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09.07.2018

Machine Vision Adds Momentum to Industry 4.0

Easier data exchange with OPC UA

  • The integration of industrial machine vision and automation is creating new possibilities
  • OPC UA interface standard promotes the comprehensive exchange of process data and information
  • Machine vision industry publishes OPC UA specification "Vision" as a common information model

Wiesbaden, Germany, July 9, 2018 – The automation and digitization of production are on the rise worldwide. This development is ensuring strong growth rates for the German engineering industry, as shown by the latest figures from the Robotics and Automation division of German industry association VDMA. Machine vision plays an important role here, as it provides valuable information that enables greater process integration and data-driven process optimization. In conjunction with automation and machine learning – when systems automatically recognize patterns and relationships based on learned data – machine vision offers new ways to turn future-oriented concepts such as the smart factory into reality.


Application of machine vision is continuously growing
The application field of the machine vision industry has significally expanded in recent years: better sensor systems and more computing power, for example, make it possible to carry out increasingly complex inspection tasks. Another example is the development from 2D image processing to three-dimensional systems. For instance, in automobile manufacturing, 3D inspection systems inspect complex geometries such as castings. Optical inspection detects not only the smallest defects, but also provides valuable data that can be used for optimizing processes. “We see an increasing trend toward digital factories, which means there is also a growing hunger for process knowledge and quality data,” explains Dr. Heiko Frohn, Head of Technology, VITRONIC Dr.-Ing. Stein Bildverarbeitungssysteme GmbH. “Hardly any other sensor technology is able to support this trend the way machine vision does.”


Data exchange and analysis remain key factors
Capturing process information through machine vision systems is a growing trend in many industries. However, a major challenge still lies in the efficient use of the data obtained. In terms of Industry 4.0, real-time control of the processes is possible above all by means of industrial machine vision. This is because hardly any other component in the production process collects and analyzes as much information as this one. Key issues here are: How should machines be set up to prevent defects? How do the machines work as efficiently as possible? How can subsequent errors in adjacent processes be avoided?


Systems communicate in one language
The OPC UA (Open Platform Communications Unified Architecture) serves as a basis for the interoperable, manufacturer-independent and capability-based exchange of information. This open interface standard simplifies data exchange to integrate production across manufacturers and platforms. OPC UA serves as an information framework that enables communication based on the same exchange language. This reduces the integration effort of components and systems and the associated costs. "More interface efficiency means not only cost advantages in the market, but also risk reduction and flexible use," adds Dr. Heiko Frohn. "In the long term, this increases the value of the systems."


Specification simplifies integration
For machine vision, OPC UA creates an independent interface that facilitates the provision of relevant data from production processes.  For optimal use of the potential of the OPC UA standards, the so-called companion specification was developed in cooperation with companies as part of the VDMA OPC Vision Initiative. This provides a generic information model for all vision systems and components, so that basic functionalities can be addressed independently of the manufacturer and integrated on the IT side.


OPC UA becomes concrete through practice and workshops
The OPC UA specification for the machine vision industry was presented at the end of June 2018 at the industry trade show Automatica in Munich. Already at the beginning of the year, the Munich-based Online Education Startup and the VDMA had developed an online training program for the implementation of OPC UA. Experts from industry and science, including Kuka, Bosch Rexroth, Pepperl+Fuchs, Lenze, Fraunhofer IOSB and VITRONIC explain the application possibilities of the new communication protocol and provide practical hints for its implementation.
The OPC UA online training is available at: www.u4i.io/opc
Further information on VITRONIC's contribution can be found at: https://www.university4industry.com/vitronic


Press contact:     
Peter Mänz
Media Relations
Industrial Automation
Phone: +49 (0)611 7152 7017
Mail: peter.maenz(at)vitronic.com
Twitter: @vitronic

VITRONIC Dr.-Ing. Stein
Bildverarbeitungssysteme GmbH
Hasengartenstr. 14
65189 Wiesbaden, Germany
Phone::+49 (0)611 7152 0
www.vitronic.com



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