Vision sensors are powerful Poka-Yoke tools ideal for error proofing your process. However, traditional sensors still solve more applications at a much lower cost. So, how do you decide when to jump up to a vision sensor? There are three application categories that require the use of a vision sensor, which include:
Parts are not well fixtured: If the part is not contained in a fixture, or there is no opportunity to bring the part into an inspection station that has better tolerance, then a vision system is the best choice. Example: parts directly on moving conveyor belt.
When we talk to people about applications for continuous linear position sensors, we often point out the advantages that can be realized by “upgrading” a machine and/or a process by incorporating continuous position feedback. In this post, I’d like to offer up a case in point. This “Application Spotlight” showcases the real and tangible advantages that can be realized by using continuous linear position sensors, such as:
• Improving machine/process efficiency
• Reducing set-up and changeover time
• Reducing planned downtime
• Error-proofing the process
So, you see, we’re not just making this stuff up! Download this case study here.
Picture this scenario. You, your spouse, or one of your kids happens to be riding one night in the middle of nowhere when a tire blows on the car. First, we can only hope that your loved one remembered the lesson they received on how to change a flat tire in a pinch (if we gave it to them in the first place), because on this particular night, there’s no cell coverage where they’re at, AAA isn’t going to get to them very quickly, there isn’t a can of Flat Fix in the trunk, and there isn’t much traffic on the road they’re traveling on for a good Samaritan to likely show up any time soon (the scenario is extreme, but not impossible). The jack kit sitting under the spare tire is going to seem pretty doggoned important, don’t you think?
We take a lot for granted these days and for those of us who have been involved in the world of factory automation for many years, getting to work with customers to help solve Error-Proofing challenges on the plant floor is like one big “Class Trip” every single day! It’s kind of like providing our customers with “toys for adults”. And it’s a real hoot. We get to see how stuff is made, get the opportunity to help manufacturers build better products through our Error-Proofing sensing technologies and learn over time which end products to buy and which ones to shy away from! We also quickly realize the extreme importance of the DETAIL! Like the components in the emergency jack kit! What if the main handle was missing when you or your relative went to jack up the car? What if there wasn’t any grease on the main lift shaft threads and the car couldn’t be raised? What if other parts were missing from the kit? Not a good scenario.
Balluff has the opportunity to share some of the company’s proven Error-Proofing Techniques in a Seminar at Fabtech on November 14, 2011 in McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois. The session is segmented into two areas:
Automated/Robotic Weld Cell Process Improvement. We continue to see a great deal of need in this arena. When the economy tanked in 2007/2008, many companies inside and outside of the Automotive Industry were on the edge and many good, talented people were let go. In some cases, the people whose jobs were eliminated had many years of experience in maintenance and in manufacturing engineering. When volumes of work came back, so did the problems associated with weld cell nesting, Poka-Yoke, clamp sensing because of loading impact, weld debris hostility and other issues related to peripheral sensing devices in weld cells; in many cases, without the experienced personnel to reduce time in consumption used to address a wide range of problems. In this session, we will discuss and provide examples of proven techniques aimed squarely at these productivity and time-wasting problems that will return significant ROI for many customers.
Error proofing your manufacturing processes can be as easy as 1, 2, 3. You should be able to freely deploy error proofing in all appropriate locations in your plants without concerns regarding costs and long-term support or stability. It all starts by first identifying your trouble spots, then implementing a detection method, and finally establishing a process to handle the discrepancy. Let’s discuss the detection methods using sensors, as well as the process, for handling discrepancies.
By utilizing sensors as opposed to vision systems or other passive approaches, the cost of implementation and maintenance is reduced. With the new generation of low-cost lasers, sensors are now more affordable and easier to implement. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) brings new opportunities for handling non-conforming products. By tagging the individual part, assembly, or lot, products can be directed to the appropriate rework or scrap area.
These methods will allow you to implement more error proofing in your manufacturing lines to save thousand of dollars in scrap or rework and avoid the potential for costly containment.
I am experiencing the future of tradeshows; a networking & educational conference without the travel, the expense, and the suit! I can sit at my desk and make contact with future vendors and customers. The online database GlobalSpec hosts multiple times per year industry specific virtual tradeshow events. There are presentations and exhibitors. A place to sit and drink virtual coffee with your peers and of course the token giveaway raffles.
Today I am working the Balluff booth in the Sensors and Switches Virtual show. It is a collection of companies and attendees from many different industries. I really enjoy these events because we can contact quickly with potential customers and potential vendors right from the comfort of our conference room and at a much reduced cost. Here you can see our hard working staff chatting with customers.
In parts one and two of this blog series, I described the typical packaging process, how actual runtime is defined, how vision is used to improve runtime, and how vision compares to the use of discrete sensors. In this last installment of this series, I will show some specific examples of how vision sensors have been used in packaging and show two case studies exemplifying the benefits customers achieved with the use of vision in their processes.
In part one of this blog series, I described the basic definition of the typical packaging process and how many processes runtime actually get broken down and defined. In this second part of vision sensors in packaging, I will specifically describe how vision is used to reduce planned and unplanned downtime and compare discrete versus the use of vision to achieve the same goals of error proofing a process and runtime improvement.
One of the things I am often asked about is “why use machine vision in packaging”? There are many reasons, including dealing with the perceived complexity of serviceability and cost. I will show you where the use of vision in packaging can significantly decrease a major cost factor called “planned downtime”, along with other benefits in this 3 part blog series – so stay tuned for my later posts.