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Machine vision solutions for everyman

07 February 2019

Machine vision solutions – a book with seven seals that can only be understood by experts? 
It doesn't have to be that way. Balluff shows with its new BVS Cockpit operator interface that the vast majority of tasks are actually easy to handle.

This interface gives users the greatest possible support and help in developing inspection programs and during the testing process. Real image processing experts only need to be called in for truly tricky situations.

And with this scalable solution different device platforms from the Balluff vision portfolio can be used to generate synergy effects. Thanks to the unchanging operating concept the user no longer has to adapt to changing vision elements within a process chain such as tracing or securing product quality thanks to the unchanging operating concept.

the user no longer has to adapt to changing vision elements within a process chain

The user can access the user interface and the individual machine vision applications over the entire network using a common web browser. A refined, tiered user management scheme ensures order with multiple access sources and the corresponding rights. After each inspection pass all test results and, if needed, the images are automatically saved to a server (FTP, FTPS, directory) for documentation.

But how did we manage to realise this range of functions and the direct image processing tasks so simply?

The answer lies in the structure of the system itself – everything needed is on board. The web access automatically gives the user the right software version and the correct manual documentation. Especially at the outset or when new functions are used the integrated online help gets you over the initial hurdles. This can then be turned off again when no longer needed.

The interface as seen in the browser follows clear structures. The user is shown only the information relevant to his current task. Other parameters "snooze" in the depths of the software until they are needed. Limiting the structure to three menu levels with no nested sub-menus represents an additional plus when it comes to clarity.

Monitor mode

In so-called Monitor mode is where adaptation to the "outside world" is made (fieldbus, system time). Here the user can also select and run the desired inspection programs. Results are passed on using certain outputs or to the PLC or a host computer in the form of so-called results packets. The history can be viewed in parallel with the current inspection run.

If the use wants to create inspection programs or change them, he simply switches to Configuration mode for selecting analysis tools from a tool box, arranging them sequentially, defining the parameters and when needed specifying tolerances. Here he can also select the important intermediate results for monitor mode. Some tools are also provided with wizards, which use objects to automatically set parameters. Here the interface guides you through the parameter definition step-by-step, search regions are specified and Good/Bad examples are taught if appropriate. The software uses this to determine optimal parameter settings which can also be modified afterwards if needed. All the tools are based on the HALCON library from MVTec Software GmbH, which however is invisible to the normal user since the Balluff software guides the user through the program using simple, self-explanatory short descriptions like "Find object," Read text," Check brightness" etc.

In Statistics mode, which can run in parallel with an inspection, the user is given important insights into the product quality. Overall statistical values as well as individual parameter trends are prepared with respect to time and statistics and represented in the form of histograms without sacrificing the performance of the ongoing inspection. Just a click lets you switch from a graph point to the associated inspection display in Monitor mode.

Industrial image processing is indispensable for modern, flexible manufacturing. The BVS Cockpit user interface makes it easy to access all functions. No special knowledge is required of the user to set up and operate his vision applications. In short: A machine vision solution for everyman.