Machine vision: Italian integrator gives robots vision and gains precision
Automatically recognizing and identifying objects with precision is a critical element in production systems. A systems integrator born initially as a strategic partner of ABB Italy is now one of the most important integrators of automated robotic production systems. Evolut billed more than 12.5 million euros in 2006, saw a 10% increase in sales over the previous year, and this year can boast of having installed more than 1,100 robotic systems—many of which employ machine vision to find and identify parts. Here’s a look at Evolut’s recipe for success.
A typical robotics application where vision is used is when the arm of a robot recognizes an item, picks it and positions it at any given moment on an assembly line. For this, Evolut deploys their vision guided robotic system, Hawk—a system based on VisionPro and PatMax technology from Cognex. Using Cognex image acquisition cards, VisionPro can manage up to 10 cameras and reduce the time of image acquisition. With PatMax, a Hawk system is capable of identifying and finding a diverse range of objects. pproximately 50% of Evolut’s installations benefit from this technology, which provides a wide range of advantages.
In a typical application for Evolut, a robot relies on VisionPro and PatMax software to obtain enough precise information on the position of a piece so that any surplus material on a joint, for example, can be located, measured exactly and removed. The camera acquires the image, position and orientation of the part or object and communicates this to the robot, which is then able to pick it up. The robot receives data in order, and as such is able to follow the handling of pieces no matter how they are oriented.
Due to its ability to adapt to the specific production environment, PatMax can simplify the planning and construction of a robotic station. For example, since the system can easily measure the objects no matter how they are placed, costly mechanical feeders or pallet systems are no longer necessary. The positioning of optical machinery and video cameras also is simplified, because PatMax can adapt itself to the varying orientation, dimension or aspects of its environment. With PatMax it is also possible to eliminate the need to re-program or adjust the original setup if the systems are moved to another part of the production line.
A video shows how the PatMax geometric pattern matching tool finds pads that are partially outside the camera’s view. This mode is called Scene Alignment, where partially visible pads are located, verified, and scored as if they were completely visible.
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Evolut CEO Franco Codini says he also uses ABB’s RobotStudio to optimize the resources dedicated to their robot systems.