Vision in Action

Vision In Action is the highly popular newsletter from the UKIVA. Published twice a year, Vision in Action contains a wide range of members’ stories about latest technology and developments in Vision, with an increasing emphasis on real-life applications. Each issue devotes its front page and a centre-page spread to a special focus topic, chosen for its particular importance in the vision industry.

The special focus for the Spring 2017 issue sees the 25th anniversary of the UKIVA and what a time it has been! Back in 1992 the use of machine vision was very much in its infancy and theAssociation set outto educate industry aboutthe benefits vision could bring. Since then the vision industry has taken on a life of its own with a myriad of technological developments that have transformed the vision landscape.

To celebrate this, the UKIVA’s first ever Machine Vision Conference and Exhibition, held at the Arena MK (Milton Keynes, UK) on April 27th 2017, combines 50 educational vision seminars, 2 keynote addresses and an exhibition featuring over 45 of the world’s leading companies operating in the field of vision to illustrate the extraordinary relevance that vision technology has to everyday life.

Topics covered - Spring 2017

  • Members News (4-11)
  • Members Directory (12)
  • 25 Years of Vision (15-18)
  • Application Articles (21-29)
  • Events, Training, Technical Tips (30)

 

Both the Spring and Autumn 2017 issues of Vision in Action will be freely available during the PPMA Show – make sure you drop by the PPMA stand and pick up your copies!

 

Vision in Action Spring 2017

VIA Spring 2017

This is my first contribution to Vision in Action as Chairman of the UKIVA and it is a privilege to take over at the time of the Association’s 25th anniversary. Many of our members have been involved in this industry through this entire period and I’d like
to congratulate all those who have recently enjoyed or are about to celebrate milestones of their own.

These are particularly exciting times for the Association as our 25th anniversary coincides with our first Machine Vision Conference. This has been a major undertaking, since establishing an event such as this from scratch requires a concerted effort from many people. The Conference organising committee and the experienced team at the PPMA have worked very hard to make the event a reality.

I’d like to thank Ian Alderton, who has just stepped down as UKIVA Chairman after 2 years in the role. He has worked tirelessly during his tenure to help the Association move forward. I’d also like to congratulate Allan Anderson from Clearview Imaging who has taken over as Vice-Chairman for the next 2 years and welcome Alastair Slater from Allied Vision, Tim Irons from Dimaco and Chris Pitt from Stemmer Imaging who have joined the UKIVA committee. I’m sure that we will benefit from their insights and contributions.

While it is obviously too early to assess the full implications of Brexit for the UK vision market, it is certainly true that the weaker pound has led to price rises for many vision components. Nevertheless the VISION Show held in Stuttgart last November was bigger than ever with a strong attendance from the UK and we have been hugely encouraged by the response we have had by UKIVA members and non-members alike to participate in our Machine Vision Conference. Not only that but we have had to increase the space for the associated exhibition by 50% to accommodate the number of bookings we have received. There are plenty of indications that the vision market in the UK is still healthy and we enter the next 25 years for the UKIVA with a very positive outlook!

Paul Wilson, UKIVA Chairman

Vision in Action Autumn 2016

VIA Autumn 2016

The question uppermost in any UK business at the moment is ‘What effect will Brexit have’ and of course the vision industry is no different. However, the UKIVA is taking a positive step to further stimulate interest in the vision industry in the UK with the announcement that it will be holding its first ever UKIVA Machine Vision Conference & Exhibition (MVC) at ArenaMK in April 2017 – but more of that later.

After the turmoil of the changes in government personnel in the aftermath of the referendum result, things seem to be stabilising more in the country as a whole. One thing we do know for certain is that the value of the pound has dropped significantly against both the dollar and euro. This is detrimental for the UK vision market as there is only a very small manufacturing base and more than 90% of vision components are imported. However, around 70% of UK vision revenue comes from vision solutions and integration projects. In these cases, the vision components can be a comparatively small proportion of the total project cost and so any exchange-rate induced increases have relatively little impact on the overall cost. On the other hand, for the small UK vision manufacturing sector that generally relies heavily on export business, the falling pound has a positive effect.

Fortunately, there are a number of important exhibitions in the next few weeks which will provide a good indicator of the mood of the post referendum vision market. The UKIVA Machine Vision Conference & Exhibition (MVC) is an exciting new event with the emphasis on a rich program of educational vision seminars. You will find more details elsewhere in this issue of Vision in Action, but please make sure that you bookmark the date as it promises to be a major event in the UK dedicated to machine vision. Before that, however, we have the PPMA Total Show at the NEC 27 – 29 September, Photonex at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry 12 – 13 October and VISION Stuttgart, 8 - 10 November. We hope for a positive response from all of these events!

