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Auto manufacture drives up machine vision performance

02 May 2014

Vision 2014 to showcase inspection of car parts, assembly – and much more.

The now bi-annual VISION 2014 show, which this year is to run from 4 to 6 November in Stuttgart, Germany, will reflect the importance of the auto industry in the development of machine vision (MV) technologies and applications. This autumn around 400 exhibitors will showcase the latest trends in cameras, framegrabbers, lighting systems, optics, software and applications of MV.

Florian Niethammer, the event’s Project Manager at Messe Stuttgart, told a recent conference of vision industry figures in the city, “The range of applications of MV systems is constantly growing, as are our visitor target groups. With the event’s new two-year frequency, we believe VISION 2014 will become even more comprehensive and attractive than before.

“Besides the automotive industry, the target groups of VISION include the spectrum of mechanical and precision engineering, optics and electronics industries, semiconductor production, printing, glass and wood processing, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and food. Many non-industrial sectors also benefit from MV applications such as medical devices, traffic management, security systems, agriculture and sport.”

Jean-Philippe Roman, Corporate Marketing Manager at Allied Vision Technologies, Stadtroda, Germany, commented, “Full inspection and traceability of parts is extremely important. The automotive industry and suppliers have always been a key application area for MV and this trend is still growing. Because vehicle components have the potential to endanger human life, if they are faulty, random inspection is not enough. Full inspection has to be carried out and traceability guaranteed.”

Heinz Haaf, Key Account Manager for Automotive at Stemmer Imaging, Puchheim near Munich, Germany, said that a distinction must be made between two areas when using MV systems in the automotive industry: the production and the R&D environments. “Firstly, we need to focus on the production area, for which MV systems must be robust and safe, as well as easy to operate and repair. Therefore compact smart systems are often used here. Then in R&D, more high-end MV systems are often used to check the quality of pre-series parts or to test new production methods.”

Michael Noffz, Marketing Manager at Silicon Software, Mannheim, Germany, told the forum, “There is also the end product to consider; so-called convenience systems in a finished car, in which visual functions are also becoming more important, such as in parking assistants and rear and side observation systems."

Up to now the automotive industry has always played a pioneering role when it comes to implementing the latest innovations in the manufacturing process, also those of the MV industry. Niethammer says that some exhibitors at VISION 2014 will be demonstrating of what MV can achieve today in automated vehicle production and will show that it contributes to more efficient and economical production processes and enhanced quality.

Painting by numbers

Searching for flaws in new paintwork can become fully automated for the first time.
 Nicole Rüffer, marketing manager at ISRA Vision, Darmstadt, Germany, explained, "Searching for errors on painted surfaces of vehicles to date has often delivered unsatisfactory results."

Historically, at the end of a highly automated bodywork painting process on a production line, experienced employees would assess certain segments of the body. "Although they have years of experience and trained eyes, such tests are subjective and the results are not consistent."

Isra Vision has developed an elaborate camera system with corresponding evaluation logic called Car Paint Vision. During the inspection the car body is passed through a workstation with four robots and the corresponding MV test systems, which scan the surface in a single process. The high-resolution cameras detect all relevant topological and high-contrast color defects.

Dust particles, scratches, pinpricks, drops, paint runs, and orange-peel effect are reliably located and their coordinates are stored. "Surface defects are now completely identifiable and can be found based on their company-specific definitions", said Rüffer "Now the staff can concentrate on eliminating the fault instead of performing the tedious visual inspection."

Give me a brake!

Brakes may be considered the most important component of a vehicle. Now Stemmer Imaging, another significant VISION exhibitor ever since the start of the show 27 years ago, has developed an MV system dedicated to observing the low-volume production range at brake manufacturer Knorr-Bremse, where brake systems are built for commercial vehicles.

This system integrates three cameras systems from Allied Vision Technologies with Schneider optics, as well as two line lasers from Z-Laser, together with the machine vision software Sherlock from Teledyne Dalsa, are used. Within milliseconds the software calculates whether the disc brake is assembled according to the parts list and the assembly specifications, for which zero error tolerance is the manufacturer’s main priority. K-B manufactures a large variety of brake systems in this production line, for buses as well as for heavy articulated lorries, a total of 1,200 brake variants in combination with 64 different inspection characteristics.

About the Author

Matthew Peach is a contributing editor to optics.org.

FISBASchaefter und Kirchhoff GmbHSpectrum Scientific Inc. -  SSI OpticsPhotonTec Berlin GmbHEdmund OpticsBristol Instruments, Inc.Omicron-Laserage Laserprodukte GmbH
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