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Vision system moves to view its target

13 December, 2010

Traditionally, vision systems used for quality inspection have been installed at fixed points on assembly lines, with the inspected items moving past on a conveyor belt. Festo claims to have turned this process on its head with a vision system that is fixed to an axis gantry that moves to view the items.

In one of the first applications of the technology, a German vision system integrator called JAM Automation has developed an assembly and inspection cell for an automotive subcontractor. The machine first presses nine soft plastic sockets into a flange plate made of a harder plastic. The vision system then moves automatically to each socket position to carry out a 100% inspection.

If all of the sockets have been correctly press-fitted, nine lamps light on the machine control panel, and the machine operator can remove the flange plate and insert a new one.

“Previously inspection operations of this kind were carried out only by manual visual means, which took much more time and resulted in a higher error rate,” says JAM’s managing partner, Michael Voss. “The moving vision system allows easy inspection, in particular of large workpieces, which are difficult to handle with conventional conveyor systems, and could even be incorporated into a flexible standard test cell.

“Fitting a vision system to a Scara robot would produce similar results,” he adds, “but the costs of the inspection function would be nearly three times as high.”

The SBOC..Q vision system is installed on an electric cantilever-arm, controlled by an integrated CoDeSys PLC with CANopen master functions. No other controllers are needed, simplifying the machine. Festo supplies the handling system assembled, tested and ready to install on the customer’s machine.

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