Jun. 07, 2017
TopstoriesVision

Greater Flexibility and Better Performance for Multi-View Inspections

Use the Processing Power of Multiple Smart Cameras in Parallel for High-performance Applications

  • Figure 1. Up to four Cognex smart cameras can be connected to the In-Sight VC200 multi- smart vision system controller. Overall system performance increases with each camera.Figure 1. Up to four Cognex smart cameras can be connected to the In-Sight VC200 multi- smart vision system controller. Overall system performance increases with each camera.
  • Figure 1. Up to four Cognex smart cameras can be connected to the In-Sight VC200 multi- smart vision system controller. Overall system performance increases with each camera.
  • Figure 1. Up to four Cognex smart cameras can be connected to the In-Sight VC200 multi- smart vision system controller. Overall system performance increases with each camera.
  • Figure 2. Platform-independent HMI technology allows for monitoring and controlling the application using a web-browser without needing to install special hardware or software.
  • Figure 3. Users need to coordinate and combine the results from multiple cameras.
  • Figure 4. Mobile and platform-independent viewing of the images and results from each connected camera (different operator views based on user-access levels).

The In-Sight VC200 from Cognex is a high-performance system that maintains its extremely high inspection speed however many smart cameras are connected to it. In fact, it actually gets faster with each additional camera.

Industrial applications require machine vision using multiple cameras for what are known as multi view inspections. Only in this way is it possible to inspect objects from different viewpoints following a defined, pre-specified procedure, i.e. the individual cameras are connected interdependently. For example: After camera 1 has detected and identified an object (bottle, tube, glass etc.), the system’s other multi-view cameras 2, 3 and 4 can check for particular specified critical features according to the system configuration.

Multi-view inspections are becoming more and more important in a variety of industries: in the food industry, in beverage filling, in the automotive sector and in general mechanical engineering situations, wherever continuous inspection of food, components, assemblies or packaging is required for quality assurance.

Elegant solution to challenging requirements

With complex inspections of this kind, the challenge is two-fold: users need to coordinate and combine the results from multiple cameras that are needed to perform the task; and data processing for the system as a whole often forms a bottleneck for the required rapid test sequence. Conventional multi-camera systems use “dumb” cameras attached to a controller. These dumb cameras lack their own processing power – so they share the processing power of the controller. As more cameras are added to the system performance of the system reduces, and limits multi-camera systems to simple applications where images are taken simultaneously.

Today it is also necessary for complex inspection systems to be easy to configure and modify – because efficiency and performance play a major role in production and hence in quality assurance, too. At the same time, it is important to define the options for intervention – i.e. the permissions – that individual employees are given. Previously, it was often difficult to set up multi-view inspections from scratch, make changes, or reconfigure the whole system.

And as far as user interfaces (HMIs) were concerned, the current solutions do not offer any mobile intervention options and are limited in presenting different operator views based on user-access levels.

Joerg Kuechen, Cognex Vice President and Business Unit Manager, Vision Products, sums it up neatly: “As our customers expand their use of machine vision into new areas, they are looking for ways to make standalone cameras work together to solve applications requiring multi-view inspections. The In-Sight VC200 now offers this functionality based on the In-Sight platform.”

A solution like this has never existed before

To perform Cognex multi-view inspections in a manufacturing environment, the user can connect up to four In-Sight smart cameras to the In-Sight VC200 vision controller via four gigabit Ethernet ports. Now, for the first time, it is possible to utilize the processing power of multiple smart cameras in parallel for high-performance applications. The In-Sight VC200 multi smart camera vision system by Cognex distributes the vision processing between multiple smart cameras, and so expands the range of possible multi-camera inspection applications.

Because each smart camera has its own processor adding cameras increases the overall computational power available to the system. In turn, this means that powerful Cognex vision tools can be used on each camera without adversely affecting the system as a whole, no matter how many cameras are installed in the system. The resulting improved performance helps keep pace with fast-moving production lines, and also provides the flexibility to solve applications with sequential or asynchronous inspections.

Simple configuration and efficient data handling

The In-Sight VC200 multi-camera applications are easy to set up with the powerful In-Sight VC Explorer software. The graphical workflow interface simplifies vision application setup as the inspection steps are displayed as a series of blocks that handle acquisition, image processing and communication. The workflow diagrams provide flexible control of triggering and acquisition, separates the inspection into manageable blocks and provides access to the In-Sight spreadsheet interface. Users can simply drag and drop the blocks and move them around to modify application logic. They can connect these blocks to easily exchange data between them.
Cameras are configured for their inspection tasks using the In-Sight spreadsheet interface. This spreadsheet interface provides access to proven In-Sight vision tools, including PatMax Redline, the most powerful part finding algorithm that can locate parts or features in less than 20 milliseconds in a 5-megapixel image, and OCRMax, a font-trainable OCR and OCV tool that provides high character read rates while keeping misreads to a minimum. Users therefore gain straightforward access to all functions that they are familiar with from their experience with proven Cognex vision technology.

Modern, powerful, web-based HMIs allow mobile and platform-independent viewing of the images and results from each connected camera. The customizable HMIs provide monitoring and control through password-protected access levels. With the In-Sight VC200, operators can view inspections, QA officers (for example) can modify parameters, and plant managers can review performance statistics simultaneously from any iOS, Android or Windows-based device with a web browser.
In addition, project components (block diagrams, tables, web pages, and even whole inspection sequences) can be stored for subsequent reuse in other projects. This considerably simplifies setup for new or modified multi-view inspections, and helps maintain high productivity.

In-Sight VC200 in brief

  • High-performance processing: system as a whole gets faster with each additional smart camera.
  • Multiple acquisition schemata: simple configuration for complex synchronous and asynchronous multi-camera applications.
  • Flexible workflow interface: easily link smart cameras and communicate results.
  • Powerful In-Sight tools: location of parts or features with PatMax Redline in less than 20 milliseconds.
  • Browser-based HMI: mobile, platform-independent visualization and anywhere access via a web browser without extra software.
  • Reuse project components: new projects implemented faster.

Authors

Contact

Cognex Germany Inc.
Emmy-Noether-Str. 11
76131 Karlsruhe
Germany
Phone: +49 721 958 8052

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