How Much Does it Cost to Integrate Vision Systems?

August 2020

How Much Does It Cost to Integrate Vision Systems into Automated Machines?

SP Automation and Robotics, has been using vision systems on their machines for around 25 years, with the first systems used being of a highly bespoke nature designed and built for a single purpose. These systems required a full-blown (in its day) a high spec PC, which in today’s working environment would probably struggle to operate or support a single Microsoft office application. Over the years, the company has installed hundreds of cameras in their machines, for application such as surface inspection, measurement, colour detection and variation, and even down to detection blood spots in fish products. Some applications have also required mounting cameras on the ends of robots, to provide a very flexible inspection system, that could be used on complexed shaped component’s or devices.

 

Around the world, there are literally hundreds of thousands of applications where products require a high level of quality inspection to ensure manufacturers maintain a high level of quality control ensuring the end result being quality products. Utilising automated machine vision inspections as opposed to human vision inspections gives the advantage of creating a consistent and reliable method, and in some cases, 24 hours a day, every day.

 

 

The question of How Much Does It Cost To Integrate Vision Systems Into Automated Machines cannot be answered simply with one statement. Machine vision technology is a complex area with a myriad of solutions depending on the application.

 

To ensure you purchase the correct vision system and most cost-effective solution for your application, it is important that you define your requirements, through a user requirement specification (URS). This will allow you to consider exactly what you require the vision system to do. Wrongly specifying machine vision inspection systems, can be costly, by either over-specifying (having too much functionality) or under-specifying (not enough functionality). Most machine vision solutions will require input from the OEM, with companies such as Cognex, Keyence, Omron and Wenglor all offering a very large range of solutions. As an example, a quick overview of Cognex ranges of cameras and vision sensors show that regardless of your application, there is likely to be a solution for, but again this where the importance of specifying really matters.

The costs between vision solutions can be enormous and can range from simple vision sensors costing £200, to high-end high pixel count cameras costing £1000’s. Again, it all depends on the application.

As we can see from the product link below from Cognex, there are three main categories of vision inspection, each with their own unique set of features.

As you can see, if you limit your requirements for what you need at the moment, then it may be possible to utilise the lower-cost end of the spectrum using vision sensors. Like everything else, once you begin to add features or have more requirements, the cost and complexity of the systems will increase.

This does not mean that each of these three vision solutions only has one camera per category; there are indeed multiple cameras within each category, again with each having its own unique advantages. As we move up the levels of complexity, we also find that most features from the lower models are included, with the addition of the more complex features for the higher-spec cameras. If your application or manufacturing process requires more than one type of inspection, i.e. reading a QR code, then carrying out surface defect inspection, then moving from a vision sensor to a 2D vision inspection system could be considered.

 

 

How Important is Lighting when Integrating Vision Systems?

Machine vision systems lighting is almost as important to the application as is the camera itself. If we put this into basic context, a human inspection system will require good constant lighting and perhaps magnifying glass equipment to allow the operative to inspect effectively. This requirement is no different in a machine vision application when selecting the correct lighting as well as the camera lens. With the advancement in LED light technology, camera lighting is becoming even more complex, allowing machine technology to advance faster than ever before.

Many of today’s manufacturers require high-speed inspection systems within their production lines to provide 24-hour quality control of their products and production, and this level can only be achieved through the use of machine vision technology. With the advantages that machine vision brings, such as near 100% accuracy, higher throughputs, lower rejects, the return on investment can be made very quickly, making this attractive to both the machine builder and the end-user.

 

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