Proof of concept, testing for integrated vision applications

Inside machines: A control system integrator and automation vendor have jointly developed a vision lab where they will offer machine vision testing, advice, proof-of-concept work and validation services. See advice about machine vision applications.

By Jim Sellitto, Laura Mann, Laura Studwell April 6, 2017

After integrating a large volume of complex machine vision projects, control system integrator MartinCSI partnered with Omron to create a lab offering machine vision proof-of-concept, testing, and validation services. Vision-guided capabilities extend far beyond identifying defective parts. Complex applications easily can be solved with the right mix of cameras, lighting and optics, lenses and filters, and user-friendly application development environments. 

Identify, fix inconsistencies

By collecting data from vision inspection, companies can identify and fix inconsistencies early in the production process. Vision inspection is used in virtually all manufacturing industries to boost product integrity, increase production efficiency, meet regulatory compliance, and protect a brand’s reputation.

MartinCSI, an Ohio-based industrial control system integrator, provides industrial and control data collection systems in North America, engineered for customers’ application needs. Other capabilities include motion, robotics, safety, and designing and building vision systems for challenging applications and environments. Company industrial control system design and system integration projects include those in the automotive, utilities, food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, glass and plastic, chemicals, packaging and pet care industries.

Help with machine vision

From a system integrator’s perspective:

  1. There’s benefit to providing a client with a proof of concept (PoC) in the quoting process to determine the proper lighting, cameras, lenses, and controller, which provides a more defined quote because vision equipment can vary significantly in cost.
  2. When installing a vision system for quality control, gather a complete collection of samples that range in sizes and different defects. With those samples, the integrator’s vision system can more accurately detect the defects.
  3. Install the vision system in an enclosure to help control lighting and part presentation, which will make the system more reliable. The enclosure helps eliminate changes in ambient light.

Machine vision applications

The complexity and volume of projects that required integrated vision led to the addition of Omron vision equipment to complement lab-based technologies. The engineering lab helps customers see and understand application capabilities of machine vision, identification, and sensing technologies. The vision lab has allowed customers to view pass/fail tests, barcode matching, data collection, part presence, and absence as well as inspection and measurements. A step-by-step process is used to resolve complex machine vision applications.

The vision lab, which opened in May 2015, includes smart cameras, high-speed vision systems, lenses, lighting, mounting options, and vision algorithms to help fit the technologies to various applications.

"I’ve seen the team tackle applications from the inspection of packaging for food and beverage companies to identifying spotted paint and stain variations or defects," said Scott Harvey, Omron account manager.

Those using the lab include manufacturers and distributors who conduct PoCs as needed. MartinCSI engineers also can help with quoting projects and providing PoCs, including with other vendors’ vision systems.

MartinCSI is a Control Engineering System Integrator of the Year and has received an Integrator Member of the Year from the Control System Integration Association (CSIA).

Jim Sellitto, principal and vice president of business development, and Laura Mann, marketing coordinator, are with MartinCSI; Laura Studwell is Omron’s industry marketing manager. Edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager, CFE Media, Control Engineering,


Key concepts

  • Machine vision can be used for much more than inspection.
  • System integrators can help with proof of concept, testing, and implementation. Consider this
  • Could throughput and quality increase in some applications by using a machine vision system? 

ONLINE extra 

Seven machine vision guidelines help future-proof an application

A vision system should be future-proof to withstand amendments to regulations; start with specific application knowledge. Below are guidelines for choosing the right vision system, according to Omron.

  1. Choose a partner that understands the environment, application, and regulations appropriate to the industry and market, including training, services, and one point of contact to handle future requirements, or adjustments in packaging or labeling. Choosing an incorrect partner may require additional time and expense to try to make the hardware and software fit the application.
  2. Know the application by analyzing variables that can make the difference between a successful integration and one that experiences needless downtime. Knowing application details helps with selection of an appropriate vision system. These might include types of materials or substrates on which codes and markings are printed; application speed or throughput; print quality, consistency, and readability on labels or markings; and change-over frequency.
  3. Focus on an integrated solution that fits minimum application and runtime needs, including vision hardware, software, and network communications, with synchronous control of machine network devices.
  4. Consider and confirm compatibility of the vision system with existing equipment on the packaging line or other application, such as pick-and-place robots, equipment, and processes to ensure compliance.
  5. Ensure ability to integrate data with the plant-floor control system and enterprise systems for data storage and analytics, enabling good track and trace recordkeeping practices.
  6. Invest in training to ensure all maintenance and reliability personnel have knowledge of the vision system and related software; vendor-offered training can provide detailed knowledge of the vision system and components, and will reduce downtime.
  7. Protect the machine vision system investment by ensuring correct mounting and guarding, which especially important in harsh environmental conditions, such as shock and vibration, that can disrupt functionality. 

Omron provides automation integrated automation systems including robotics, sensing, motion, logic, safety, and others. The company has more than 37,000 employees in more than 36 countries.

From Omron, also see a whitepaper: Vision is Vital for Brand Protection

Also learn more from MartinCSI, a system integrator. 

Also see the machine vision category in the Global System Integrator Database under engineering specialties. 

See the Control Engineering sensors and vision page.