 

Ian Alderton, UKIVA Chairman

Vision in Action Spring 2016

VIA Spring 2016

Measurement was one of the first applications of machine vision. With the correct setup of lighting and lens you can get a good high contrast image and calibrate the pixels to real world co-ordinates. The system will then run for any length of production cycle, giving consistent, calibrated results. This releases the operator to work more efficiently, thus increasing productivity and creating jobs. But over recent years the cost of an entry level camera has decreased and higher resolution and higher speed systems, especially with the new CMOS sensors, have become more affordable, opening up even more applications. Also improvements in LED lighting have reduced the power consumption and heat produced during inspection, reducing the overall system power costs.

I’d like to take this opportunity, on behalf of UKIVA members, to welcome Dr Andrew
Mint as the new CEO of the PPMA Group. Andrew brings extensive experience in production innovation, market development and international development to the role. He has established a successful career in the process industries developing cosmetics for major blue-chip companies as well as managing many significant large global businesses, helping to launch new products and novel technologies into the marketplace. He also has significant FMCG experience having undertaken various technical roles at Procter & Gamble amongst others. We wish him every success in his new role.

Finally, I’d like to encourage readers to consider submitting an entry for the ‘Most Innovative Machine Vision Project’ – one of the PPMA Group Industry Awards. This award is judged by a fully independent panel of industry specialists and is not restricted to UKIVA members. It is open to all vision equipment suppliers, system integrators or end users that have installed an innovative vision system, with recognition for all parties involved in the project. In 2015, the award was won by Multipix Imaging and systems integrator, MVT Ltd, with a measurement system for pharmaceutical tablet tracking and inspection – more details elsewhere in this issue. Details on how to enter will be published on the PPMA Total show website, www.ppmatotalshow.co.uk/awards

 

Ian Alderton, UKIVA Chairman

Vision in Action Autumn 2015

VIA Autumn 2015

The UK is behind the rest of Europe in using Vision and general automation in production. Whilst some people think that bringing in Automation is a threat to jobs, it has been proven to actually increase employment and the skill level of employees as well as productivity and quality.

End of line inspection is one of the most important uses of vision in manufacturing industry with applications on both manufacturing and packaging lines. The combination of vision technology developments and the emergence of specialist vision systems integrators make the use of vision much more practicable. Manufacturers and component suppliers across a broad spectrum of industries rely increasingly on leading-edge vision technology to provide automated quality control and rejection of out-of-spec product.

Machine vision can generate a lot of useful data at all stages of a manufacturing process, not just as a final quality control. This data can be used to identify any problems before the product goes out of tolerance allowing adjustments to be made to the process leading to a reduction in the number of production faults, hence improving the bottom line and generating a quicker return on investment.

You can see and discuss with our members what their systems and products can do for you at two shows this Autumn. These include our own PPMA Show where there has been an increase in UKIVA members exhibiting from 9 last year to 19 this year. We will also be supporting Photonex where we are pleased to be running our most ambitious series of seminars on the latest technology and applications involving vision. There are more details on these elsewhere in this issue.

I look forward to meeting you at both of these events.

 

Ian Alderton, UKIVA Chairman

Vision in Action Spring 2015

VIA Spring 2015

In my first contribution to Vision in Action since being elected as Chairman of UKIVA in January, I am delighted to report that this is the largest ever issue at 32 pages. In just one year it has grown from 24 pages to its present size, reflecting not only on the growing membership of the Association (now totaling over 30), but also on the wealth of expertise and experience that they have to offer, and the enthusiasm that the Association continues to have to promote the use of vision. Take a look through this issue and you will see a varied range of applications where vision has been able to solve customers’ real world needs.

We have continued the theme of giving a special focus to one particular aspect of vision technology in each issue of Vision in Action. This time we are looking at line scan technology and how recent developments have not only impacted on traditional web inspection applications, but also on a wide range of other applications. I hope you find these articles both interesting and informative.

I am delighted to have been elected as Chairman of UKIVA. Alrad Imaging has been a member of this prestigious organisation for some 20 years and it is the second time a member of the company has been appointed chairman, Geoff Smith holding the office from 1997 - 1999. I would like to take this opportunity to thank my predecessor, Mark Williamson for his outstanding contribution in the role over the last 13 years, which included helping to steer the Association through its transition from an independent organisation to becoming a Special Interest Group of the PPMA Group of Associations. Mark has done a great job and his experience and stature in the industry has ensured continuity through the many changes, including the passing of founder member, Don Braggins. I am delighted that he will remain an active of the committee and that he continues to be a director of the main PPMA board.

As you will see elsewhere in this issue, we have also restructured the UKIVA committee, increasing its size and bringing in some of the newer members and with the resources from the PPMA that we have at our disposal, I look forward to the next phase of the Association’s development.

