Supporting vision systems integrators on automation projects
As Europe’s largest independent supplier of vision technology and services, STEMMER IMAGING is perfectly placed to partner with systems integrators on a wide range of vision projects. Working with industrial and scientific OEMs, system integrators and reseller markets, STEMMER IMAGING can offer a broad range of experience on different levels of collaboration. If end users need help identifying a suitable integrator, they can call on the company’s network of highly experienced system integrators. These have successfully implemented many thousands of machine vision solutions in a wide range of industries.
Demanding and complex vision projects often require a number of approaches. Working closely with an integrator who could also have expertise in fields as diverse as mechanical design, mechanical handling and transport systems, software, electronics, robotics, control systems and factory networks, as well as CAD, provides a joint capability and breadth of technology that allows the creation of novel solutions that many other providers simply couldn't deliver.
Early stage support
With 70 % of staff being engineers and technically qualified, STEMMER IMAGING is well positioned to offer competent, personal and independent advice to integrators. The first step is to evaluate the details of the application:
- What objects are to be inspected?
- What type of inspection is required (measuring, code reading, defect detection etc)?
- What is the cycle time for inspection?
- What accuracy is required for measuring?
- Are there any physical constraints on positioning the machine vision components?
- What are the ambient environmental conditions?
- Does the system need to be fully integrated into the production process?
- What level of maintenance is acceptable?
The results of this evaluation will lead to first stage feasibility studies. These may be carried out by the integrator using components from the company’s extensive stock inventory on a loan (sale or return) basis. This offers integrators a huge benefit since they can evaluate different products with no financial risk and then decide which of the alternatives are best suited for use in the project. Due to the large stockholding, loan equipment can be delivered all over Europe the next day. Alternatively STEMMER IMAGING can further reduce risk by conducting the initial feasibility studies, testing samples in their evaluation laboratories and providing specialised product training if required.
If standard products do not meet the requirements, it is possible to offer customised solutions. This includes in-house cable manufacturing, which can create validated and tested bespoke cable harnesses, modification of standard products and customization of accessories to ease system design. Sometimes product suppliers themselves are prepared to co-operate with customisation. Other custom services include mechanical modifications, temperature and optical calibration, software development and FPGA programming, sensor glass removal and sensor cleaning etc.
The partnership can be further extended in a number of ways throughout the project through ongoing vision consultancy, especially in the area of vision software development, and project management capabilities. However STEMMER frequently becomes further involved by providing optimised systems design thus reducing development time for the project. By producing pre-configured vision subsystems and vision systems certified to various standards, production and integration time and costs can be significantly reduced. In addition, an in-house advanced integration team can build and integrate components into a custom housing and configure an embedded vision PC including a custom disk image and final test of the complete solution. This is then ready for integration into the overall system.
Award winning collaborations
STEMMER IMAGING is a past winner of the PPMA ‘Partnership of The Year’ award - a public recognition of the work it has carried out with one of its network of systems integrators. Working with this integrator since soon after they were formed, the company has been able to make a huge contribution by providing loan equipment or products on sale or return. In addition, STEMMER IMAGING’s influence with suppliers is very important.
One particular project needed a novel lighting arrangement involving two expensive lights. These lights were procured at no cost and the supplier was persuaded to agree to allow special modifications to prove the design concept. This integrator also makes extensive use of Teledyne DALSA’s Sherlock machine vision software and has made suggestions for software improvements which have been fed back to Teledyne DALSA.
This has frequently resulted in software updates – sometimes in timescales as short as 4 weeks. The importance of system integrator support was also highlighted at STEMMER IMAGING’s recent Vision Technology Forum, where a dedicated ‘Integrator Zone’ was set up and five integrators were on hand to discuss potential projects with Forum delegates.