Machine Vision System for Manufacturing Industry
Published on : Tuesday 02-05-2023
Machine vision solutions make manufacturing processes more efficient and competitive, says Darshana Thakkar.
Over the years, human eyes have been used to identify similarities and differences in the industrial parts, products and processes. The manual process of checking and inspection is time-consuming, creates fatigue in the workers due to repetitive tasks, is prone to error, and is ultimately costly due to high labour costs.
With the emergence of technology, specifically sensors and high-resolution cameras, the inspection and quality check process becomes faster and more accurate. With advanced machine vision systems, nowadays, it has become relatively easy, accurate and cost-effective. Different types of sensors and cameras provide exact information in real time. The connected IoT system provides a signal for appropriate corrective actions in realtime and gives quick feedback to critical decision-making.
Before a few years, the application of these technologies was limited to the large organisations due to its higher initial cost and complexity in the installation and usage.
But with recent advancements and fast pace technology upgradation, the technology has become cost-effective. The applications and installations are developed that are easily implemented in small-scale industries.
Now let us understand this advanced Machine Vision System and its application across the industrial sectors.
Machine vision system
Machine vision is also known as computer vision. A machine can capture and process images. It is a system of hardware and software that enables a machine to ‘see’ and extract information from its environment.
The development of machine learning has allowed machine vision capabilities to expand past repetitive tasks to more complex applications in manufacturing, such as quality assurance, compliance, and inventory management.
Within an Industry 4.0 ecosystem, machine vision systems work continuously and in conjunction with operators, leading to improved efficiency, fewer errors, and better data.
Main components of the machine vision system
a. Cameras capture an image of the object or event that an operator or machine can compare.
b. Image Processing Software: This software analyses the image captured by cameras.
c. Computing Platform: It compares the image processed with the standard input of the product or process available in the system and provides an appropriate signal to the operator or provides a signal to the connected IoT system.
Applications of machine vision systems for the MSME sector
There are several functions where the system is very effective and efficient. Four major areas that can cover wide applications of the Machine vision system
1. Predictive maintenance
Predictive maintenance is diagnosing potential equipment malfunctions in real-time to prevent failures with this ‘sweet spot’ of optimising time and money spent on preventive maintenance compared to time-consuming reactive maintenance. It enables businesses to reduce maintenance costs, generate cost savings, and improve performance.
Monitoring equipment is automated with smart sensors such as machine vision to gather data from equipment, vehicles, or other assets. This data is analysed immediately, triggering an alert if an imminent issue is detected. Machine learning can be used in the cloud or at the edge to combine and analyse data from numerous machines, ensuring the need for maintenance work is accurately predicted.
2. Product inspection and quality control
A machine vision system is used for visual inspection to detect defects and contaminants, check to position, measure parts, measure functional flaws, and sort, track, and prevent other irregularities in manufactured products. A few examples include:
- Flaw detection
- Defect detection
- Foreign particles detection
- Contamination checking
- Test & calibration
- Real-time process control
- Optical fiber drawing
- Hot steel strip rolling
- Data collection & sorting
- Machine monitoring
- Operation monitoring
- Gauging/metrology – not contact measurement, and
- Counting bottles or cans or any other object on a conveyor.
3. Barcode scanning and reading
Computer vision software sets up standard-based support for barcode verification utilising parameters related to the product. Depending on the need of each standard, codes can be visually compared to other printed codes using a 'camera-based' device or an optical character recognition engine.
Computer vision is changing the manufacturing process. Barcodes come in many shapes, sizes, and configurations. Vision systems can identify barcodes regardless of their size, shape, placement or direction will help manufacturers in saving money and time. Application: ID Tracking – OCR, 1D & 2D barcode.
4. Safe work environment
Computer vision systems can detect the lifting equipment used and identify different types of loads. They can monitor the work and provide real-time warnings for employees walking/standing under a suspended load.
Moreover, it quickly analyses employees on the shop floor and identifies what equipment and personal protective equipment they lack. Sometimes timely notification of workers about their equipment can save lives and reduce the risk of accidents.
With the machine vision system installed on the shop floor, the system provides an alert before the worker walks too close to the truck or load. Computer vision cameras capture and collect data, analyse the data, recognise the potential hazard, and within seconds (at most), notify both the worker and the operator to stop via a wearable device, e.g.,
- Detect obstacles and give an alarm or stop
- Material handling - storage, retrieval, routing
- Robotic/machine guidance – recognise, locate, and guide, and
- Vehicle tracking.
Benefits of machine vision system
Machine vision applied to manufacturing can improve product quality and overall system efficiency, increasing the throughput of your manufacturing line, reducing labor costs, and freeing up your staff to focus on higher-value work. Comprehensive benefits to the organisation include:
- Reduced operation cost and product cost
- Improved product quality
- Almost zero rejection
- Reduced downtime and improved product delivery
- Increased workplace safety
- Decreased dependency on manual work and labour, and
- Real-time data availability for critical decision making.
