Machine vision is a combination of hardware and software that provides operational guidance to devices that helps them execute their functions based on the images they capture in all industrial and non-industrial applications, according to the Automated Imaging Association (AIA). In simple words, the machine vision system is the ‘eyes’ of a machine. Although industrial computer vision uses the same algorithm as educational and governmental/ military applications, the constraints are completely different. Machine vision system is one of the ways to enhance quality, efficiency, and operations.
Machine vision systems began in the 1950s, but it caught momentum in the 1980s-1990s. Regardless of the industrial or non-industrial application, it’s the combination of hardware and software that makes machine vision systems work. The typical components for it to work are several such as sensors, cameras, software, and a computer capable of analyzing images, lighting sufficient for cameras to capture quality images and output such as a screen or mechanical components.
The process starts with the sensor detecting the presence of a product that triggers a light source, and the camera captures an image of the product or a part of the product. The frame-grabber, which is also a digitizing device, converts the camera’s image into digital format. After saving the digital file on a computer, the system software analyzes it by comparing it to file against a set of predetermined criteria to identify defects. Upon finding an error, the product fails the inspection.
Machine vision is used for quality purposes helping businesses in identification, inspection, guidance, and more. In addition to finding defective products, machine vision can help identify the root cause of defects in the production line to take corrective measures. It is also used in farming to monitor crops and detect diseases on plants. Machine vision is used in warehouses to read barcodes and labels on components and products, which is imperative for inventory control. Also, it is critical in the manufacturing landscape as it helps in ensuring that correct elements get added as the products move on the assembly line. The pharmaceutical industry leverages machine vision in tracking ingredients, product serial numbers, and monitor expiration dates. Further, it can be helpful on a construction site in improving safety by following heavy equipment. As this technology continues to grow, more industries will adopt it for its benefits.