensors. Once the object passes through the camera, advanced software takes photos to gather the input and analyzes it, making a decision based on the data. While the cost and size of PC-based vision systems can be prohibitive, the technology is ideal for complex applications that require powerful processing.
- Highly versatile and flexible
- Suitable for complex applications
- Powerful processing and computing capabilities
- Much larger than other types of vision systems
2. Smart Camera-Based Vision Systems
Smart camera-based technology is ideal for applications requiring a smaller or less complex system. As the name suggests, most smart camera-based systems consist of asmart camera that utilizes lighting, a fixed focal length lens, and a sensor and processor that aren’t much bigger than a normal-sized camera.
Smart camera-based systems have a relatively simple interface that is easy to program, even by non-engineers. However, a computer and network interface connection is necessary to configure this type of vision system for each application. Fortunately, that connection only needs to occur during configuration, not during regular operation.
- Cost-effective and relatively simple machinery
- Suitable for simple tasks and applications
- Easy to set up and operate
- Offers basic functionality in a small, compact size
3. Compact Vision Systems
You can think of a compact vision system as the streamlined version of a PC-based system, and they’re best suited for lighter, less demanding applications.
Compact systems contain a graphics card, which gathers data and then transports it to a separate device, such as an external monitor or tablet. Another benefit of using compact systems is their ease of use. Most contain a graphical user interface with a mouse or touchscreen monitor for fast, simple, and straightforward operation.
- Excellent performance despite its small size
- Ideal for simpler applications and tasks
- Can operate multiple cameras simultaneously
- User-friendly and intuitive interface
Common Applications for Machine Vision Systems
Machine vision and inspection automation is a highly versatile technology. Many industries, including healthcare, automotive manufacturing, food processing, computer programming, security, and finance, use vision systems in daily operations. Machine vision systems have countless applications in manufacturing, including the ones listed below:
Counting Parts and Pieces
Counting objects may not require a lot of skill, but it’s tedious, time-consuming, and can result in costly errors if the numbers are off. Machine vision solves this problem using precise algorithms to locate, identify, and count parts with speed and accuracy.
Machine vision is also critical for applications that require identifying individual objects. For example, customized software can apply specific business rules during operation, allowing the machine to identify multiple objects within a single image. Then, it uses machine learning, image processing, and data analysis to determine which objects are relevant to its primary task.
Just like your car needs regular oil changes and tune-ups, industrial equipment and machinery also require periodic maintenance and service to ensure peak performance. With machine vision and advanced learning, predictive maintenance becomes possible. For example, the technology utilizes sensors to collect data on machinery and components, identifying vulnerabilities or taking corrective action before a catastrophic breakdown occurs.
Industrial vision systems can inspect objects for defects and imperfections, including surface defects, faulty packaging, and malformed parts. Machine vision improves the accuracy and efficiency of the inspection process, and the technology frequently locates flaws that a human would otherwise miss. Furthermore, vision systems with high-resolution cameras can inspect physical details on objects too small for the naked eye to see, reducing scrap and ensuring proper quality control.
Scanning, reading, and processing barcodes is another tedious, repetitive, and error-prone task integral to modern-day manufacturing and commerce. Even with a barcode scanner, a human employee with a scanner is no match for the speed, accuracy, and scale of machinery using vision systems.
Product and Component Assembly
Many companies that assemble products and components use AI and robotic vision systems to improve speed, accuracy, and output. Some machines can use vision and image processing for 360-degree product inspections and quality control, ensuring proper packaging, correct label position, and acceptable print quality.
Benefits of Utilizing Vision System Technology
Companies in the industrial sector face the same fundamental challenges every day: how can they increase productivity while lowering operational costs? Of course, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to that question, but machine vision and AI technology can help businesses reach those goals faster.
Machine vision, deep learning, and AI provide numerous advantages for manufacturers in the world of industry and processing. This technology is invaluable for countless industries. Let’s take a look at the many benefits our industrial vision systems provide for businesses in a highly competitive marketplace:
- Increases Throughput: On average, a machine vision system can apply corrective actions about one second faster than a trained human operator, eliminating the need for manual corrections and increasing productivity.
- Reduces Scrap: Scrap and material waste can cost manufacturers thousands of dollars. Vision inspection technology can correct part tolerances during manufacturing to produce faster and more efficient results, reducing the amount of scrap and by-products that drive up costs.
- Eliminates Human Error: Automation software eliminates expensive errors that frequently occur from operator fatigue or even person-to-person variance. In fact, machine vision systems can inspect hundreds or even thousands of parts per minute with unwavering speed and accuracy.
- Cuts Costs: With advanced AI software and vision systems, manufacturing speed increases while costly errors and manual labor decrease. AI also lowers the amount of scrap and wasted materials during operation, further reducing expenses. In addition, machines don’t require healthcare benefits, a 401k, or paid time off, resulting in lower hiring and labor costs.
- Decreases Downtime: Operational downtime is a common (and expensive) problem for manufacturers, regardless of industry. Machine vision systems eliminate physical contact between manufactured parts and the test system, safeguarding against downtime, damage, and faulty components.
- Improves Workplace Safety: Industrial vision systems reduce the amount of human involvement in manufacturing processes, creating a safer work environment. Many manufacturing and industrial jobs require working in dangerous environments. Fortunately, vision systems can reduce workplace hazards, making them safer for employees.
Sciotex: Your Trusted Partner and Cutting-Edge Industrial Vision Systems Integrator.
At Sciotex, we have over 20 years of experience as a machine vision integrator. Our innovation backs our stellar reputation. We design and build automated inspection, test, and measurement systems for clients across multiple industries and applications, including manufacturing, pharmaceutical, scientific research, renewable energy, and defense.
Using cutting-edge machine vision technology, software, and equipment, we help our clients continually streamline daily operations by inventing new ways of doing things faster and more efficiently. With a team of certified engineers, state-of-the-art equipment, and the latest technological innovations, we’re the trusted partner of world-class companies all over the globe. We’re proud to say that our solutions deliver an average of seven-month ROI to our clients, driving productivity and long-term growth.
Do you want to learn more about how our machine vision systems have helped manufacturers? Call Sciotex now at (610) 459-9646 and book a consultation with our team of experts.