Cimtec Automation Blog
Showing posts with label Solutions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Solutions. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

CIMTEC Announces CDI Systems as an option for Cognex VisionView VGA andVision View PC

Computer Dynamics systems packaged with Cognex VisionView available from CIMTEC

CIMTEC Automation is now providing Computer Dynamics Industrial Flat Panel systems with Cognex VisionView software.  VisionView is ideal for monitoring and controlling vision systems and industrial ID readers on the factory floor, and allows operator controls specific to the application. The VisionView application software offers the following features:
  • Automatic detection. VisionView will automatically detect any Cognex vision system on your network.
  • Mix and match Cognex In-Sight systems. VisionView allows you to view up to twelve In-Sight vision systems in a tiled view.
  • Graphical interface. VisionView displays full color images, with graphic overlays and operator controls.
  • Fast image updates. VisionView provides the most recent inspection images so you can view your process in real-time.
  • Access to CustomViews. The operator controls created in the spreadsheet automatically appear in VisionView.
  • EasyView display. Items selected from In-Sight EasyBuilder interface software will appear on the VisionView screen, with impressive ease of use.
  • Run-time ability to train fonts, without a PC.  No downtime is required during changeovers. Ideal for OCR/OCV applications.

PAC-OPR Products + VisionView PC
PAC-OPR running Cognex VisionView PC The PAC-OPR products are industrial NEMA 12 panel-mount flat panel computers with 2 PCI slots.  This product is available in three different panel sizes: 15” 1024x768, 17” 1280x1024, and 19” 1280x1024.  In addition to the display choice, this system includes: a Resistive touchscreen, 1.83GHz (667 MHz FSB) T5600 C2D Processor with 2GB of DDR-2 RAM, Windows XP Pro installed (no CD media included). A 250GB (or greater) Hard Drive, 5-in-1 card reader, and DVD-ROM are also included as standard.  Monitor and control the vision application with the VisionView interface.

VAMP-WN Products + VisionView VGA
CDI Thinview Display showing Cognex VisionView VGA The VAMP-WN is a highly configurable industrial flat panel display with a wide variety of packaging options.  The stocked configurations are 15” 1024x768, 17” 1280x1024, and 19” 1280x1024 panels with a NEMA4 panel-mount front bezel and resistive  touchscreen. Monitor and control the vision application with the VisionView interface via VGA and serial connections using the provided cables. This provides the flexibility to connect smaller- or larger-size monitors for “control room” viewing of images, results, CustomViews, and EasyViews.

PAC-SSX + VisionView PC
CDI PAC-SSX running VisionView PC The PAC-SSX is an industrial flat panel computer in a rugged, fully-sealed IP65 stainless steel chassis.  This system includes:  a 15" 1024x768 TFT, resistive touchscreen, fanless 1.86GHz ATOM D2550 Processor with 2GB of DDR RAM, 32G solid state flash drive, and Windows XP Pro installed.  There are no moving parts in this system which results in a very robust, long lasting product! Monitor and control the vision application with the VisionView interface.

For more information on Flat Panel Display Systems, head over to  Computer Dynamics offers a wide variety of flat panel display solutions and can provide units ready to ship from our inventory as well as custom display solutions for any application need.

Friday, July 12, 2013

DVT Machine Vision Users...the Time is Now! DVT Cameras are Obsolete!

DVT Cameras have been obsolete for years now, with no spares on shelves anywhere…what is your plan to migrate forward safely and effectively?  Don’t get caught in a down situation with obsolete equipment!
DVT to InsightIt is well known that Cognex acquired DVT and assimilated the best features of both worlds together to move forward into the future of machine vision.  The result…“EasyBuilder” for In-Sight Explorer gives users a Point-and-Click environment for bringing your machine vision application to deployment faster and easier than ever before!
Cognex EasyBuilder
The image-centric interface with application steps walks users right through setting up a vision system start-to-finish.  It is intuitive and simple to use, while also being more capable than ever with the latest vision tools and algorithms from Cognex!

Cognex has also released their latest addition to the In-Sight product line – the In-Sight 7000 Series.