 

Ian Alderton, UKIVA Chairman

Vision in Action Autumn 2014

VIA Autumn 2014

In 1957 the first computer scanner was used to record a 176 x 176 pixel image from a photograph of the son of its inventor, Russell A Kirsch, at the National Bureau of Standards (now known as the National Institute of Standards and Technology) in the USA. Today’s multi-billion pound machine vision industry has come a long way from these humble beginnings of computer vision. Most industries experience highs and lows due to a variety of factors, yet in spite of the difficult economic conditions that have prevailed in recent years, the machine vision industry continues to flourish and I am delighted to see significant growth being reported in the UK vision market.

A survey for 2013 recently published by the VDMA in Germany (one of the largest and most important industrial associations in Europe) showed that the total sales of machine vision components and systems from European companies into the UK was second only to Germany across the EU. Not only that, but the growth of machine vision sales in the UK was the greatest in the EU, rising by an impressive 23.2% during this period. Many UKIVA members are distributors for European machine vision companies and so have been instrumental in achieving these sales and yet these figures relate only to the vision components and systems sold. Many UKIVA members who are vision systems integrators will also have benefitted from this period of growth with the added value they offer in terms of integrating vision technology into manufacturing environments and OEM equipment.

This increased activity by UKIVA members is reflected in this issue of Vision in Action, which is even bigger than our Spring issue which broke all previous records. We welcome another 2 new members, Industrial Vision Systems and Bytronic Automation who, together with the other members who joined us earlier in 2014, have helped UKIVA grow at its fastest rate this century. As well as the special feature on high-speed imaging, this issue contains eleven application articles showcasing the use of vision in a diverse range of industries. I hope you find the Autumn 2014 issue of Vision in Action both interesting and informative.


Mark Williamson, UKIVA Chairman

Vision in Action Spring 2014

VIA Spring 2014

Welcome to the largest ever issue of ‘Vision in Action’, which is packed with more editorial content than ever before. The particular focus on 3D imaging and applications in this issue is direct result of the growing interest in and improving affordability of 3D technology. Whilst many ‘3D’ problems can still be readily solved using 2D methods, the use of genuine 3D imaging solutions is definitely on the increase. We hope you enjoy this special feature.

We are delighted to welcome Acrovision, AlphaChase, IDS Imaging Development Systems and Scandinavian Machine Vision as new members to the Association. Growth in UKIVA membership is generally a positive indicator of the strength of the vision market in the UK, and indeed IDS has recently set up a dedicated UK office.

New UKIVA Statistics

As an Association, however, we are keen to quantify UK market trends, and although sources such as the AIA, VDMA and Frost & Sullivan all predict growth in machine vision sales worldwide, there are no hard and fast statistics available that relate solely to the vision market in the UK. To address this shortfall, we are in the process of collecting and collating sales data from UKIVA members, using a completely independent consultant in order to maintain data integrity for each member. This process has been undertaken for some time for BARA (British Automation and Robot Association), providing participating BARA members with an invaluable quarterly and annual benchmark of how the robotics industry in the UK is performing against their own sales. Providing equivalent information for the UK vision market will greatly benefit UKIVA members.


Mark Williamson, UKIVA Chairman

Vision in Action Autumn 2013

VIA Autumn 2013

UKIVA members and the vision community as a whole, frequently refer to vision as an 'enabling' technology. For this reason, it is now much less common for vision systems to be used in isolation – there is a very noticeable shift towards some level of integration of vision into a process or a piece of equipment. This fact is very evident in this issue of 'Vision in Action', which I am delighted to see is featuring more application stories than ever before. Applications are described from the automotive, food, pharmaceutical, retail, security, semiconductor and transport industries and all involve integration to a greater or lesser extent. In general, levels of integration are rising because of the push towards automation in the manufacturing industries coupled with the fact that it is easier technically and there has been a general reduction in unit costs for vision components.

From individual components with a choice of inputs and outputs, external triggers, industry standard data transfer protocols and easy to program inspection so aware, to smart cameras where the result of an inspection can be transferred over an Ethernet connection, the vision industry is now very much
geared towards lower cost integration. For complex integration projects there are dedicated vision systems integrators who make a living out of making integration work. However, the icing on the cake, as illustrated by one of our
application stories, is the fact that integration of vision with robots has become much easier, and the availability of affordable 3D vision has opened up an even greater range of applications.

Mark Williamson, UKIVA Chairman

Vision in Action Spring 2013

VIA Spring 2013

The first issue of 'Vision in Action' for 2013 sees UKIVA members concentrating on the more 'traditional' uses of vision for inspection applications in the manufacturing sector. Continuing developments in vision technology improve the speed, accuracy and complexity of measurements that can be made. Two new data transmission standards have recently emerged which will further extend the capabilities of machine vision.

