Protecting machine vision systems in rugged, harsh environments

Machine vision enclosures are built to protect the vision system, but every application poses different environmental hazards, which makes it extremely important to find the right solution.

By AIA August 23, 2017

Machine vision systems are complex and expensive, yet more often than not they’re exposed to harsh industrial environments. Protecting your vision system and the integrity of the results it produces, or protecting your investment in automation, is a fundamental aspect of successful automated vision applications. Machine vision enclosures are built to protect the vision system, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. Every application poses different environmental hazards, and it’s vitally important to find the right solution.

How the industrial environments affects a machine vision enclosure

Given the ubiquity of automated vision solutions, there are many different types of environments a machine vision system may be subjected to. Thermal cameras are often used in the monitoring of crucial assets, for example in the steel industry to monitor cooling processes, and are exposed to heat and explosions. Extremely durable machine vision enclosures have to be integrated to help withstand high temperatures and explosions.

On the other hand, some industrial applications, such as glass inspection in Alaska, are below a vision system’s minimum operating temperature, and a machine vision enclosure must specialize in heating the vision system to a proper operating temperature.

The food and beverage industry, while not highly dangerous, is often exposed to high-temperature washing with harsh chemicals. A machine vision enclosure in this instance must be built to withstand corrosion and high temperatures.

Machine vision enclosure integration

Integrating a machine vision enclosure is a complicated, highly technical process. For example, in the food and beverage industry, enclosures are typically made of type 316 stainless steel. This is because machine vision enclosures in this industry need a proper Ingress Protection (IP) rating for IP65, IP66, and IP66K ratings.

However, in the food and beverage industry are also choosing IP69K ratings, which specifies a spray nozzle dispensing 176°F water at 1160 to 1450 psi at a flow rate of 4 gallons per minute (gpm), where the nozzle is placed 4 to 6-in. from the device and is rotated every 12 seconds.

The integration of machine vision enclosures requires precise specifications and technical expertise. It’s much more involved than simply putting an enclosure around a camera system.

Machine vision enclosures are a fundamental part of automated vision systems. If the company’s vision system is unprotected, so is the quality of the data they receive, and so is the company’s automation investment.

This article originally appeared on the AIA website. The AIA is a part of the Association for Advancing Automation (A3). A3 is a CFE Media content partner. Edited by Chris Vavra, production editor, Control Engineering,

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