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5 Machine Vision Leaders Keeping Their Focus on Cost, Capabilities

Credit: Deposit Photos

July 11, 2018      

With all of the attention being given to the use of images in industrial settings, particularly in areas such as planning, manufacturing, and quality control, the use of machine vision systems, also known as industrial image processing, continues to be in high demand.

The global market for machine vision systems will grow from $7.91 billion in 2017 to $12.29 billion by 2023, experiencing a 7.61% compound annual growth rate, according to Research and Markets. The analyst firm attributes this growth to demand for automation in smart factories, connected technologies in the Internet of Things, and the development of artificial intelligence.

Similarly, Grand View Research Inc. last year predicted a CAGR of 8.5% between 2017 and 2025, growing from $9.1 billion in 2016 to $19.22 billion in 2025. Stratistics Market Research Consulting predicts a CAGR of 8.9% from 2015 to $14.72 billion by 2022. Such estimates show the progress of Industry 4.0 initiatives.

The latest machine vision systems collect multiple types of data at a lower price point than recent predecessors. Here are five leading providers and the technologies they offer.

Basler’s cameras serve multiple applications

Basler AG develops and manufactures area-scan, line-scan, and network cameras for a variety of industrial applications. They include automotive, factory automation, logistics and supply chain management, medical and life sciences, retail, robotics, and security.

Specifically in robotics, Basler’s ace, dart, and time-of-flight (ToF) cameras are useful for pick-and-place operations. ToF is a machine vision technique for affordable 3D vision.

The Ahrensburg, Germany-based company has been in business for 30 years. In 2017, it earned $180 million in revenue.

Basler today announced that it is entering into a joint venture with Beijing Sanbao Xingye (MVLZ) Image Technology Co., its distribution partner in China. The companies are establishing Basler Vision Technology China, with offices in Beijing, Shenzhen, and Shanghai.

Cognex cameras enable cobots

Cognex Corp. produces machine vision and industrial barcode readers, as well as other vision systems, software, sensors, and industrial ID readers for factory automation. The Natick, Mass.-based company made $748 million in revenue last year.

Cognex’s products include software monitoring tools, tag readers, and a library of advanced 2D and 3D vision tools. They are used for measurement, parts inspection, guiding assembly robots, reading IDs, and real-time monitoring.

The company also offers high-speed image acquisition and processing, and it says that more than 1 billion products a day are inspected and tracked by its solutions. Cognex’s cameras are found in collaborative robots, or cobots, such as Rethink Robotics’ Sawyer.

Some of the main capabilities of Cognex’s products include increasing throughput by eliminating nonconforming parts, improving quality by verifying all parameters of an item, and tracking products to ensure items are where they need to be in the assembly or manufacturing process.

Keyence shares in robotics success

Osaka, Japan-based Keyence Corp. manufactures industrial automation and inspection equipment, including machine vision technology, with a wide variety of cameras, lighting, and controllers to match various inspection requirements. The company’s revenues have grown rapidly thanks to robotics demand, totaling $3.68 billion in 2017.

Keyence also produces laser markers, measuring systems, and sensors. Its products provide automated inspections in industries including automotive, food, medical, packaging, and semiconductor, and its vision systems can be used to inspect for part presence, flaws, and character recognition.

The company’s Vision Database offers long-term storage and analysis of inspection data linked directly to machine vision images. The system allows comparison of expected data with actual images captured at the time of inspection.

Keyence also sells a new Multi Spectrum Machine Vision System.


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Omron works to make scanning simple

Omron Corp. is an electronics manufacturer in Kyoto, Japan. In addition to industrial automation, its portfolio includes cameras and software for inspection and measurement. Omron’s revenue was $7.067 billion last year.

The company’s equipment can capture high-sensitivity and high-resolution images. It also produces sensing and control technologies that include fiber, photoelectric, displacement, proximity, ultrasonic, pressure, and contact sensors, as well as code readers and rotary encoders to evaluate products.

Omron acquired Microscan Systems Inc. in 2017, and Omron Microscan is an industry leader in machine vision, auto ID, and verification. Omron Automation won a 2018 Innovators Award from Vision Systems Design because of its MicroHAWK MV family of cameras, which it said put “near-PC processing speeds into a single smart camera.”

Teledyne DALSA takes machine vision to space

Much of the core business of Teledyne Technologies International Corp. includes X-ray imaging and machine vision capabilities, including high-resolution line scanners. The Thousand Oaks, Calif.-based company had revenues of $2.6 billion last year.

The company’s DALSA technology includes the following:

  • Flaw detection, including scratches, racks, or discoloration on product surfaces
  • Identification, including the tracking of production parts and reading and verifying product lots and codes
  • Measurement, such as checking dimensional accuracy on parts against geometrical tolerances
  • Positioning, including guiding robots or aligning inspection tools
  • Verification of parts, assemblies, and packaged goods

Teledyne DALSA’s GigE cameras, like others in this category, provide multiple modes for industrial imaging applications. The company’s cameras have been used to detect ocean pollution and will soon be used in the International Space Station.

Machine vision helps robotics move to the next level

Machine vision systems, including 2D and 3D cameras and other sensors, are becoming more affordable and more capable. As a result, they’re helping to make cobot arms and mobile platforms easier to adopt for manufacturing and supply chain operations.

As assembly processes increasingly rely on automated, image-based inspections, these systems will play an even greater role in the future as line speeds increase, tolerances are more stringent, and quality-control expectations continue to rise.

Main image courtesy of Deposit Photos.