In-Sight IS7000
The In-Sight 7000 delivers unprecedented capabilities that allow you to perform super-reliable inspections no matter how tight your space is or how fast your line moves – and you get it all in a compact industrial IP67 package designed for the harshest, most demanding conditions.
Maximum speed and flexibility in even the tightest spots…

  • Auto-focus lens – M12 integrated lens mechanically auto-focuses to handle an assortment of parts and quick changeover on your line. With the integrated auto-focus lens, also comes an integrated ring light available in a variety of colors for every application.

  • Smarter tools – You get In-Sight measurement, location and inspection vision tools and the flexible EasyBuilder environment to make all inspection, defect detection, guidance, alignment and measurement applications easy to set up and deploy.

  • Faster image capture – Benefit from high acquisition speeds with a maximum of over 100 image captures per second giving you reliable inspection performance on even the fastest bottling and pharmaceutical production lines.

  • No additional power required - Power and control specialized lighting directly which eliminates the need for external power supplies.
    Seamless communication – Cognex Connect™ offers the widest range of built-in communication protocols. The In-Sight 7000 features built-in Ethernet, RS-232 Serial and multiple discrete IOs. The system can communicate directly to a PLC or robot controller and manage multiple smart cameras remotely from a networked PC or HMI.
    Size – 75mm x 55mm x 47mm, offering the most streamlined profile for In-Sight vision systems.

Please contact us today about your machine vision needs!

call 704-227-4600, or e-mail our applications group at

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Computer Dynamics, A Division of Cimtec Automation, releases i5Processors on the WN Product Platforms

dp_i5_wnComputer Dynamics, A Division of Cimtec Automation, is pleased to announce the addition of the Intel Core i5 processor to the DisplayPac-WN family of products. The DisplayPac-WN family of Industrial Panel PCs is one of Computer Dynamics longest running product lines and it now incorporates the newer 3rd Generation Intel Core i5 processors.  In addition to the performance boost from the newer processor technology, the new Mini-ITX Intel HM76 based motherboard supports up to 16GB of DDR3 memory.

The Core i5 processor is an excellent choice for customers that need higher performance, but want to balance cost and power consumption.  The DisplayPac-WN product family continues to offer a wide selection of panel sizes, packaging options, and touchscreen technologies.  Computer Dynamics Sales Engineers are trained to suggest the right product for our customer’s applications.  The Intel Core i5 offering gives our Sales Engineers another way to help our customers choose the right product for any industrial PC application.

Based on the third generation Intel Core i5 processors, the DisplayPac-i5-WN series of Panel PCs are an excellent performance solution for Industrial Computing needs. The platform offers flat panels ranging in size from 15" to 21.5" and come with a touchscreen. The systems can be configured either with a panel-mount plate or with a stand-alone chassis. Additionally, the displays can be made sunlight readable.

The Core i5 version of the DisplayPac-WN fits in same footprint as the Core 2 Duo DisplayPac-WN systems for easy upgrade.  The DisplayPac-WN-C2D products will continue to be sold as they are today.

Please visit our website at for more information.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Camber Inspection System (CIS) from Cimtec Engineered Products

Often during manufacturing process of bars, beams and machined parts maintaining a tight tolerance for straightness, run out and roundness is required. Automating this inspection process can improve productivity, efficiency, quality and throughput.

The Cimtec Camber Inspection System (CIS) utilizes a high accuracy SICK laser based sensor to measure the distance from a fixed position on the users machine to the part to be inspected. As in the most recent example of a bar straightening system for major metals manufacturer in North Carolina, the sensor head was mounted to the ram of the hydraulic press for straightening large diameter metal bars.

During the straightening operation the system performed two (2) full rotations and provided a stop signal to alert the customer’s machine controller of a high or low point during the product rotation. A Horner PLC with integral HMI coordinated the dimensional measurement information and displayed the results to the operator.

The Camber Inspection System (CIS) interprets analog signals from the SICK DT20 HI high accuracy Laser based sensor. This allows the system to determine the high and low positions throughout the product rotation very quickly and accurately. The Camber Inspection System (CIS) can be easily programmed and provides simple product set up selection for the operator.