For most small companies, the main problem is the implementation and operation of the technology. Small organisations lack proper knowledge and do not have a technically skilled workforce to customise and program such technology solutions.
But, dear MSME business owners, do not worry. Nowadays, many ready-to-use or easily customisable solutions are available. Now you can have customisable 2D and 3D vision sensors tailored to your business. These ready-to-use solutions are easily configured without a vision or programming expert or can be modified by the sellers to suit the particular application.
SICK AppSpace is a pioneer in these technologies and provides ready-to-use solutions for manufacturing industries. Few examples:
1. Static Package Dimensioning – It provides digital object measurement using 3D snapshot technology:
- Determination of the minimum bounding box of each object
- Lean stand-alone solution – no additional computer required
- Easy-to-use web-based user interface
- 2D colour image, and
- Plug-and-play solution based on SICK AppSpace
2. Intelligent Inspection – It is 2D machine vision solution powered by deep learning:
- Anomaly detection tool and classification tool
- Runs on InspectorP6xx 2D vision sensors
- On-device or dStudio-based labeling, training, and evaluation
- Web user interface
- Traditional rule-based machine vision software tools included, and
- SICK Nova Tools plug-in support.
3. Quality Inspection – It is a 2D machine vision inspection:
- Solving detailed quality inspection applications
- Toolset for presence and measuring inspection, calibration, and location
- Quick customisation and addition of SICK Nova tools
- Various FOVs, resolutions, performance levels, optics, and lighting, and
- The easy-to-use user interface in a web browser.
4. Colour Inspection and Sorting by size and colour:
- Flexible camera, lens, and illumination concept
- Cameras for tight spaces or critical environments
- Intuitive GUI for set-up and output of results
- Flexible camera triggering
- Results from the GUI and output via digital output and TCP/IP, and
- Jobs can be loaded decentrally.
5. Pinspector 2D – monitoring of the presence and position of pins:
- Additional inspections: pattern matching, edge-to-edge measurement, pixel counter, blob inspection, shape locator, reading and verification of 1D and 2D codes
- Web-based user interface, and
- Inspection statistics.
6. 3D Belt Pick – For conveyor belt picking:
- Provides 3D coordinates and measurements of products on a belt
- Easy integration with several robot brands
- Simple hand-eye alignment, and
- Reliable height-based detection.
7. Label Checker-Complex label inspections with high-performance OCR
- OCR, 1D, and 2D codes: reading, recognition, validation, verification
- Additional inspections: pattern matching, edge-to-edge measurement, pixel counter, blob inspection, shape locator, print quality check
- Easy teach-in of custom font
- Flexible range of C-mount lenses and integrated illumination, and
- Web-based user interface.
Machine vision solutions make your manufacturing processes more efficient and competitive. With smart sensors and machine vision systems, manufacturers can transform their businesses to the digital sphere, in the process becoming more competitive in the industry and improving quality.
Solutions driven by SICK AppSpace help to take a significant step towards the future. Industry 4.0 SICK AppSpace enables you to create entirely new and adaptive solutions for automation applications for quality control, positioning, robot guidance, or track and trace.
Darshana Thakkar is MSME Transformation Specialist and Founder, Transformation – The Strategy Hub. An Electrical Engineer followed by MBA – Operations with hardcore industry experience in managing business operations, Darshana is an expert in transformation of businesses that helps them achieve growth with speed and scale. She has invested 27 years in transforming Micro and Small Enterprises. Her rich experience in resolving pain areas and the MSME/SME industry's real-life problems are helping the organisation for quick results.
Darshana has helped many MSMEs to increase profitability & achieve sustainable growth. She is keen on the growth of Indian Startups, providing mentoring and hand-holding support to startups to make them succeed quickly.
She is very passionate about supporting women in pursuing their career and life goals. She is actively working for women's entrepreneurship and leadership development.
• Founder and CEO of Transformation
• Certified Women Director by IICA, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India
• Empanel and recognised Startup mentor and Trainer by CED, Government of Gujarat
• Registered and Verified Business Advisor – Tata Nexarc, Tata Business HUB, Mumbai, and
• Chairperson: MSME Support & PRO at Makarpura GIDC Association, Vadodara.
MSME Transformation and Strategic Advisor – MSME Business Forum India, Darshana has received various accolades:
• Winner of Gujarat Women's leader award 2022 by CMO Asia
• Winner of Influential Women leader in business by Insight Success 2022
• Recognised as India's most trusted consulting company by Insight Success 2022
• Felicitated by Mentor my board in the gracious presence of Honourable FM Mrs. Nirmala Sitaraman during Women Director's conclave – 2022
• Felicitated by the president of Makarpura GIDC Association during the Suvarna Jayanti Mahotsav on 17th December 2022 for her excellent contribution in supporting MSME and startup Businesses.
Apart from this, she is an author and publishes her blog, article, and case study related to the industry. Email: email@example.com