Machine Vision

Industrial Machine Vision Ignites a Fireworks of Innovations at AUTOMATICA 2014

January 8, 2014

Industrial Machine Vision (IMV) is one of the most innovative key technologies in the automation industry. Increasing performance of hardware and software, faster cameras, higher computing power, new interfaces and the like in automation are opening up new application fields. AUTOMATICA is presenting the newest components and complete solutions with specific reference to industrial applications in Munich from June 3 to 6, 2014.

A large share of automation tasks would not be feasible in actual practice without machine vision. Regardless of whether in traditional quality assurance, automatic part feed or as "visual aids" for robots, vision systems prove their worth in very different applications. It is no wonder that the industry is on the way to a new sales record for 2013.

"We expect a sales increase of approximately five percent to a total of 1.6 billion euros in the German machine vision industry for 2013. Growth is being driven by increasing demand from North America and Asia, the striving of manufacturing companies to achieve higher quality and efficiency as well as the fact that machine vision is continually opening up new application areas," according to Patrick Schwarzkopf, Head of VDMA Industrial Machine Vision. Correspondingly, a special trend cannot be detected in advance of the trade fair, but instead there is a very wide spectrum of novelties and innovations.

A great number of trendy topics

The trendy topics awaited with great anticipation in the camera field certainly include dual 2D machine vision versus 3D machine vision, CMOS versus CCD sensors as well as smart cameras versus PC-supported systems. While some people consider 3D sensors and 3D applications both in the area of quality assurance as well as in part feeding to be the next big things, such considerations are still a long way off for others.

One of the advocates of 3D technology is Ira Effenberger, who works as group leader at the Fraunhofer Institute IPA with her staff on solutions for demanding applications: "The trend here both in automated part feeding as well as in quality assurance is increasingly from process-integrated 2D solutions to 3D machine vision systems. We have developed interesting 3D solutions based on light-section sensor technology for both tasks. We are also going to present the results at AUTOMATICA."

It is uncontested that thanks to 3D vision systems, completely new applications are being opened up, which will provide further growth for machine vision. An interesting aspect for users: cameras and sensors are not only becoming more efficient and compact, which simplifies their integration, but also more inexpensive. This aspect plays into the hands of integrators in implementing economic solutions and creates additional potential for the technology.

Smart camera versus PC-supported machine vision

Another trend in industrial machine vision is represented by smart cameras, which take and can evaluate pictures thanks to an integrated processor unit for data processing. This compact and inexpensive alternative to traditional PC-based machine vision systems is becoming increasingly popular. The advantages are obvious: "Smart camera solutions are simple, easy to operate, fast and robust. In addition, this technology can eliminate the PC as largest squanderer of space and resources and is first choice for sustainable and energy-efficient production thanks to its significantly lower consumption of electricity," according to Michael Engel, Managing Director at Vision Components GmbH and inventor of the first intelligent camera suitable for industrial use.

The exhibitors at AUTOMATICA will show how far advanced the miniaturization of the high-tech components is in the meantime and which new application fields can be opened up with even smaller and more efficient cameras. The enormous efficiency of modern vision systems with resolutions of up to 16 megapixels and more also require corresponding interfaces to be able to transmit the huge data quantities quickly. USB 3.0 could succeed in a breakthrough to a mainstream, high performance interface here. USB 3.0 achieves approx. 3.5-fold gigabit Ethernet speed with 5 GBit/s gross and 400 MByte/s net. As a result, the ultra-fast interface will become an enabler for new and especially demanding applications.

Watch the service robotics film of AUTOMATICA here:  

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