A visual indicator light and option for audible alarm is also provided to alert the operator when the high or low point is identified around the product circumference. The physical mounting considerations take into account the potentially harsh working environment. The controls are typically housed in a NEMA 4X cabinet capable of being mounted at a typical operator control station.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

GE-IP Innovation Showcase - Wrightsville Beach - Oct 15

Come see how new collaborative automation solutions from GE Intelligent Platforms will enable you to transform your business

GE Intelligent Platforms is changing what is possible in the world of industrial automation. We invite you to join us for the unveiling of GE’s revolutionary new automation solutions at one of our global Innovation Showcase events.

To register for the Monday, October 15th showcase, please Click Here

Wrightsville Beach Location
The Blockade Runner Beach Resort
275 Waynick Boulevard
Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480

12:00 Lunch
1:00 Presentation
3:00 Labs

The Future of the Industrial Revolution begins here

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Cimtec 3D Surface Inspection

For the full-length version of the video, click here.

Cimtec Engineered Products is pleased to announce the release of 'Cimtec3D' software paired with 3D laser line profile sensors and cameras.  This capability allows us and our customers to move beyond the traditional 2D image inspection to the realm of true 3 dimensional surface inspection.

The 3D laser line profile sensors and cameras provide a scan of the part or surface outputting the full x, y, and z data to Cimtec3D.  They are precalibrated sensors that house the camera imager and laser line generator together for very precise real-world readings.  Cimtec3D has the ability to view and analyze a surface profile-by-profile, or stitch them altogether to view as a 'whole part' scan in a 16-bit grayscale image.  Statistical analysis and other image preprocessing is also applied to the image for nominal surface detection.

The 3D inspection finds surface flaws and reports their location in x, y, and z along with size characteristics such as:  area, length, elongation, spread, and volume.  After inspection, you have the ability to save the 16-bit images with or without the graphical results, and the ability to save the data to csv file.

Lastly, the GUI can be customized for your application and need, including a run-time display with operator interface.

Please contact your Cimtec representative today for more information or click here.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Cimtec is pleased to announce integration of CDI team

Press Release below...


CIMTEC Automation (Charlotte, NC) today announced that it has acquired Computer Dynamics, Inc. (CDI), formerly a wholly owned subsidiary of GE Intelligent Platforms(GE IP). The acquisition will combine CIMTEC's established distribution base, in-house repair capabilities, and on-line presence with the wide variety of Industrial Computer Platforms and Flat Panel Display systems from CDI

“This acquisition will give our existing customers the ability to continue to purchase most of the products in the CDI product line, will enable us to continue to support our customers through improved customer service, and will allow us to bring products to market more quickly than before,” states CDI Product Manager, Tom Behnke. “The overwhelming feedback from our existing customers has been extremely positive regarding the continuance of the product line.”

For CDI products other than the Wolverine, CIMTEC Automation will provide:
  • Presales support for new product purchases
  • Warranty support for the CDI installed base, excluding the Wolverine product line
  • Out of warranty repair support for the installed base of CDI products
  • Technical support for the CDI installed base
For the past 25 years, CIMTEC Automation has been a leading provider of factory automation products, services and engineered solutions, incorporating PLC products from GE IP, motion control products, vision products and software technology into unique solutions to meet diverse automation challenges. Headquartered in Charlotte, NC, CIMTEC also provides technical and field support services plus complete automation engineering. The company’s Qualitrol ( division has provided repair services for most major PLC lines and offered remanufactured PLC parts for obsolete and discontinued products lines for the past 18 years. Combined with the expertise of our customer service and support staff, CIMTEC Automation offers today’s manufacturers a unique, one-stop automation solution.

Two former CDI employees who have joined CIMTEC will be the points of contact for product and repair inquiries. For Repair and RMA support, contact Tom Behnke (, and for Product inquiries, contact Ryan Nelson ( Tom and Ryan can be reached toll-free (US and Canada) at 1-866-599-6512, or at 704-227-4600.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Sick IVC 3D Demo setup

3D machine vision proof of concept demo of the Sick IVC-3D.   We inspect a metal bracket with a small 0.5mm imperfection and show the rendered model after the laser scanning.

