Vision Systems – Online or Offline?
Vision systems for Factory Automation have evolved from a novelty or a nice to have to a necessity or must-have. With the fast changing world of factory automation, the quality parameters are ever increasing to new heights, necessitating the use of machine vision in the production process. The primary use of Machine Vision Systems in the factory is either to improve quality or to automate production. When used for quality inspection, the primary purpose of Machine Vision is to automate complex mundane tasks that can be performed at high speeds, accuracy, and consistency. Additionally, machine vision can be used to automate production processes like guiding a robot to perform a pick or a place operation by identifying the position of a target object.
Machine Vision Systems come in various forms and it’s important to distinguish between bespoke systems and ready-made solutions. Although many ready made machines exist for various applications (like sorting, general purpose gauging, etc) these are not designed to be used “online” or integrated into the production process but rather for “offline” use. The important distinction is that offline systems require an additional processing step and cannot be interlocked within the production process.
Offline systems are more suitable for adoption in the end of the line or in the finished stages where mistakes or quality issues that are found cannot be rectified. Online systems, on the other hand, are integrated within the manufacturing process and can be used to catch defects as early as they have occurred.
This results in the advantage that these defects can be corrected or at the very least future value additions can be avoided increasing production efficiency and reducing scrap.