Intelligent Cognex cameras help SYSTEMATIX get a vision-controlled bin selection solution

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  Cognex Smart Cameras Provide SYSTEMATIX Vision-Guided Robotic Picking Solution

6. July 2018 – Programming robots to select random parts from shipping containers or containers is still one of the most demanding automation tasks. Knowledge and complex system design

For such a project, Systems Integration System Integrator, SYSTEMATIX Inc., brought together a multidisciplinary team of Engineers collaborated to create a vision-controlled robotic (VGR) bin-picking application as part of a working cell for lumbar actuator assembly for motor vehicle seat.

The automotive customer's existing small batch production line relied on up to 4 workers to transport the full containers from a conveyor to the assembly table, retrieve each drive from the loosely placed container and remove dividers within the container to reach the next layer, before finally placing each actuator in a special nest for final assembly with a wire mat. The production of each part took about 90 seconds, mainly because of the difficulty of manipulating the sharp-edged, flexible wire mat. While acceptable for a while, higher volumes required an automated solution.

SYSTEMATIX developed a national accounts solution. With a discrete distance sensor, a Cognex In-Sight 8000 image processing system with PatMax RedLine pattern search on a vertical slide and a 6-axis robot, SYSTEMATIX built a workcell that increases customer production accuracy while reducing cycle time and machine maintenance requirements [19659003Inthecompleteworkcell7YaskawarobotswereusedtoremovetheactuatorsandwirematsfromtheirrespectivetransportcontainersplacethepartsinnestsandmakeallfinalassemblyconnectionsOneofthekeychallengesindesigningthisworkcellhasbeentoprogramarobottorandomlypickuporderedpartswithhighaccuracytoachievethenew5secondworkcycletimespersubassemblywithouthavingtoredesigntheshippingcontainersProductionSteps

The existing vessels used throughout the manufacturing facility include corrugated partitions to separate one layer of actuators from the next. While this solution makes it possible to use the same container on multiple lines throughout the plant, this also means that actuators are not secured in the containers, causing them to shift during transport. Consequently, each randomly positioned part must be located before it can be picked up by a robot. In addition, since each container has multiple layers, the vertical distance from the robot to the slice divider must be recalculated when the container is emptied.

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A typical setup using a 3D sensor – such as a low-resolution, low-speed time – a flight sensor, a laser scanning triangulation sensor, or two stereo-vision cameras – takes a long time to capture the image, to a separate computer, or Send a device for processing, perform advanced 3D analysis algorithms and communicate the results to the robot. By reducing the problem of locating 2D parts and using a photoelectric distance measurement sensor to provide information of the third dimension (height), the final solution achieved faster cycle times.

Early in the development cycle, SYSTEMATIX engineers realized that a cycle time of 5 seconds was difficult on multiple fronts. In addition to being able to locate parts in random orientation at high speed and locate dividers within shipping containers, the image processing system needed to change containers as quickly as possible. The strategy to get around this was to take a piece out of the bin behind the typical hopper. This allowed the empty container more time to extend and the new container to advance, while still meeting the requirements of the main line to have a new part for the assembly every 5 seconds.

To reduce the complexity of the image processing program SYSTEMATIX engineers combined an IFM Efector 200 photoelectric distance sensor and a Cognex In-Sight 8000 Smart camera mounted on an IAI servo-driven slide. The photoelectric sensor measures the vertical distance to the bin divider. Once this distance is calculated, the slide moves up or down to maintain a fixed distance between the camera and the splitter surface. This action makes it unnecessary to calculate the scale of the image that the 2D camera sees when the container layers are empty and the parts are farther away.

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The Cognex In-Sight 8000 camera was selected for its position for positioning and robot guidance as an intelligent camera solution that includes image capture, image processing software and network communication. In addition, the image processing system comes standard with the Cognex PatMax RedLine Pattern Search algorithm.

The first step in any Machine Vision application – and the one that normally decides whether the application succeeds or fails – involves locating the object in the vision field of view of the camera. This process is called pattern recognition. Pattern recognition can be challenging because many variables can change the appearance of an object for an image processing system. To overcome these limitations, Cognex developed a pattern recognition technology called PatMax. This technology learns the geometry of an object using a series of boundary lines bound to a pixel grid, and then looks for similar shapes in the image without relying on certain levels of gray. The result is a revolutionary improvement in the ability to find objects accurately, despite changes in angle, size, and shading. The latest PatMax iteration RedLine reduces the time it takes to find a shape, feature or part in a crowded image.

With PatMax, the In-Sight 8000 camera processes a partial image in the bin-picking application and compares it to a reference image to determine the orientation of each part for the robot. Camera images, measured in pixels, are translated to robotic pick coordinates in millimeters, and Cognex Connect software enables direct communication of coordinates from one industrial device to another without intermediate processing.

"With Cognex InSight we can quickly deploy systems Our customers can understand and maintain them," says Steve Regier, Vision & Controls Engineer at SYTEMATIX. "Cognex In-Sight, as a provider of automated equipment, provides us with the power and flexibility to handle the changes in scale and functional requirements that can arise when designing a custom machine."

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Through Intelligent Integration and Intelligent Camera Solutions Like the In-Sight 8000 image processing algorithms such as PatMax, SYSTEMATIX has been able to achieve new levels of automation and speed for one of its largest automotive customers.

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