NOTE:  the screen capture is full screen,  for best results,  right click the "video" link and save the target file, then view the video in quicktime

Setup video

Screen Session video

Final images of the intensity image and the 3D image

Monday, March 5, 2012

Migrating from older GE PLC’s

CIMTEC Automation  has been selling GE PLC’s since the mid-eighties introduction of the Series Six. Many of the PLC’s are still running factories today but there is an ever present fear that should they fail a replacement would not be easy to find. Many controls engineers also recognize that a proactive migration while the system is functioning would be less costly, less risky, and less stressful to all those involved.

While it can be easy to push the latest and greatest technology there can be roadblocks on the path to a newer control system. CIMTEC has developed and executed many migration projects using these steps to ensure a migration can be done with no surprises and for as low a cost as possible.
  1. Customer provides current program running in old system
  2. GE product specialist will review program to develop comprehensive proposal
  3. Upon acceptance of proposal migration begins and involves many steps:
    1. Hardware evaluation:
      1. What modules can stay as is?
      2. What modules require new firmware or chips?
      3. What modules need to be replaced?
    2. Program evaluation:
      1. How many rungs of logic are we dealing with?
      2. How many instructions won’t convert well?
      3. Are the rung comments in the right place?
      4. Do tag names follow current software rules/conventions or will they need to be manually changed?
      5. How complex will the I/O map change be?
      6. Should functions that are available now but were not historically be used to simplify logic?
      7. Are there portions of the program that should be removed entirely as they won’t be necessary?
      8. How much manual intervention will be required?
    3. Program conversion
    4. Proof read of converted program (3 hours to 3 weeks depending on length)
    5. Manual intervention of converted program
    6. Acquisition of proposed hardware
    7. Testing of program in proposed hardware

Delivery and installation of new hardware and converted program.

For more information please contact us

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

10 Questions You Must Ask When Buying a Vision Sensor or Vision System

With so many vision systems available today, it can be a daunting task trying to figure out which one is right for your particular application. Simply finding a system that can perform the necessary vision tasks is not enough; there are several other factors that need to be considered to ensure a successful deployment.
These include:

  • Variations in lighting conditions
  • Networking and communications capabilities
  • Accessories and product support options
  • Ongoing post-deployment support

Whether you are new to machine vision or an experienced user, this guide will help you through the vision system selection process, providing answers to ten critical questions and valuable tips for evaluating specific product features.

1. Does the vision system make it easy to set up applications, create custom operator interfaces and administer vision system networks?

Setting up a vision application should not require you to be a machine vision expert. Does the setup interface walk you through all of the steps of a vision application, including setting up the acquisition settings, finding and inspecting the part and communicating the results to other devices on the factory floor? Does it require programming knowledge, or is it a configurable system? Does the setup software make it simple to calibrate the system to work in real world units instead of pixels? As you add tools to the application, does it show you a quick view of which tools are passing and failing to help you understand how well the application is set up? Does it allow you to build a complete operator interface to allow changing tolerances or to support line changeovers?
Make sure the operator interface you create can perform the following tasks:

  • Display images with graphics to allow for immediate analysis of failed parts,
  • Enable operators to easily turn the inspection on and off and modify tolerances, and
  • Display pass/fail results statistics to quickly spot shifts in trends.

2. What is the importance of part location tools, and how can I assess their performance?

Part location software tools find the part within the camera’s field of view. This is typically the first step in any vision application, from the simplest robot pick-and-place operation to the most complex assembly verification task. It's also the most critical step, because it often determines whether an application succeeds or fails, since you can’t inspect, measure or identify the part if you can’t find it.

While it sounds simple enough, locating parts in an actual production environment can be extremely challenging. Vision systems are trained to recognize parts based on a pattern, but even the most tightly controlled manufacturing processes allow some variability in the way a part appears to the vision system. Therefore, the vision system’s part location tools must be intelligent enough to quickly, and accurately compare trained patterns to the actual objects moving down a production line, and tolerate variations in part appearance. It’s important for pattern matching tools to be able to tolerate large variations in contrast and ignore lighting changes, while being reliable enough to always find the right part.
How can you tell if a vision system’s part location tools will be able to accurately and reliably find parts under the range of conditions in your factory? Following is a list of ten of the most problematic conditions vision systems face, potential causes for those problems, and quick tests you can use to evaluate a vision system’s ability to locate your parts under each condition.

