Lasers, scanners, fingerprint readers, and face recognition is not just science fiction anymore. I love seeing technology only previously imagined become reality through necessity and advances in technology. We, as a world economy, need to be able to verify who we are and ensure transitions are safe, and material and goods are tracked accurately. With this need came the evolution of laser barcode readers, fingerprint identification devices, and face ID on your phone. Similar needs have pushed archaic devices to be replaced within factory automation for data collection.
When I began my career in control engineering the 1990s high tech tools were limited to PLCs, frequency drives, and HMIs. The quality inspection data these devices relied on was collected mostly through limit switches and proximity sensors. Machine vision was still in it’s expensive and “cute” stage. With the need for more information, seriously accurate measurement, machining specs, and speed; machine vision has evolved, just like our personal technology has, to fill the needs of the modern time.
Machine vision has worked its way into the automation world as a need to have rather than a nice to have. With the ability to stack several tools and validations on top of each other, within a fraction of a second scan we now have the data our era needs to stay competitive. Imagine an application requiring you to detect several material traits, measure the part, read a barcode for tracking, and validate a properly printed logo screened onto the finished product. Sure, you could use several individual laser sensors, barcode readers and possibly even a vision sensor all working in concert to achieve your goal. Or you could use a machine vision system to do all the above easily with room to grow.
I say all of this because there is still resistance in the market to move to machine vision due to historical high costs and complexity. Machine Vision is here to stay and ready for your applications today. Think of it this way. How capable would you think a business is they took out a carbon copy credit card machine to run a payment for you? Well, think of this before you start trying to solve applications with several sensors. Take advantage of the technology at your fingertips; don’t hold on to nostalgia.