Vision Systems - DigitME2

-The use of cameras for measurement, detection and quality –

Over recent years the developments in the availability and use of vision technology means that camera systems, both domestic and industrial, are rapidly becoming higher in quality and lower in price. The result is that the combination of high quality images and the processing power of modern software has given many companies greater access to vision systems. DigitME is aiming to help the Northwest’s manufacturing SME’s embrace this and the starting point is the use of low cost webcams in manufacturing.

Webcams as Vision Systems

Small, discreet, cheap and with common interfaces to modern computing software the humble webcam has really come into its own. In recent years the quality of webcams have increased with off the shelf units being sold online, at supermarkets and through high street outlets with HD sensors, auto-focus, lens correction and colour balancing all being included often for well under the £100.00 mark. The result is that the images and videos collected are now suitable for simple tasks within manufacturing processes.

DigitME Example – Webcam for Measurement

Using a webcam in a manufacturing process may not seem an obvious choice. However when the system is combined with the correct software the uses become far wider reaching.

It may be that after a requirements specification an off the shelf vision system appears quite expensive, in some cases this is true and a low cost solution can be applied, though it can be easy to misjudge how complex the problem is… this is where we can help.

As an example take a measurement system, in our case the requirements of the system fall within range of a webcams capabilities. Using image processing software pixels become the equivalent of a unit of measurement, the camera counts the pixels, the pixels equate to a distance and from there we have our instant measurement system and an image that we can store for our quality records.

Measuring multiple areas and in multiple shapes, such a system can give measurement records from a very low cost system.

This technology is available for demonstration at the Advanced Digital Manufacturing Technology (ADMT) suite in Burnley.

Supporting and Developing Image Systems

Stepping up from webcams a number of development stages are available that can further enhance how image processing is used within the manufacturing environment.

SLR cameras – once often the prized possession of many a professional photographer, are now widely available and with image size reaching the 30 mega pixel mark these high quality images are excellent for further image processing whether this is for measurement systems as noted or for object detection, colour changes, fault detection or a number of variations in between.

Of course our camera systems produce images, but now with subtle software changes many cameras can be repurposed to take and store video via the software and can integrate with great fluidity into many manufacturing processes to give either live feeds of remote locations, in line quality checking practices or perhaps just piece of mind that each critical control point is being recorded.

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