3. Does the vision system have a complete set of image pre-processing tools?

Image pre-processing tools alter the raw image to emphasize desired features while minimizing undesirable features. This prepares the image for optimal performance by more powerful vision tools and can significantly improve the accuracy and robustness of the overall system. Pre-processing tools can:

  • Increase the contrast between the part and its background
  • Mask insignificant and potentially confusing image features
  • Eliminate “hot spots” reflecting off the part surface, and
  • Smooth rough surface textures

Make sure that a complete set of image pre-processing tools is included with the vision system you choose.

4. What should I look for in character reading and verification capabilities?

Whether you’re reading stamped alphanumeric codes on automotive parts or verifying date and lot code information on medicine bottles or packages, there are several capabilities to look for when evaluating character reading and verification tools, including:

  • Statistical font training—This capability builds a font by learning models of characters that appear in a series of images. The images should include multiple instances of each character, and span the full range of quality likely to occur in production. The resulting font will be highly tolerant of normal variations in print quality, whether due to poor contrast, variable locations, degradations, or variations in stroke widths. Unless you know in advance that every code will be marked with the same quality seen in the reference images used to learn the character models, statistical font training can be crucial to the success of your reading or verification application.

  • Image pre-processing tools—These tools optimize a trained model by sharpening the edge contrast of characters and filtering out extraneous background in the image. Optimized models maximize the reliability and repeatability of the vision system. See Question 3 for more information about image pre-processing.

  • Instant image recall—This capability enables line operators and technicians to quickly and easily view failed images on a display. Whether the failure is caused by a camera jarred out of position or a missing or damaged label, it is important to know immediately why the failure occurred so corrective actions may be taken.

In a packaging plant, package and container materials, labeling equipment, printing methods, and ambient lighting conditions can vary considerably over time.
As you evaluate a vision system, be sure to test the system on a large sample of good, marginal, and poor quality labels to see how the system performs under variable real-world conditions.
And because character positions can shift from label to label, it’s also a good idea to enlarge the region of interest around the character string.
This will help you determine how reliably the vision system’s reading and verification tools operate within a larger search region.

5. How can I determine the repeatability of a vision system’s gauging tools?

If your application involves critical dimensional measurements, the vision system’s gauging tools must be accurate and perform with a very high degree of repeatability.

The vision system should have a full suite of gauging tools which will allow you to choose the right one to fit the requirements of your measurement application without having to write custom scripts or functions.

For high accuracy measurements, the vision system should be able to correct the lens distortion that can affect measurements, especially in the outer areas of the image.

Gauging repeatability can be tested by presenting a part to the vision system and having it perform the same measurement 25 times or more without changing part position, lighting, or any other variables. Record and analyze the measurements, making sure that any variance is well within the measurement tolerance for your application.

6. How do I evaluate industrial code reading tools and what are some specific features to look for?

Industrial environments demand a vision system that can read 2D Data Matrix codes that are degraded, poorly marked, or vary in position from part to part. The vision system should perform well regardless of the part material (such as metal, glass, ceramic, and plastic) and the type of part marking method employed (such as dot peen, etching, hot stamping, and inkjet).

Beyond these criteria, there are several specific code reading features worth inquiring about:

  • Code quality verification—Look for products that can verify code quality to established standards. This can provide valuable information about how well the marking process is working.

  • Reading speed—Depending on your production line speed and throughput requirements, you may need a very high-speed reader. The fastest vision systems available today can read more than 7200 codes per minute.

To evaluate industrial code reading tools, start by measuring the vision system’s reading speed. To do this, present a well-marked code to the vision system and have it read the code hundreds of times under pristine conditions to determine the number of reads per minute. Make sure the read rate under these optimized conditions is 100%, or you may face problems later when conditions might be less than ideal. For example, at a production line speed of 2000 parts per hour, a read rate of 99.7% would fail to read the ID codes on 48 parts in just one eight-hour shift!

After establishing the system’s reading speed, you should run a more challenging read rate test to determine the impact of factors such as line vibration, variable lighting conditions, and extremely high line speeds on the vision system’s reading performance in your application. To do this, present a large sample of codes of good, bad, and marginal quality to the vision system. At the same time, simulate vibration and motion blur by shaking the part and sliding it back and forth beneath the camera as it acquires an image. This test will provide a good initial assessment of how well the vision system’s read rate will hold up under real-world production conditions.

