The Value of a Machine Vision Integrator
Because it is an extremely adaptable technology, understanding the best way to integrate machine vision into your existing workflow can be hard. There are countless different solutions and possibilities depending on the industry you work in, so it can be easy to become confused or uncertain when attempting to make a decision.
This is why many suppliers of this technology act as vendors and as consultants, working to find the best solution for your needs. Here, they act as integrators, working to implement machine vision into your operation, whether it be in manufacturing, security, life sciences, or another field entirely.
Here we’ll discuss the values and benefits of working with machine vision integrators, give you a better understanding of what they do, the unique benefits they have to offer, and who exactly they can help.
What do Machine Vision Integrators Do?
The process of integrating machine vision into an existing workflow is not always a straightforward one and certainly varies depending on the industry. However, there are a series of processes that these integrators will follow when evaluating your needs and the best functionality.
As Quality Mag explains, this step-by-step process includes a comprehensive evaluation of your individual equipment and understanding what type of vision is best suited for your work. Song the way is a lot of documentation and research to ensure the best results are achieved.
Review Best Practices
Here your integrator will sit down to discuss the best practices within machine vision based on their experience and industry case studies. The importance of this step is to give you a fundamental understanding of what they’re trying to offer and, in turn, respond with what your desired outcome is.
Of course, this desired outcome will adapt as they explain what they can offer to you, and you may find yourself getting even more value than originally expected.
Develop an Application Analysis Document
Here the integrator will take the results of your discussion and develop a project document that will serve as a charter of sorts, with the stated goals for your integration. This document will also include details like parts, products, and installation procedures as needed.
From here, the document will be updated to include specifications based on your current operation, which will help identify needed equipment like high-quality machine vision lenses and work to filter through results based on specifications and price.
Importantly, some of these components are known as “critical path” components, without which the entire system could fail, such as the sensors that capture the machine images. Typically systems are designed around the capabilities of these components to avoid these failures, but identifying and focusing on them is key.
Manage and Execute On The Project
With an understanding of what you are going to add, you and your integrator will now develop a project plan in a project management software tool like Asana. Here you will both work to keep the project on the timeline and ensure it follows guidelines for automation and user interface. Your execution will likely require a lot of testing and iteration to complete it optimally, so be sure to build time for testing into your timeline.
This is a collaborative process that involves installation technicians, ordering parts and equipment from vendors, and training personnel to use these as needed. As such, it will require a lot of communication between yourself and the integrator.
Be prepared to meet and discuss with them regularly as needed.
Finally, you will need to ensure that, once installed, the machine vision system is able to complete the stated objectives in your original planning documents. This includes a comprehensive re-review of the entire project to understand how the actual outcomes were reached and verify that both parties are satisfied with the results.
Once that is done, your workflow has a brand new machine vision system.
What Are the Benefits of Using a Machine Vision Integrator?
While it is certainly possible to develop a machine vision system without integration, these specialists are likely to have more niche information that could be critical to your operation.
If you don’t understand the proper method for conducting your scanning, like whether it should be 1D, 2D, or 3D, it makes it difficult to optimize your operation. Additionally, these integrators will understand the special care that needs to be put into elements like lighting, which is key for providing your artificial intelligence with a clear image to analyze.
As the Association for Advancing Automation describes, these integrators are also keenly aware of what machine vision technology is on the horizon and understand where the current limitations of the medium are.
These systems generate a colossal amount of data and require innovative solutions for storing the said data in an accessible form. Additionally, the technology behind machine vision is constantly improving; as camera speeds are increasing, we are creating higher precision optical lenses, and graphics processing is reaching higher fidelities.
Integrators are able to consider more than the average engineer, as they have an in-depth understanding of not just machine vision technology but also how other technologies like artificial intelligence and 3D sensors are impacting it. They can discern what avenues are currently feasible with existing technology and possibly when upcoming technology can help offer new solutions.
In other words, these are industry experts who can see past the surface level and examine the components underneath.
Who Do Machine Vision Integrators Work With?
Machine vision is useful beyond just industrial manufacturing but is actually useful in many industries to help with quality control and safety measures. While you might not see values for machine vision in what you do, integrators may be able to identify aspects of your business or operation that can be improved with this automotive technology, saving you money over time and increasing efficiency.
ASM has a helpful list of industries where machine vision has had an impact, which can be helpful in understanding where you might fit in. Even if you are not on this list, you could exist adjacent to one of these sectors and receive similar benefits.
Life Sciences: As an industry that works in the molecular, life sciences have ample use for machine vision, automatically collecting visual samples for scientist or machine examination. Here, microscopic lenses can help identify certain compounds or elements in a sample and do so with accuracy and reliability.
Pharmaceutical: Similar to life science, here we can develop medications and other treatment products with accuracy, but this time for the safety of patients. Here we are also able to verify the properties of a label to ensure every detail is properly listed, which can be crucial in certain situations.
Food and Beverage: Just as we can ensure medications are treated correctly, we can do the same for foods and beverages by monitoring the integrity of packages and maintaining traceability. With this traceability, we can get better insight into the source of recalls to remedy issues as they arise and keep people safe properly.
Consumer Products: All consumer products require a degree of handling, inspection, and labeling, and machine vision can assist with all of these. Here a higher grade of visual knowledge can maintain product standards and labeling to ensure they offer a fair experience for potential customers.
Automotive and Robotics: In machine assembly, digital vision enables greater accuracy in the installation and fabrication of parts. If certain elements on a device are not constructed properly, they can break an entire device, leading to mass recalls, delays, or other hurdles.
Logistics: Finally, machine vision can help with all aspects of logistics, whether that be monitoring quality or monitoring safety to maximize efficiency and minimize potential hazards and risks.
As we’ve seen, machine vision can help industries and operations worldwide, but it can be easy to get lost in this broad-ranging technology. With the expert assistance of a machine vision integrator, you can design, develop, and install a custom solution that is designed to meet your needs.
This may take extra time and incur more upfront costs, but over time the savings in personal and increased output will speak for themselves, offering immense value to you and what you do.