What is Metrology Part 9: Machine Vision

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In this metrology series we have focused a lot on companies as well as technology they are creating in terms of metrology. I would like to take a different approach to a couple of the next articles. I would like to look into certain topics that are of interest to me within this field. The technology used in this field is high tech and very important to keep in mind when thinking about the future developments of the industry. Machine vision is definitely one of these types of technologies that will be vital for the industry and its future development. In this article I will be defining machine vision and taking a look into how it integrates well with metrology. 

Machine Vision

Machine vision is the technology and methods used to provide imaging-based automatic inspection and analysis for applications such as automatic inspection, process control, and robot guidance, usually in industry. Machine vision is a term encompassing a large number of technologies, software and hardware products, integrated systems, actions, methods and expertise. Machine vision as a systems engineering discipline can be considered distinct from computer vision, a form of computer science. It attempts to integrate existing technologies in new ways and apply them to solve real world problems. The term is the prevalent one for these functions in industrial automation environments but is also used for these functions in other environments such as security and vehicle guidance. 

As mentioned this term is distinct from a common term people have known as computer vision. Machine vision refers to the larger scale expertise of imaging hardware, software, and other products that integrate together. A machine is telling a user what is there and there needs to be nothing more additional within this process. Computer vision is typically trying to optimize an image and the data that it represents. Computer vision is an interdisciplinary scientific field that deals with how computers can be made to gain high-level understanding from digital images or videos. From the perspective of engineering, it seeks to automate tasks that the human visual system can do. In a different article we will explore computer vision more thoroughly.

With machine vision being such a vast field here are some initial applications of it:

  • Predictive Maintenance 
  • Packaging Inspection
  • Product and Component Assembly
  • Defect Reduction
  • 3D Vision Inspection

IOT and Predictive Maintenance

Predictive maintenance (PdM) refers to the watching and surveillance of performance and the condition of equipment. This helps to reduce the number of failures in a manufacturing process. Predictive maintenance techniques are created to estimate when maintenance should be performed. Tasks are only done as needed.  The main idea of predictive maintenance is to allow convenient scheduling of corrective maintenance, and to prevent unexpected equipment failures. Machine vision is vital in this sense as it allows a user to have autonomous views on machine processes and to see if they are failing. 

Packaging inspection refers to when machine vision systems are used to see the overall contents of what is within a standard package and if there are components within the inside of a package that should not be there. This allows a company or person to toss or ride of defective packages before they are sent off to mass distribution channels. 

The ability to read a barcode is also a machine vision process. Interpreting the image on a product in terms of a barcode allows for a product to have the ability to be specified in terms of its production number. Also, this can allow for a product to have a track record or data attached to its production. 

Product and component assembly are essential when it comes to using machine vision. In order to automate the processes of production, one must have repeatability. Machine vision systems allow individuals to see what may be going wrong in component and product assembly.  This then leads to the overall improvement of product. This means fewer defects are implemented within a system. 

3D Image Inspection

3D Vision reads characters in highly reflective environments such as medical device components. Robotic guidance is a large part of 3D vision inspection. 3D vision enables an application to locate a point of interest and establish an object’s 3D position with respect to an absolute coordinate system using multiple views.

The different applications within machine vision integrate quite well with metrology as a whole. Accuracy is of utmost importance to this field as we know. This type of technology allows for the automation of a variety of items and processes within metrology. All in all the technical integration of this into the sphere of metrology is still being explored and there  is more of it to come.

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