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Vision sensor has its eye on pick-and-place applications

14 October, 2012

Omron has developed a vision sensor specifically for pick-and-place applications. The compact FQ-M sensor can detect up to 32 items at once, and 5,000 per minute. It incorporates image-processing functions for reliable shape-based detection, even under changeable environmental conditions, and has an incremental encoder input for tracking and calibration.

The sensor is the latest addition to Omron’s Sysmac automation platform, which integrates automation components with a common EtherCat network and a single programming and configuration interface.

The camera communicates with other devices via either EtherCat or standard Ethernet, or both. For example, it can be networked to an Omron NJ series machine controller for object tracking, and to a robot via standard Ethernet.

A palm-sized console provides local monitoring and access to functions and settings. The TouchFinder console includes a 3.5in colour touchscreen. Users can view images in real time and freeze them for closer inspection. The console can also show results, trends and histograms, as well as logging measurement data and images.

Object detection is based on a new contour-based search algorithm said to ensure reliability, regardless of changing lighting conditions, reflections, or the angle of an object. The algorithm can also cope with overlapping or partially hidden objects.

The incremental encoder port simplifies initial calibration and enables on-the-fly tracking for tightly synchronised control. The camera can output position co-ordinates and corresponding encoder values.

The camera is set up using the icon-driven Sysmac Studio software. A vision editor provides trending and logging functions, while a wizard makes it easy to integrate the camera into robot pick-and-place systems.

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