The CoaXPress standard was developed especially for machine vision applications by a consortium of camera and frame grabber vendors. Utilising coaxial cable for data transmission, CoaXPress is characterized by its ability to transmit much more image data than the current Camera Link® and GigE Vision® interface standards, and over distances between 40m and 100m (without the need for repeaters) depending on data rates. The USB3 Vision standard makes use of the recently introduced USB3.0 interface for the mass market. Improved data transfer rates of up to 400 Mbyte/s and the fact that no framegrabber is required has led to a wide range of low cost USB 3.0 cameras coming to market.

These new standards will no doubt open up new applications for vision as well as allowing improved performance in current applications. UKIVA members who are vision technology suppliers and vision systems integrators will be in an excellent position to guide end-users and OEMs to the optimum solution. They can offer experience with either their own CoaXPress or USB 3.0 products or products from the world's leading manufacturers so they will be happy to advise potential users on the best route to take.

Finally, congratulations go to Olmec UK who won the inaugural UKIVA award for 'Most Innovative Machine Vision Project'. This was for the development of a vision system for the final inspection of ear drop dispensers prior to packaging at Thornton & Ross, the largest independent manufacturer of 'over the counter' healthcare products in the UK. This year's award winners will be announced on June 4.

Mark Williamson, UKIVA Chairman

Vision in Action Autumn 2012

VIA Aunumn 2012

The latest issue of our new-look newsletter sees the UKIVA celebrating its 20th anniversary. 2012 also sees a number of other milestone anniversaries. The PPMA itself celebrates its 25th anniversary and we congratulate several of our members: Framos 30 years, MultiPix 15 years, Omron 20 years and STEMMER IMAGING 15 years in the UK, 25 years in Europe. As we move into our 21st year, we have reviewed our membership categories to reflect the changing face of the industrial vision industry in the UK and to help existing members, potential new members and vision customers alike.

In our last issue, we highlighted the use of vision in applications away from the traditional industrial environment, and this theme continues here with an interesting article from National Instruments where visitors to the Chelsea Flower Show were able to view plants as a bee would see them, while STEMMER IMAGING highlights the use of vision in sport with analysis of golf ball movement during putting. For some of the more traditional applications the dairy industry has proved popular in this issue. Baumer describe a system to check the presence of straws on milk cartons, SICK UK have a system for inspecting plastic milk bottles and MultiPix Imaging report on the inspection of milk bottle caps! Getting closer to the dairy product itself, Cognex tell us about Datamatrix readers for caesin labels used on cheese products. Olmec-UK have designed a bister inspection system for use in an existing process line and Framos and are involved in a project to monitor material flow using cameras attached to fork liW trucks.

At the time of writing, the finalists for the UKIVA's first UK-based award have been revealed, and the announcement of the winner of 'Most Innovative Machine Vision Project' on September 27th is eagerly anticipated! The autumn period is a busy one for exhibitions, with the PPMA Show and Photonex in the UK and the Vision Show in Germany. Many of ourmembers will be busy at one ormore of these shows and they provide a great opportunity for face-to-face meetings.

Mark Williamson, UKIVA Chairman

Vision in Action Spring 2012

VIA Spring 2012

Welcome to the new style UKIVA Newsletter! We have restyled it to give more emphasis to members' activities and now have an exciting lead feature on the front page. We frequently forget just how widespread computer vision has become and the breadth of potential applications while we concentrate on our own niche.

The front page feature is an example of how computer vision can make a fundamental difference to life by helping to automate the diagnosis of bladder cancer and helping the blind 'to see'. In the members Application Stories we also hear how Panther Vision is developing a system to track a users gaze so that quadriplegics can interact with specialist computer soware and gain more independence. Other Application Stories may be more conventional but still address challenging tasks, such as that by RNA with a vision guided robot on a production line making plumbing parts.

It seems that there is always more regulation being imposed but for a change it has created an opportunity for UKIVA members Olmec and Cognex. They have both implemented vision based systems to track pharmaceutical products throughout the production process and to help companies meet stringent pharmaceutical product tracking regulations.

There have been a lot of news items from members and it's been hard to identify which ones to include. The UKIVA has announced the first UK based award for the 'Most Innovative Machine Vision Project' and the UWE is developing a new MSc in Advanced Automation, Machine Vision & Management. USB 3.0 has been talked about for a while and Stemmer has introduced a range of new USB 3.0 cameras that will give a distinct advantage in terms of data transfer speeds and easy integration. Multipix has new products that enable analogue cameras to be linked into GiGe camera networks which could benefit legacy systems.

As the UKIVA Technical Consultant I offer expert advice to members but also general advice to non-members and can help steer them to those most appropriate for their query so I encourage everybody to get in touch.

John Haddon, UKIVA Technical Consultant, technical@ukiva.org
Director, Panther Vision ltd