7. What networking and communications features should I look for?

Networking is essential to many vision applications as a means to share data, support decision-making, and enable highly-efficient integrated processes. For example, networking enables vision systems to transmit pass/fail results to PCs for analysis, or communicate directly with PLCs, robots, and other factory automation devices in an integrated process control system.

If you need to link your vision systems to PCs at the enterprise level, choose a system that supports the complete set of standard networking protocols:

  • TCP/IP client/server enables vision systems to easily share results data with other vision systems and control devices over Ethernet without any code development.

  • SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) enables you to immediately receive an e-mail on your PC or cell phone when a problem occurs on the production line.

  • FTP (File Transfer Protocol) allows inspection images to be stored on the network for later analysis.

  • Telnet is an Internet standard protocol that enables remote login and connection from host devices.

  • DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) allows a vision system to automatically receive its network IP address from a server, enabling true plug-and-play performance.

  • DNS (Domain Name Service) allows you to assign each vision system a meaningful name, such as “Bottling Line System 1”, instead of having to use a numeric IP address.

To integrate a vision system with the PLCs, robots and other automation devices in your plant, the system you choose must also support the following:

  • Industrial Ethernet protocols such as EtherNet/IP, PROFINET, MC Protocol and Modbus TCP. These enable vision systems to be linked to the most popular PLCs and other devices over a single Ethernet cable, eliminating the need for complex wiring schemes and costly network gateways.

  • Fieldbus networks, including CC-Link, DeviceNet, and PROFIBUS. A protocol gateway accessory is usually needed to add a vision system to a Fieldbus network.

  • RS-232 and RS-485 serial protocols, needed to communicate with most robot controllers.

Finally, as more and more vision systems are used throughout the manufacturing process, the need for a centralized way of managing them becomes increasingly important. Make sure the vision system you choose comes with software that allows you to easily control and monitor the operation of all your vision systems remotely over the network from any location—on or off the plant floor.

8. What should I know about vision system accessories?

Too often, so much attention is given to evaluating the vision system that accessory products are almost an afterthought. But the choice of accessories can go a long way towards ensuring trouble-free system integration and, in the case of lighting, can even make or break the application.

For quick and painless integration of your vision system, it makes sense to buy from a vendor that offers a complete family of compatible accessories. This gives you the assurance of knowing that each and every accessory has been tested and confirmed to be compatible with the vision system. More importantly, during the application evaluation process, the salesperson should be able to help specify the best lighting and optics solution to give the best chance for a successful vision application.

Accessories to look for include:

  • Lights—No two production areas have the same ambient light conditions, and parts can exhibit a wide range of surface characteristics. Nearly every machine vision solution requires a unique lighting approach to meet its objectives and optimize performance. Your vision system vendor should offer a variety of lighting options, including: ring lights, which provide soft, even illumination from all directions; back lights, which create maximum contrast between a part and its background; and dark field lights, which provide low-angle illumination for imaging of part surface irregularities.

  • Communications modules—Make sure your vendor offers communications peripherals such as I/O modules and network gateway modules that support easy, quick connectivity between the vision system and PLCs, robots, and other factory automation devices and networks. Industrial connectors?

  • Operator interface panels—A networked operator interface panel allows easy, plug-and-go set-up and deployment, plus ongoing monitoring and control of vision systems without a PC. When selecting an operator interface panel, look for one with an intuitive, touch-screen interface and support for multiple camera views. It should also be tough enough to stand up to the manufacturing environment, with an anti-glare impact shielded LCD display and NEMA-rated mounting bezel that provides a dust- and liquid-tight seal when mounted in a panel or enclosure.
9. Does the vision system vendor offer a wide range of hardware options? Are they rugged enough for my environment?

Your chosen supplier should be able to offer you a variety of choices of systems base on performance, resolution and durability. Machine vision is not a “one-size-fits-all” purchase. Your application may require a line scan camera as opposed to an area scan system or even a color system. You may need more resolution in order to meet your tighter tolerances or need a system that can withstand wash down. Your supplier should be able to provide options that will meet your needs of inspection and also for your physical environment.

