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Could you give us a brief overview of Balluff?
Balluff is a German-based company that offers vision solutions across the globe. We have been in the market for around a century now. Gebhard Balluff kept the foundation of the family-owned business with a small mechanical repair workshop for bicycles, motorcycles, and sewing machines in 1921. The workshop then developed into a company for precision, turned and milled parts. Over the generations, the company evolved from manufacturing precision mechanical products, control engineering technology, RFID systems to linear transducers, sensors, machine vision technology, and industrial networking and connectivity with IO-Link.
Please elaborate on how your solutions are panning out according to the industry trends and challenges in the U.S. market.
We are trying to be a part of the entire build process. We can advance the U.S. market with our industrial connectorization and IO-Link devices. Via IO-Link, machine mount I/O blocks allow the exchange of parameters, process, and diagnostic data with a variety of controllers without an individual getting into a panel or wiring a device up. Additionally, IO-Link is expandable and configurable with unlimited possibilities.
When it comes to vision products, Balluff is a leader in various markets and recently acquired a company called Matrix Vision for further enhancing vision systems. Matrix Vision delivers a variety of intelligent cameras, industrial cameras, vision sensors, frame grabbers, embedded systems, and software in the industrial image processing sector. It allows us to extend our comprehensive portfolio in camera-based sensor systems and software development capacities. In essence, industrial IO, RFID, connectorization, and vision technology complete the package of the higher-end solutions for maximum quality and high flexibility in modern production.
What are the challenges that your clients are facing today in terms of the production process, and how do you solve them?
The end products are becoming more complex, and the need for quality and scalability has also risen. From a rudimentary process of creating these products that include humans who can make mistakes, production has moved to machine-based operations eliminating the chances of errors.
The key differentiating factor is our cost-effective solutions. Our advantage in the market is affordability, functionality, and support.
Could you elaborate more on the benefits of your vision systems?
Our vision systems are intuitive. We have a vast range of products that handle a wide gamut of applications. We have a device called the BVS SC SmartCamera that can be used in six or seven different ways with various tools, functionalities, and color. It also allows control of IO-Link products. The BVS SC for machine vision is simple as well as flexible to use and can be quickly integrated into the sequence with its software-assisted operations. It offers various functions such as traceability, quality control, and visually solving positioning tasks along with integrated test preparation, inspection overview, and statistics. Balluff’s IP67 intelligent power supply is highly energy-efficient, durable, and shock-resistant. It can handle an average of 60 to 70 percent of roughest applications.
Additionally, multi-camera systems can be extended in terms of high-end functionality, speed, and higher resolution. Our industrial cameras can be put into an industrial controller and deployed using the integrated BVS Cockpit software. With interfaces such as GigE Vision and USB3, our cameras can be conveniently incorporated into any network. Further, with our industrial controller, multiple cameras can be connected at the same time, which enables customers to inspect from various angles. Additionally, clients can customize the functionality of our affordable industrial camera as per their needs.
It has several applications such as machine mount distributed I/O, vision inspection, barcodes inspection, and the ability to offload data without slowing down the industrial communication protocol.
Could you elaborate on the BVS Cockpit software and its functionalities?
The toolsets within BVS Cockpit enable clients to dig deeper and address the issues that they want to solve. The tools handle the basic vision applications—barcode, OCR, find object, check object, measure object, check focus and brightness, and many more. Based on HALCON technology, BVS Cockpit software caters to the needs of those clients who require more capabilities and eliminates the requirement for advanced knowledge of machine vision software or managing multiple software applications. Without any need for additional software, the BVS Cockpit allows clients to configure and operate Balluff SmartCameras and industrial cameras with SmartVision. Along with cameras, BVS Cockpit delivers intelligent, easy-to-use vision tools as well as functions to monitor and control every aspect of machine vision systems. BVS Cockpit user interface includes all functions to set up and operate the cameras and can be easily accessed from any web browser using a local network. BVS Cockpit is capable of reliably performing tasks such as error-proofing, vision-guided robotics collaboration, and tracing, and it does itmuch faster than sensors.
What are the main factors that differentiate Balluff from its competitors?
We have the entire team of engineers in Germany and the United Statesat our disposal to deliver application or software capabilities. In the U.S. as a technical sales specialist for machine vision, I am responsible for growing our market share of machine vision within the states. Moreover, we continuously educate distributors, partners, and customers to use our software and solutions. When it comes to our technical support capabilities, there is no dead-end. We are extremely resourceful and collaborative with several specialists and engineers at various locations who specialize in supporting the vision products. If there are any issues or high-level applications that need to be resolved, we can pull in all the resources anytime. However, the key differentiating factor is our cost-effective solutions. Our advantage in the market is affordability, functionality, and support.
How does the roadmap look like for Balluff?
Our company is looking at bridging the gaps within the vision market with our BVS Cockpit software. Early next year, we will be bringing out a lower-level vision sensor for go-no-go barcode scenarios where they might not need all the horsepower in the industrial camera solutions. Our customers can take advantage of this new product using the same software. We are keeping it simple across all levels of our platform. The industrial space is using vision sensors and industrial or smart cameras to replace physical or “non-contact sensors,” or capacitive ones. The smarter the machines get, the more need there will be for “Machine Vision” and hence, more opportunity for us.