Design Assistant’s subflowchart feature allows the inspection logic to be neatly separated from the communication and data logging logic. This helped simplify the design process and will facilitate future maintenance. Subflowcharts allow for a common programming architecture between cameras with the main program and custom subflowcharts for different program numbers/complexity. The subflowcharts contain only vision tools, which make it easy to troubleshoot when complex modifications are required.
Other smart cameras were evaluated by ThyssenKrupp for the vision system but the Matrox Iris GT offered some key advantages. Maitland explains, “Matrox products offer features best suited for this application at a competitive price.” He continues, “Matrox Iris GT also has a lot more memory than other smart cameras. We can load multiple jobs (inspections) in memory simultaneously. Other smart cameras’ memory limitations would have required that we load one job at a time. As well, images would have to be stored on a separate PC, since there would be inadequate on-camera storage. Design Assistant’s flowchart logic also allows us to branch and execute different inspections within an application. In contrast, other smart cameras only support the development of standalone inspections—an application needs to be shut down before the next one can be loaded and executed.”
The engine line’s vision system was deployed in September 2010. “Deployment went smoothly”, explains Maitland. “Application troubleshooting was handled remotely—it’s easy to debug a flowchart when the logic is visually presented as interconnected blocks.” ThyssenKrupp handled the majority of these technical issues and only required support from Matrox Imaging on a few occasions during the initial development phase. It was on those rare occasions, however, that ThyssenKrupp appreciated having direct access to experienced engineers at Matrox. Fabio Perelli, Smart Camera Product Manager for Matrox Imaging, adds, “ThyssenKrupp vision developers are extremely experienced—in fact, they provided us with valuable feedback on our smart camera software—some of which has already been incorporated into Matrox Design Assistant.”
As well, ThyssenKrupp only needed to spend a day training plant staff on the vision system. And so far, there have been no technical issues that have required ThyssenKrupp to send staff on-site to troubleshoot.
Three inspection stations on the engine assembly line currently use vision and another station was added in January 2011. Since the first three stations have proven to be effective and maintenance-free, the engine manufacturer is looking to use Matrox Imaging vision components to ensure that many more assembly processes are being completed properly.