Automation roadmap: when should you start with vision?

Are you considering automation, but you're not sure if you're ready for robots with eyes? Let's have a look at the automation possibilities and find out which is the right way to go for your projects.

1. Hard automation

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The big advantage of hard automation is high throughput... Whereas the main disadvantage is a lack of flexibility.

Here's a few statements you might relate to:

If you're working with manual loading and fixtures

  • Designing a fixture (trays/jigs) for my parts is costly
  • I have different parts - and therefore, I need many custom fixtures
  • Part presentation or machine loading take a lot of my operator's working time

If you're working with bowl feeders

  • Our parts don't fit the bowl feeder.
  • I have space limitations and bowl feeders are bulky.
  • Time to market is crucial, and I can't wait for the delivery of custom-engineered solutions

Does any of this sound familiar? Then you should consider moving forward with vision.

2. 2D vision

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The big advantage of 2D vision is its cost-effectiveness.. Whereas the main disadvantage is a lack of flexibility and not having the ability to handle complex processes.

2D vision is a cost-effective solution if your parts are a) flat, b) non-touching and c) lying on a conveyor belt or table. However, 2D is not a good fit if a) your parts aren’t flat, b) there’s a lack of contrast between your parts and the table/conveyor belt, c) the influence of outside lighting creates shadows. These elements will confuse the camera.

Time to check out other options!

3. 3D vision

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The big advantage of 3D vision is its flexibility:

  • It solves applications with overlapping and glossy parts which vary in shape and size
  • You can teach the system to detect and handle a whole variety of objects
  • You can achieve fast changeovers: when you're done with a part, just remove the empty bin and place a new bin with the next product
  • Modern 3D vision systems have a small footprint and are compatible with all major robot brands

On the other hand, 3D vision can have some inconveniences as well: slower cycle times and gripper limitations are a reality.

It's important to weigh out the pros and cons of all automation options when making your decision - email us if we can guide you through this process.

This post is an excerpt from our guide to bin picking in the automotive industry.
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