In today’s highly flexible manufacturing industry, automation is the key to success. The smarter the robot, the better. One great way to add intelligence to a robot is to use machine vision. Giving the robot “eyes” provides many advantages, including:
- Less fixtures help reduce costs.
- Increased efficiency for part changeover.
- Minimal system rework needed to introduce new products.
- Ability to do error proofing during the manufacturing process.
There are many ways to add machine vision to a robotic system. There are standalone vision companies that have products that can communicate to the robot. There are robot manufacturers that partner with different vision companies to offer some solutions. Then, there’s FANUC, a company that has developed an entire suite of fully integrated 2D- and 3D-vision solutions under the nameplate of iRVision®.
For many robotic work cells, the robots are the focal point of the system. It makes sense that the robot can reliably make its own decisions. Integrated machine vision allows the robot to decide for itself which part to interact with and where that part is located.
When it comes to a successful automated manufacturing operation, reliability is one of the keys. When it comes to robot vision, FANUC’s iRVision solutions offer the same world class reliability as its entire line of robots, CNCs and ROBOMACHINEs. Just like the rest of FANUC’s product line, FANUC stands behind their vision products for the life of the robot.
With an integrated vision solution there is no PC or smart camera required. All of the vision algorithms run on the same robot controller CPU that controls the rest of the robot, such as motion and logic. There is no worry about the reliability of a PC that is critical to production. The camera, 2D or 3D, plugs directly into the robot’s main CPU. The FANUC supplied camera and robot controller are connected by FANUC supplied cables.
Another requirement for a successful automated work cell is support. Every system, even the most reliable, has the potential to go down. With quality support, the impact downtime has on production can be minimized. A system with machine vision is no exception and may need support from time to time. If a vision-guided robot is not interacting properly with a work piece, it’s important to determine if it’s the robot or the vision system that needs attention. Would you call the robot manufacturer or the vision system supplier? Would it take support from both to solve the problem? With FANUC’s iRVision, the vision system is part of the robot, so there is only one place to go for support. FANUC’s 24-hour customer support applies to the robot and all of its components, including the vision portion. Other vision suppliers may not have the infrastructure to provide around-the-clock support. FANUC’s Service First concept to support the robot for life includes the vision system.
Using advanced motion algorithms
Nobody knows how to control a robot better than the robot manufacturer, and FANUC is no exception. iRVision can use all of FANUC’s advanced motion algorithms. The automatic calibration, snap on the fly, robot or fixed-mount camera support, through arm vision cables, are some advantages that integrated vision has over third-party vision. Another advantage is the vision setup and runtime display directly on the teach pendant. The ability to see what the vision system is seeing without requiring another mechanism for display is huge on a production floor. With integrated vision, you use the same teach pendant to interact with the robot and the integrated vision.
Integrating two pieces of equipment from two different sources is often a challenge. By selecting an integrated vision solution, there is no need to get two different pieces of equipment talking. With iRVision, since the camera is plugged directly into the camera port, there is nothing to do to get the vision system talking to the robot.
FANUC is able to leverage its expertise in many different applications and develop a vision solution for each. For over 40 years, FANUC has developed vision solutions to meet a wide range of applications, such as:
• 2D Single View: One image finding the location of a part in 2D.
• 2D Multi View: Multiple images together to find the location of a part in 2D.
• 3D Single View: One 3D camera finding the position of a part in 3D.
• 3D Multi View: Multiple 2D or 3D images together to find the location of a part in 3D.
• Depalletizing: One image finding a part in 2D at varying heights.
• Bin Picking: Finding a part in 3D and guiding the robot to pick it while avoiding obstacles like the bin walls.
• Visual Tracking: Finding the location of a part on a moving conveyor for a robot or multiple robots to pick while the part moves on the conveyor.
• Inspection: Inspecting the part to make sure it is not a reject. Simple inspection to find flaws or defects or error proofing to find more general failures.
Many applications can benefit from the flexibility that a robot-mounted camera provides. For instance, a robot-mounted camera means the robot can position the camera anywhere in the work cell. A single robot-mounted camera can take the place of multiple fixed cameras. Whether it is 2D, 3D, or inspection, a robot-mounted camera is a great option when using machine vision in a robotic system. Part of the key to success of a robot-mounted camera system is for the vision system to know where the robot is each time it snaps a picture. With an integrated vision system like iRVision, since the vision system is part of the robot, it always automatically knows the robot’s location when it snaps. During calibration, the camera location on the robot is automatically determined; since the robot knows its own position at all times, it also always knows the position of the camera.
Machine vision is part of the solution for many robotic applications. Selecting an integrated vision solution provided by the robot manufacturer can save time and money during setup as well as increase reliability during production and increase the efficiency of part changeover.
Discover what’s possible with FANUC Automation at IMTS 2022
Being the world leader in automation and robotics, FANUC is committed to providing solutions that help its customers achieve their goals. Whether you are a small shop or a large assembly operation, FANUC has CNCs, robots, cobots, and ROBOMACHINEs to meet your needs. At IMTS, be sure to visit FANUC’s Booth #338919 and its Student Summit Booths #215500 and #215124 to see a massive display of automation solutions.