The European systems integrator Sistemas Automatizacion Procesos SL (S.A.P.-Barcelona, Spain) manufactures customized, turnkey automated assembly machines for a variety of customers, including those in the automotive industry.
Recently, the company landed a contract to manufacture an assembly and inspection cell to process structural subassemblies for a new van assembly line.
The tube-shaped subassemblies feature 70 discrete inspection points, including a number of welded nuts, screws and holes. The machine had to be robust enough to function in an environment that was not only dusty and oily, but subject to dramatic changes in ambient lighting. The parts themselves also have a tendency to become oily or dirty during processing.
The resulting system included a vision-guided robot employing an In-Sight 5100 machine-vision camera from Cognex Corp. (Natick, MA) attached to the end of its arm. In operation, the inspection camera determines the position of each inspection point and then transmits this information to the robot, which adjusts its movements accordingly. In essence, the robot “learns” the route it needs to follow when processing each subassembly by using the In-Sight camera as its “eyes.”
Critical to the success of the system is the camera’s proprietary Patmax software. Unique to the In-Sight product line, the software includes powerful part-localization algorithms, which allow it to quickly identify the components’ many inspection points and then transmit this information to the robot controller via a PC interface.
The result has been a 20 percent reduction in processing times for the operation. The workstation has also been made safer and more reliable than in the past when it relied on purely mechanical technologies.
By weeding out any faulty assemblies or installations, the new system also cuts down on the amount of rework that has to be performed and reduces the threat of costly product recalls.
For more on machine vision and inspection, call 508-650-3000 or visit www.cognex.com.