Additional questions include: Do you have room to install a vision system on your line? If space is a constraint, there should be options in terms of actual system size as well as acquisition options. For example:  If the viewable product space is limited, a line scan camera maybe an option to consider. Unlike area scan cameras that need to see the entire part to take a full snapshot of it, a line scan camera needs to see only a sliver of the product to build the entire image into memory. Think of this comparison as a photo copier (area scan), vs. a desktop scanner (line scan). Or if the space to install the vision system is limited, a smaller package would take up less room and require less mounting space.

Once you have the physical size constraints taken care of, it is now a question of what resolution is necessary for your specific application. Resolution of a vision system is the size of the imager used and is given in pixels. Typically, the more pixels you have, the more data you capture per feature. The more data per feature, the more accurate and repeatable measurements you will have. To get an idea of resolution, ask yourself, what field of view do I really need? Do I need to capture the width of the assembly line, or a portion of a larger part, or the entire part itself? What do I need to see in the image in order to inspect this part? The target resolution is determined from these answers. For example: Your inspection is to count the number of parts on a tray. If your field of view is the width of your assembly line, for example, 12 inches, and your vision system has a resolution of 640 x 480, then you would have 640 pixels to equal 12 inches. This equates to 53 pixels per inch (or each pixel represents 0.018 inches). If you are counting the number of parts in each tray, this resolution may be sufficient. However, if you are measuring the width of each individual part and need a tolerance of +/- 0.001 inches. Then more pixels will provide you with more data per feature to achieve the accuracy of the tolerance.

Sometimes, the features you are inspecting do not have enough contrast in a monochrome vision system, even with specific lights and filtering. A color system maybe able to bring out the subtle differences in features and colors that you need in order to complete your inspection.

Some vision systems are assembled into rugged, IP and NEMA-rated metal cases to withstand dust and moisture without requiring a separate enclosure accessory. However, if the environment in your plant is especially harsh or requires frequent wash down of equipment, ask your prospective supplier if they offer external enclosures pre-qualified for use with the system.

10. Does the vision system supplier provide the support and learning services I need?

Even the highest performance vision system is only as good as the suppliers who stand behind it. It’s important to know in advance the full range of support services available to you. Be sure that the vision supplier you choose understands your unique support requirements and provides you with all of the resources you will need during every phase of the project, from application development and systems integration, to deployment and beyond.

Important questions to consider include:

  • Can the vision supplier provide a dedicated machine vision specialist to assist you with the initial application evaluation? It’s important to work with experienced sales and applications engineers to make sure that the application can be done, and at the right price/performance.

  • Does the vision system manufacturer have a global network for post-sales support? This is especially important if the system is commissioned in one location and shipped to another.

  • Does the vision system manufacturer offer a wide range of cost effective training and support options, including online self-help and training courses, worldwide phone support, and personalized training services?

  • If you are buying from a distributor or systems integrator, are they authorized partners of the vision system manufacturer?

  • Does the vision supplier offer more sophisticated systems and tools if your application requires it, or if your needs change?
Final Thoughts

The best suppliers don’t merely try to sell you a product—they take the time to carefully understand and evaluate all of your requirements before proposing a solution.
This is exactly the approach that Cognex and its global network of distributors take. We’re here not just to answer all of the 10 Questions You Must Ask, but any other questions you may have. Working closely with you, we’ll match you to the right solution for your application, whether it's a full vision system, affordable smart sensors, or customized PC solutions.
ROTATION  No part fixturing
 Loose part fixturing
 Rotate the part from
0 to 360 degrees
BLUR  Part is in motion
 Nearby motors and other
production equipment causing
 Camera lens is out of focus
 Distance between camera and
part varies slightly
 Slightly shake the part around under
the camera
 Defocus the camera lens
 Move the camera nearer to and
farther from the part
SCALE CHANGES  Distance between camera and
part varies slightly
 Move the camera nearer to and
farther from the part
POOR CONTRAST  Part blends into background
 Part has poorly defined edges
 Present part against a background
of a similar color
UNEVEN LIGHTING  Ambient light changes over
time, e.g. external sunlight
 Robot arm or other equipment
creates shadows
 Surface reflectivity varies from
one part to the next
 Change room lighting between
bright and dim, and open and close
lens aperture
 Use your hand or other object to
create a shadow over the part
 Shine bright light across the
part surface
 Multiple, unfixtured parts
moving down the line
 Overlap a portion of the part with
another object
 Inconsistencies in the
manufacturing process
 Present multiple parts that vary in
appearance from process effects

Monday, October 17, 2011

Cimtec to Host GE-IP Modernization Workshop Dec 6.

