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Oxford Sensor Technology (OST) has developed a high-speed inspection system for the automotive industry based on Micro-Epsilon’s Scancontrol 2700 non-contact laser profile displacement sensor.

The Beadmonitor measurement system monitors the quality of polyurethane (PU) beads as they are applied to glass during vehicle assembly.

The system measures the height and width of PU bead as it is applied to the edges of the vehicle glass.

The sensor head is mounted on the robot arm, directly behind the applicator nozzles.

Anthony Williams, managing director at OST, said: ‘Beadmonitor provides a cost-effective solution for vehicle assemblers and systems integrators who need to inspect PU beads before the robot places the glass into the vehicle.

‘Beadmonitor enables much tighter control of safety-critical procedures.

‘Typical cycle times for inspecting adhesive bead and for assembling glass into the vehicle are around 60 seconds, depending on the number of robots employed in the line.

‘The bead measurement process is critical because if a glass windscreen is incorrectly fitted to the vehicle due to little or no adhesive being applied at a certain point on the glass edge, the result could be a water leak for the driver.

‘Worse still, for many vehicles today, the windscreen has become an integral part of overall vehicle strength and rigidity, so any weaknesses in the glass bonding could pose a safety risk to the passengers.

‘Conversely, if too much adhesive is applied, the vehicle assembler considers this wasteful and an increased cost to the operation.

‘This scenario may also result in a degradation of the vehicle’s aesthetic appeal to the customer, particularly if excess adhesive is visible around the glass edge,’ he added.

Beadmonitor provides the vehicle assembler with a simple interface that shows a depiction of the vehicle glass, with the adhesive bead marked on the screen in green, orange or red, depending on the measured width and height when compared with preset tolerances.

Two separate X and R bar charts show the consistency of the bead width and height over time.

Williams continued: ‘When we decided to develop Beadmonitor, we needed to select a suitable supplier of a non-contact laser profile displacement sensor.

‘It was very important that the sensor being offered was technically capable of doing the job; the sensor scanning speed and image quality were also critical.

‘If you apply a bead at high speed, say 210mm per second and inspect at 70Hz, in effect you are taking measurements of the bead at every 3mm, which is borderline satisfactory in terms of sensor performance for most car assemblers.

‘Ideally, you want to be taking measurements every 1mm.

‘Image quality is important too, as you need to be confident that the sensor can cope with the detection of shiny black surfaces in order to reliably detect the bead,’ he said.

Williams added that, during product evaluation, the company was confident that the Scancontrol 2700 sensor was providing the software with reliable data.

The Scancontrol 2700 provides an integrated controller in the sensing head, making it very compact and lightweight.

The user requires no other components to evaluate the measurement data and the unit is said to be simple to set up, configure and adapt for different applications.

The Scancontrol 2700 offers multiple interface options that facilitate use in a variety of software platforms.

The measurement range is programmable by the user from 10mm, 25mm and 100mm, up to as high as 600mm.

The mounting of the sensor to the robot was also a consideration.

Williams said that the sensor needs to be positioned approximately 1mm after the bead nozzle, so that the system can still take measurements when moving around bends or corners.

He added: ‘We liked the Scancontrol because it doesn’t have flying leads, just connectors directly integrated to the sensor housing.

‘With robots twisting and flexing continuously, we would have required robot-grade cabling.

‘Other sensors we looked at had half a metre of cabling that would have needed upgrading,’ said Williams.

He added that sensor ‘compactness and weight’ were also key selection criteria.

‘With the Scancontrol 2700, we get an integrated controller rather than a separate one.

‘We therefore don’t have to worry about what is located next to the air knives or other nozzle cleaning systems on the robot.

‘Also, the weight is important because, as a designer, you don’t want to place too much weight on the end of the robot arm, otherwise your system speed or flexibility may suffer,’ said Williams.

Beadmonitor is built around the Scancontrol 2700 sensor but has a user interface and custom software program developed by OST.

Williams continued: ‘Beadmonitor presents the measurement results pictorially to the vehicle assembler using graphs and a simple green-orange-red tolerance warning system.

‘The software also enables the user to look at the average bead width and height over a given time period, similar to a statistical process control system.

‘The system also provides full traceability, which is critical to the automotive industry,’ he said.


With over 45 years experience and more than 15,000 customers worldwide, Micro-Epsilon understands the need for accurate, robust, intelligent sensors and measurement systems.

With over 45 years experience and more than 15,000 customers worldwide, Micro-Epsilon understands the need for accurate, robust, intelligent sensors and measurement systems.

If you are measuring any type of displacement / position, temperature, speed or colour parameters, Micro-Epsilon sensors and systems provide market-leading performance, together with the fastest measuring rates, highest operating temperature ranges and smart interface capabilities. From simple, low cost sensors to high volume, customer-specific OEM solutions, Micro-Epsilon will have athe correct measurement solution for your application.

Using both contact and non-contact measurement techniques, Micro-Epsilon boasts one of the largest ranges of displacement sensors including 1D, 2D & 3D laser optical, confocal chromatic, eddy current, capacitive, inductive, draw-wire and time-of-flight technologies. Measuring ranges are from nanometers to kilometers!

For temperature measurement, there is a comprehensive range of non-contact infrared temperature sensors and thermal imaging cameras capable of measuring up to that include intelligent software packages to support configuration, analysis and management during the application. LED analysers, fibre optic sensors and Colour recognition sensors measure true colour using L*A*B and CIE.

Micro-Epsilon sensors are used throughout almost all industries: from automotive to aerospace, motorsport to metal production, semiconductor to subsea. Whether it’s an R&D, test, inspection, OEM or a process control application, Micro Epsilon measurement engineers can provide the right measurement solution.

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