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Mick Keane, technical director at RNA, identifies the use of RNA’s vision system technology in process lines and component handling systems such as bowl feeders.

Vision systems are widely used to examine component parts in detail and evaluate the image to make accept/fail decisions.

The systems perform data collection to assist quality control by identifying ‘trends’.

Applications with highly complex components moving at high speeds can utilise automated vision inspection systems.

OCR (optical character recognition) can be used to identify specific features of components such as bar codes or batch numbers.

RNA recently developed a high-speed tablet inspection system to measure size, shape and OCR features.

A speed of 800-1,000 tablets per minute was reached with 100 per cent accuracy.

The use of a vision system also offers the possibility to sort different component parts or a range of components into groups or individual tracks.

It removes the need for mechanical orientation devices and can provide a simple and reliable feed system.

Applications can also involve sorting for size or colour.

RNA recently supplied a handling system to sort and inspect clothing tags into tote bins dependant on colour and numerical identity.

Robotic handling systems can automate a production line where small batch runs and sensitive difficult components have previously been impossible or too costly to automate.

The systems utilise a robotic arm for handling and manipulating the product combined with a camera system.

They share the same PC-based control system in most cases integrated with a standard robot and controller.

The systems are easy to operate and have the added benefit of short setup times between products.

The shortest possible payback time and minimal operator intervention are also key benefits of vision-guided robots.

With these systems, it is possible to automate small or large batches and achieve good profitability, even with annual volumes as low as 1,000 components.

The RNA SVIA system can offer low cost, high mechanical reliability, versatility and short cycle times with a wide variety of components.

The handling system is a key component of an automated vision system; by delivering components in a uniform and controlled manner the vision system can process data more efficiently.

Vision technology can be used to improve material handling by adding extra functionalities such as quality inspection, counting, sorting and product tracking.

Integrating a handling and vision system to work together is regarded as the most critical and challenging factor for RNA when designing and building a system.

At the early stage in developing a vision system, it is impetrative to determine the exact placement of the component in view of the camera for imaging.

RNA utilises its standard products to transport components in view of the vision; examples are linear feeders, conveyer belts, robotic arms and pick-and-place units.

The standard RNA components are selected by taking into account the product characteristics, orientation, system speed and processing time of the vision software.

The feeding system should be selected and designed with some degree of flexibility as the parameters may change further in the design and build process.

Often camera suppliers give a static demonstration of camera system only for it to fail when parts are fed past it at a high rate or at the rejection point.

For challenging applications, trials are carried out to confirm the chosen camera system will work in real time as components are passed before it at the required rate.

RNA designs and builds camera systems as a total package and will also carry out feasibility studies with in-house equipment for development projects or new machinery.

Camera systems are supplied black and white or colour with a grey area between the vision and handling system.

RNA can supply a total package minimising the risk to the customer.

The company supplies to a wide array of industries such as checking tolerances for automotive, counting systems for bagging machines, packaged food or barcode reading and tablet inspection applications.

RNA can supply a machine vision solution that will satisfy both short and long-term requirements to minimise the ownership cost and maximise the system’s productivity.

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