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Boost picking productivity

12 August 2014

It is reported that vision-guided robot picking applications can be made more productive and cost-effective with the launch of the ScanningRuler, an advanced new 3D camera solution from SICK UK.

The ScanningRuler’s large field of view enables accurate 3D imaging of stationary objects, boosting the productivity of high-throughput robotics applications and making it easier for robot integrators to achieve volume picking in heavy industrial applications.

By combining 3D and 2D measurements, the ScanningRuler offers unique new features to support fast and accurate picking of random machined parts piled in stillages, bins and baskets without requiring movement of the camera unit or the container. With a built-in laser light source, the imaging technology is resistant to ambient light changes and provides reliable measurements with varying surface characteristics and part colours.

A single ScanningRuler can generate a complete 3D image of the content contained within the volumetric area associated with a U.S. or Euro pallet. It promises to benefit materials handling and logistics applications such as picking or depalletising from pallets or trays, as well as a completeness check and empty space reduction.

SICK’s newly-developed algorithm enables the ScanningRuler to operate with maximum versatility. Incorporating a fixed laser with a rotating mirror, the camera sweep-scans the volumetric area producing a 3D measuring image of all parts with their x/y/z points in millimetres and an accurate 2D overlay which enables part identification against known profiles. The combined image can be processed by image handling software and tell robot arm where to start gripping.

The ScanningRuler image produced can be used to direct the robot’s gripping arms to select the uppermost part in a pile at its optimum gripping position and deposit it on, for example, a conveyor line or a tray.

With the ScanningRuler, robotics applications do not need external light sources, encoders or additional imaging equipment, so integrators and machine builders can design and develop competitive, flexible solutions.

"The ScanningRuler offers robotic integrators additional speed, versatility and functionality in solving heavy picking duties such as automotive parts,” explains Neil Sandhu, Application Specialist for Imaging & Measurement at Sick:

"Up to now this task could only be done by having a fixed camera and moving the heavy bin under it, or moving the camera which shortens the camera life. Often the only effective solution has been  using human labour, risking problems of repetitive stress and strain.”

The SICK ScanningRuler is a compact 820mm by 107mm by 128mm high IP65 unit. The large field of view comprises a 1000mm to 2000mm scanning range over a 1000mm by 1200mm by 700mm maximum volume.

The ScanningRuler is easy to integrate with a robotic control comms network, via Gigabit Ethernet to the PC controller. The ScanningRuler 3D scan is factory-calibrated for rapid commissioning and accurate set up.