Robots in action can be found everywhere. Robot Manufacturers give examples of robot applications in different industries.
Kawasaki, Germany - IFR Partner
Automation at the highest degree: How to manage 6 dimensions in only one system
Since 1997, the company CLK is specialized in image processing for quality control and automation purposes. According to the needs of today's consumers, standard methods are considered to be behind the times. For this reason, right from the beginning CLK has focused on particular configurations for complex tasks in the fields of steel making, component supply, medico-technical equipment and plastics technology.
"For quite some time already, our main activities concern the food sector", declares Dr. Carsten Cruse, managing director of CLK. "In that branch, many producers have recognized the need of high-grade monitoring equipment, so the turnover here is continuously increasing. Most of the competitors are aware of the fact that negligence could entail a drop in quality or even a scandal."
Of course, a complex instrumentation is not necessary for every case. 2D inspections for integrity, sorting procedures or general process monitoring units still belong to the day-to-day operations of the company. Other similar cases concern inspections for foreign matter, or the quick detection of the use-by date of a moving product (e.g. on a conveying belt), combined with a sorting procedure for further handling or elimination.
In order to enlarge the range of products with regard to current needs, a high-precision 3D colour-vision system is launched, after an intense cooperation with Kawasaki Robotics. Suitable also for most stringent quality inspections, it represents an ideal choice for a clientele tolerating no deviation with respect to the appearance, colour or geometrical properties of the raw material. Furthermore the obtained results can be used by the robot for an individual treatment of each single object.
The 3D inspection system behaves like a human eye and evaluates different parameters individually to be set up, according to the circumstances. A stereo camera system is integrated, which collects depth data, to be superimposed to another picture, to grasp the points in space. This feature makes available a data set largely increased compared to conventional 2D systems, on behalf of an improved robot control. On the basis of the detected height, volume and surface inclination data, the machine sets the gripper angle, decides on the starting point of a cutting procedure or sorts out the item.
In this way, the tool may precisely be directed along a path created by the image data, in a defined and accurately calculated orientation. The entire arrangement, comprising a 3D camera and a 2D colour camera, thus manages 6 dimensions simultaneously, 3 for detection and 3 for the robot operation.
Deviations in shape, dimensions, colour and position can reliably be discovered also for moving objects, e.g. on a conveying belt. The combination with the robot enlarges the capabilities of the image processing system to a nearly unlimited number of applications.
In order to minimize the response time, both manufacturers have elaborated and established an adequate communication between robot and PC. The rugged construction of the robot withstands also harsh industrial environment conditions.
"Our cooperation with Kawasaki was a full success. Service and quality perfectly match the conditions also for extremely complex situations", confirms Dr. Cruse, and Johannes Rolf, sales manager of Kawasaki Robotics Germany, agrees: "For us as a robot manufacturer, it is an enormous advantage working together with a partner like CLK, so we can offer combined systems far beyond the standards."
Programming of the procedures not in the least complicated. The user does not need to know the 3D result. The whole sequence including all parameters can be prepared by means of the 2D image. A simple self-teach package is available as well, which enables to quickly adapt the sequence to new applications. The relevant terminology and teach-in sequence remain in the memory and can be re-used any time. Special knowledge is not necessary, because the software is optimized with regard to the product. After a short learning phase, in-situ reconfiguration is accomplished in no time at all.
A current example of the 3D vision system is profile cutting of chop portions, carried out in meat industry (Westfleisch eG, Münster, Germany). The border of fat is automatically removed, over a length of 1 m. The 3D camera detects the shape of the entire piece, and the 2D colour camera makes the distinction between the meat itself and the border. As soon as the robot receives the exact position data, the cutting process including correct start angle and cutting depth is initiated. This procedure is performed "on the fly", at a belt speed of 240 m/s.