Cameras are present in every day of our lives; Walking down the street the ‘CCTV’ on buildings is common place, driving where ‘speed/safety’ cameras are clearly evident and every modern model phone has a built-in camera. It is obvious these devices exist, they are an integral part of our lives today. However, very few people are aware that there are 100,000’s of camera being used behind the scenes in manufacturing plants world-wide. These industrial cameras, also known as machine vision cameras, are being used to inspect a vast range of products, from headache tablets to shampoo bottles to spark-plugs. The list goes on and covers industries like automotive, pharmaceutical, food and beverage, electronics, print and packaging.
So, what is an industrial camera? It is a camera which has been designed to high standards with repeatable performance and robust to withstand the demands of harsh industrial environments. These are commonly referred to as machine vision cameras as they are used on manufacturing processes for inspection/quality control.
Machine vision cameras typically conform to a defined standard such as Firewire, GigE Vision, CameraLink , USB and Coaxpress. The purposes of these standards are to facilitate ease of integration and to ensure future flexibility for camera upgrades.
There are two main types of cameras; area scan and line scan.
An area scan camera is a CCD/CMOS sensor in a 2D matrix of pixels. This results in an image consisting of pixels in the X and Y direction (ie a normal looking image as taken by your mobile phone). Industrial area scan camera run from 10’s to 100’s of frames per second.
With a line scan camera, the CCD/CMOS sensor typically contains only a single row of pixels. This means that the object to be captured must be moved under the line scan camera to ‘build’ a 2D matrix image. Line scan cameras run from 100’s to 1000’s of images per second are ideal for ‘web’ applications where products is being manufactured continuously such as paper and textiles and/or where the products are large in size.
Machine vision cameras can be combined with illumination, optics, image processing software and robots to create fully automated inspection solutions.
UKIVA members can offer further advice of the different camera formats and technology.