Bernecker and Rainer (B&R) operates a semi-automatic production facility that manufactures complete control systems for the switchbox industry. Customer specifications for these devices vary widely and B&R’s out of the box solution provides customers with a great advantage, helping them avoid time- and cost-intensive parts handling processes.
Quality control is just as important as efficient manufacturing and making products with zero errors is a principal goal at B&R. B&R has deployed a new inspection system consisting of optical test stations in the form of camera tunnels that ensure the production of error free parts. This system is equipped with a high-quality five megapixel camera and application software based on Cognex VisionPro® machine vision software.
The entire production process is controlled and depicted via SAP enterprise software. This ensures that the right components and individual parts are located on all three manual workstations. For order-specific preparation of the B&R internal transport trays called the "pirate ship", the operator can enter in each individual component code and place it on the pirate ship. If a part is scanned which does not belong to the order, an error message appears on the workstation screen. After the pirate ship has followed its path back to the first assembly station, an employee removes all of the components and puts them together level by level to create a finished control. First the bus module, then the various electronics modules and lastly the final terminal blocks. For maximum security, opto-electronic sensors check each slot to ensure that the part installed is the right one. In order to make work easier for the operator, laser lines indicate the next position to be installed.
The Advantage of Modular Design
Section by section is also the method for control that transport sleds use on the trip to the first camera tunnel, for a total of three inspections. These inspections check for presence, component type, and the exact part position by measuring as well as confirming the correct setting of the node number switch at the bus module level. If an error is recognized, the control returns to the workplace, where the operator will resolve the error indicated. Only after successful testing in the camera tunnel will the device release the component.
The interplay of camera, VisionPro software and an additional operating interface ensures exact identification of the part characteristics. The PC-based Cognex VisionPro vision software is intelligent enough to ignore uncritical changes in appearance and concentrate on the critical characteristics on which product acceptance depends. AGS Engineering, the company responsible for the process design, chose VisionPro because the software satisfied the requirements associated with modular design. VisionPro allowed the process experts to implement the critical application of the software solution tailored to individual requirements. In addition, VisionPro performance tools do not use expensive image pre-processing for the final solution. This accelerates application development for the vision engineer and reduces life cycle costs. The Drag and Drop connection between the individual tools guarantees a rapid transmission of values. Intelligent software equipment positions tools dynamically and thus simplifies their settings.
Vision system is a complete success
In the second camera tunnel the B&R system eliminates 100% of errors in the automatic labeling process - providing customers an enormous time savings. The vision system checks the labeling terminal block by terminal block. The system verifies whether or not the position, signage and signage color are correct on the labels. Each individual value of the several hundreds of labels per each control is compared with the values saved in the vision system software. Only when all positions are identified as correct by the system will the release and transfer of the finished coded product be assumed in SAP.
The B&R system has a detailed test sample for every type of control, which can be called up automatically during product changeovers. This makes product testing by the vision system a complete success. This new system for controlled manufacturing shows how the most modern vision technology from Cognex completely supports this highly complex production processes. VisionPro software helps deliver 100% error free products regardless of how many pieces are produced.