The smart camera acts as a “server” on an Ethernet network and has no way to display images itself. Instead, images are sent over the Ethernet to a “client” PC (Personal Computer). You set up and program the smart camera from the client PC and then “log off” of the smart camera and let it run independently. Results are reported over Ethernet using standard industrial protocols or via digital input/output lines from the camera. Consequently, one “client” PC can manage many smart cameras.
The Smart Camera in Action
Prime Engineered Components in Watertown, CT manufactures precision-turned products for industries ranging from aerospace to automotive. The company produces 800,000 parts per week. Since defective parts cause expensive returns and hurt customer relations, Prime uses smart cameras for their 100% quality inspection.
“We elected to put vision in place for a multitude of dimensional inspections,” says Kathy Dibble, Director of Quality for Prime. “We would much rather remedy any quality problems in-house before product ships to our customers.” The BOA’s ease of use and programming, along with its accuracy, were the primary reasons Prime decided to implement smart cameras in their machine vision system.
One Prime facility manufactures mostly screw machined parts — parts with grooved patterns such as threaded anchor bolts. Critical dimensions for these parts include the minimum and maximum dimensions of the threads. To measure these dimensions, the parts are fed by a vibratory feeder into slots on an index wheel. The wheel turns to position the part in front of the smart camera and a “caliper tool” measures the thread dimensions.
The quality of the parts going out the door has increased dramatically since the smart camera solution was implemented during the spring of 2010. Machine downtime stemming from frequent issues with the old vision system has been greatly reduced. In addition, Dibble and her team are thrilled with the ease of use of the BOA, in particular with the embedded iNspect Express interface. iNspect Express allows users to build solutions using a comprehensive toolset that is accessed via a web browser from a standard PC or laptop, and it connects directly to a variety of Ethernet-ready factory devices.
“It’s a simple, streamlined machine vision application that has worked wonders for our quality control,” concludes Dibble.
Today’s smart cameras, packaged complete with application software, offer scalable vision solutions designed to satisfy a wide range of application needs from positioning robotic handlers to complete assembly verification, so if you’re looking for a powerful and quick-to-deploy machine vision solution, consider a highly integrated smart camera that comprises all of the elements of an industrial machine vision system.