How to Integrate Industrial Robots and Machine Vision in Manufacturing: Beyond Industry 4.0

Date: October 10, 2019

Author: Nazneen A

Industry 4.0 is more than a buzzword. It is taking over a chunk of the digital transformation and is boosting capabilities with Smart Manufacturing, Smart Factories, and IoT use-cases. Machines are augmented with web connectivity and connected to a system that can visualize the entire production chain. Rapid advances in automation technology for more flexible workflows are leading to greater efficiency. However, we are gradually moving into a new phase of Industry 4.0 – the one where smarter robots and machine vision technologies are redefining the advantages promised by Industrial IoT. This article delves into this concept in detail.

What Does Industry 4.0 mean for Manufacturers?

With Industry 4.0, we are now at a junction. We have reached the next milestone in connecting emerging technologies and trends with automation and data exchange in manufacturing. It is also referred to as the fourth industrial revolution, as it is focused on bringing cyber-physical systems into the mainstream and placing them at the forefront of the manufacturing industry.

This new era of manufacturing builds on automation and streamlines previously manual, fragmented workflow processes. If Industry 1.0 represented the rise of water and steam power, 2.0 the advent of electric power, and 3.0 computing capabilities, Industry 4.0 harnesses the interconnectivity of machines, processes, and products. But tangibly, how can this latest revolution power manufacturer as they strive to remain competitive and agile? Industry 4.0 creates cyber physical systems that track within the modular, structured factories to generate a virtual copy of the physical globe and make decentralized choices. As this era takes hold, it’s important to understand the technologies that underpin industrial automation and productivity, and also how they help people work in harmony with the machines. Fully automated robotics systems put parts together, guide them through the factory, and assure that quality standards are met.

Machine Vision for Robotic Applications Leads Onward to Industry 4.0

Being essential to the success of Industry 4.0 initiatives, advanced robotics and their relationship to machine vision is making an impact on every step of the manufacturing process. Machine vision has played a vital role in the evolution of industrial robotics, and the two are becoming increasingly integrated. The main reason for this trend is that cameras have become more powerful and more accurate in rugged industrial settings than ever before. While robotic capabilities have certainly improved, it’s been the ability of cameras to let robots see what’s around them that has provided some of the most profitable and productive benefits.

Mounting a smart camera at the end of a robotic arm opens up a wide variety of applications because the arm can traverse around the part being inspected to check a variety of criteria. Machine vision combines a range of technologies to provide useful outputs from the acquisition and analysis of images for robot-based inspection and guidance. Inspection, the fast-growing area, uses machine vision to determine surface defects, color, or presence/absence.

Pathpartner’s deep expertise in machine vision technology provides building blocks to OEMs developing reliable product inspection, quality control, defect monitoring, and data capture solutions. These features are ideal for manufacturers seeking to boost their productivity and carry out processes with minimal human intervention, as well as tasks that require endurance, speed, and precision with both kinds of methods; the classic ones and the advanced ones, which are based on deep learning and CNNs. A few of the use cases are mentioned below:

Packaging & Palletizing

Parts Presence

Vision Guidance

Error Detection

Pick and Place

Traceability & Marking

Assembly & Labelling

Quality Inspection

Robotics and IoT

Internet of Things (IoT) is often related to connected devices like security cameras or wearable heart monitors. But what does the future of IoT with robotics look like?

Integration of IoT with industrial robots is called The Internet of Robotic Things (IoRT). It is estimated that the IoRT market will be worth over $21.44 billion by 2022. This Integration will help monitor events happening around them, fuse their sensor data, make use of local and distributed intelligence to decide on courses of action, and manipulate or control objects in the physical world. With IoT, the robot by itself may be intelligent; it can collect all data and certain values from each of its sensors and either store or transmit the live data that is acquired.

Robotics and IoT have been driven by varying yet highly related objectives. IoT focuses on supporting services for pervasive sensing, monitoring and tracking, while the robotic communities focus on production action, interaction, and autonomous behavior. A strong value would be added by combining the two and creating an Internet of Robotic Things.

Conclusion

In this blog post, we’ve looked at how machine vision and robotics are getting integrated into manufacturing. We’ve looked at some use cases applied to robotic applications. We closed out by looking at how robotics and IoT (IoRT) can be integrated. Point to highlight is that machine vision is being used along with robots to help reduce defects in manufacturing lines and improve productivity, to establish a significant competitive advantage, and to move beyond industry 4.0 with self-correcting, continuously learning, and ever-improving workflows. Industry 5.0 has already appeared on the horizon. Our factories only will become more productive and efficient and less wasteful due to advance in smart machines, robotics and IoT.

If you’d like to find out more about PathPartner and how we enabled machine vision and robotics applications for industrial use-cases, write to us at marcom@pathpartnertech.com Or if you’d prefer, why not arrange a call with us?

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