Dec 6, 2011:    Charlotte NC.

Signup information and promotional offer below.

Reduce the complexity, improve the performance, and lower the cost of your distributed control system

This unique workshop will demonstrate how you can save time, reduce hardware cost and improve your system’s performance. See the latest capabilities made possible by Ethernet technology, and learn about powerful integration tools to easily migrate your systems—using the integrated Profinet Network on our PACSystems RX3i controller, VersaMax distributed I/O, and a wide range of third-party devices.

Seats are limited—register below!

Sign up here:

Promotional Offer:   RX3i Profinet Starter Kit rev2

Friday, October 14, 2011

Identifying Registration Marks in Laminate Films

By using a registration mark, not only is the final print of higher quality, but less scrap is created by print passes that do not line up.

Many manufacturing processes rely on registration marks to line up sheet materials for cutting or printing. Some packaging companies use multi-laminate films for their packaging applications, and can require elaborate printed graphics that include several colors. If even one of the colors is offset, the resulting print can appear blurred. In order to maintain a high level of quality with these complex printing systems, printers use registration marks on the base film to act as an orientation point for multi-color printing so that all of the color passes a realigned. By using a registration mark not only is the final print of higher quality, but less scrap is created by print passes that do not line up.

The registration mark is only one part of the alignment process. The printing system has to be able to identify the registration mark and align either the base material or the printing apparatus accordingly. Traditionally, registration marks were aligned visually by the operator, and relied on the judgment of the operator to achieve accuracy. Other types of registration marks, such as perforations in the base material allowed the material to be aligned on pins to maintain the correct orientation. However, the human eye can only provide so much accuracy, and alignment pins are not always appropriate, depending on the type of material and its final use.

Additionally an eyespot is provided to assist with registration both by the manufacturer and by the end user. The consistency of the eyespot-to-eyespot dimension is not only of value during the printing process, but is also used to determine correct seal and cut-off dimensions for the packaging filler. Variation in either printed registration or eyespot repeatability can lead to packaging quality issues and value added product returns to the printed films manufacturer.

Using Digital Imaging to Improve Printing Quality

Today, advancements in digital imaging allow this technology to be applied to the printing process and to greatly improve the overall quality. Digital imaging can also be used to measure the distance between printed registration marks to minimize the amount of scrap that is generated.

Cimtec's Solution for Printing

Cimtec has developed a custom solution for this application specifically for the printing industry. A digital imaging system for this application consists of an optical sensor, such as a SICK high switching frequency (10 KHz) sensor, that will read the printed eyespot that is located along the edge of the material web. An SICK-Stegmann optical encoder is utilized to calculate the line speed based on the drive roll. The impression distance is then calculated by the PLC controller based on the time differential between eyespots multiplied by the line speed. The system includes a human machine interface (HMI) that has the capability to display multiple values. These values are called up individually by function keys on the controller front control panel:

  • Single impression distance measurement (F1)

  • Average impression dimension (F2-over X number of impressions as input by the operator F3)

  • Impression length tolerance value (F4-high and F5-low)

  • Impression count set point (F6)

  • Linear compensation factors (F7)

Output signals are provided when the dimensional tolerances values (F4) and (F5) are exceeded or to stop the line upon reaching the predetermined impression count (F6).

The alerts provided by this specific Cimtec solution will allow manufacturers to have a better handle on their printing operations and to maintain higher quality of the printing process. Through higher quality, manufacturers will reduce the amount of excess material as well as mis-printed material, which will in turn reduce overall production costs. Also, the improved consistency of the printing process has direct influence on maintaining a quality package during filling operations and improved end user satisfaction.