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Production inspection upgrade for defect elimination

Man, Enghelhard factory computer with cognex identification screen

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Vision system solutions boost flexibility for robotic “pick and place” application

Engelhard Technologie, Germany, a global manufacturer of soot particle filters for the automotive industry use In-Sight® vision systems for greater efficiency on their production lines.

Engelhard Technologie GmbH use robots to handle materials during production at their Nienburg plant. To optimize the manufacturing of soot particle filters for the automotive industry, they followed the advice of their robot supplier; Staübli, to consider vision systems from global specialist Cognex. By December the vision system was in place. Thanks to the efficient development environment of In-Sight Explorer software, the ‘pick-and-place’ vision guided robotic solution was up and running in less than four weeks.

Vision = accuracy = an efficient robot application

Immediately after firing, the ceramic filters are automatically forwarded to a conveyor and then to the robot cell. The soot filter product variants differ only very slightly from each other, but still need to be handled reliably by the vision system.

The Cognex In-Sight® vision system used in the robot cell must recognize each individual shape among the 25 different filter variants and also determine their exact position. These angles are provided to the robot as precise data and must be accurate as the reading of the 2D codes takes place at the same point. A great advantage for this application was were the vision tools integrated into In-Sight as part of the PatMax® software. These tools operate using geometry-oriented object recognition. This allowed a target of 99.9 % accuracy to be set.

The accuracy of the position data as supplied by the In-Sight vision system guides the robot. The selected ceramic filters are then placed by the robot onto the conveyor belt and they are forwarded to packaging.

Fast, flexible configuration

Thomas Wente of Engelhard Technologie GmbH, responsible for project execution, said: “We considered it to be very important to be able to execute projects quickly and reliably, yet we wanted to be able to perform any necessary changes to the process ourselves.”

Easy configuration, installation and organization of the In-Sight vision system helps to speed up project realization and brings a greater flexibility to project work, as well as bringing about a faster response capability in any process adaptation.

Color detection using vision

It was also possible to master additional control tasks such as packing the soot filters. By using an In-Sight color vision sensor it is possible to verify the presence of a green quality label on each filter and whether the cardboard box contains the prescribed number of parts. By continuously checking the number of packed parts and by comparing the number actually produced it is possible to determine the amount of rejects/loss. The support of Cognex experts at the production line itself made it possible to implement the control task in only two days demonstrating once again the benefit of a simple operator interface.

A scalable development environment

From the beginning, additional applications of the vision system had been planned for the production lines. The user-friendly working platform based on the Windows environment enabled a time-saving, application-specific solution for the vision tasks to be completed. Work was begun straight away using the In-Sight Explorer development environment which saved initial set-up time and costs. The staff learned very quickly how to use the In-Sight Explorer platform thus reducing vision development time while providing a basis for functional system flexibility and integration into the company’s production network. Another In-Sight system has been integrated into the existing robot cell and two further vision sensors control the second and latest robot cell to be installed.

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