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Promoting the use of vision systems in automation

06 July 2009

Festo UK has entered into a strategic partnership with the specialist machine vision company V-viz, to promote the use of intelligent vision systems in automation. The affiliation comes at a particularly pertinent time for manufacturers seeking to counter the effects of the recession by maximising the efficiency and quality of their production processes – these are areas where high speed image capture and analysis can play a vital role.

Promoting the use of vision systems in automation
Promoting the use of vision systems in automation

V-viz is a leading provider of automated inspection and traceability solutions. Based in Offchurch, Warwickshire, the company was founded in 2004 and has already established an enviable reputation for its expertise and innovation in high quality machine vision systems.

Under the terms of the Partnership, V-viz will support a wide range of sales, installation and commissioning tasks, with Festo manufacturing the vision system hardware and application software. According to Mark Worlidge, managing director of V-viz, “To realise their full potential, vision systems need to be deployed very carefully and by proven experienced professionals, paying particular attention to factors such as the selection of correct lighting. On no account should such systems simply be shoehorned into machines – they need to be properly integrated and optimised to suit the application and their environment.”

Festo will be supplying V-viz with its latest SBO intelligent vision systems. Developed specifically for use in factory automation, these exceptionally compact smart camera systems feature substantial built-in intelligence and control logic. They can be supplied as intelligent wide area based systems for quality and inspection roles or set up to acquire high quality images at very high speeds, without the need for a separate processor. The high speed versions of these cameras can be used for process monitoring and commissioning, recording the manufacturing processes, to identify operating problems and aid the appropriate remedial action.

Festo’s SBO intelligent vision systems are some of the smallest high-speed cameras on the market, and are thought to be the only models available sealed to IP65/67 standard. The quality-monitoring versions of the cameras offer extremely short inspection times, enabling higher throughput than rival systems. Speed of set-up is another key advantage, making 100% quality inspection and reduction of process downtime achievable in an industrial environment.

The high speed camera is capable of accommodating frame rates as high as 2,000 per second to facilitate monitoring of very fast motion sequences, and is able to save acquired images as compressed JPEG files in order to minimise memory requirements. In normal use, the camera records continuously – either saving the images to an internal ring buffer with a 10 second capacity, or streaming them to an external hard drive – until instructed to stop by a trigger signal. The vision systems feature an integral web server and can be networked via standard Ethernet, and are controlled by an industry-standard PC. A time synchronisation feature enables multiple camera installations to be set up and controlled in a very flexible manner.

Nigel Dawson, Festo product manager, pointed out that intelligent vision systems have a key role to play in helping manufacturers optimise their production processes. “We are seeing increasing use of systems with integrated vision, motion and control functions. Many customers already use our SBO cameras for applications such as process monitoring, parts recognition, fault diagnosis – and even in closed-loop configurations for dynamic process optimisation. But by far the largest application area is in accelerating quality control – by using intelligent vision systems to help reduce scrap rates and eliminate bottlenecks on production machinery, manufacturers can increase their productivity significantly. This is where we believe our alliance with V-viz is likely to prove most beneficial to customers – the company has considerable expertise in vision integration, software adaptation and process optimisation, and we are very pleased to be working with them to advance the role of intelligent vision in automation.”

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