Lenkbar and Our Cognex Vision System Abilities
Manufacturers are constantly searching for reliable and consistent solutions to everyday problems. It’s what manufacturing is based upon: solving problems; making things people want; and making them better.
When Lenkbar approached Absolute Machine Tools to help resolve and modernize a particular manufacturing process, our A+ Automation Team worked together to source the right equipment that not only fit their needs but budget as well.
Lenkbar is a medical design and manufacturing company located in Naples, Florida. Their mission is clear: to invent, design and manufacture revolutionary surgical devices and implants which simplify surgery for physicians and improve patient outcomes. This is a very tall order as the company must adhere to stringent requirements set forth by ISO 13485, FDA, OSHA, and the EPA.
Issues with Inspecting Tiny Parts
Lenkbar was having issues with parts deliveries and incorrect or missing features that were being marked on their products by lasers. The company was having issues in quality control because an abundance of their products are extremely tiny and hard to inspect.
Those working in quality control were performing checks on products that were too small for the human eye to read consistently. It’s one thing to look at something once, but to have to do it over and over again is not something the human eye can do quickly or for long periods of time. Lenkbar needed a solution.
An Automated Solution
Absolute’s A+ Automation Team designed an automated cell using a camera (vision system) and collaborative robot (cobot). Due to the parts complexity and rigorous requirements, we knew the vision system had to be as extremely accurate and have the ability to read micro markings on Lenkbar’s products. Our A+ Automation engineers chose a Cognex vision system using a D905M camera.
The next thing to consider was to choose the proper cobot to work in-sync with the vision system. Our team chose the OB7 Stretch from Productive Robotics. This cobot has a 1,250mm reach, can hold up to 4 kilograms, and has 7 axes. The 7th axis is important because it allows the cobot to be positioned off to the side so it does not block the machine door or work envelope. The 7th axis allows the cobot to “reach around” objects, allowing more flexibility with loading and unloading the CNC machine.
The OB7 Stretch is also an operator-friendly collaborative robot that is perfect for machine tending operations. Best of all, it’s one of the simplest collaborative robots on the market today. Simple and 7 axes — you can’t beat that!
Increase Product by Running “Lights Out”
The OB7 Stretch was programmed to service two separate laser marking machines and run “lights out” to increase production volume. The video in this blog demonstrates the OB7-Stretch cobot picking parts from a plate mounted to its worktable. Although the plate shown here is not loaded with parts, it clearly demonstrates how the gripper can be programmed to open a small distance to fit between parts staged in a tight grid-spacing style layout. This allows the operator to load lots of parts allowing for lights out production.
After the cobot picks the part, it then takes that part and loads it into a fixture on the laser machine. Once the part is loaded, the cobot will move to a clear safe position. Using one of the 8 ports on the standard I/O unit, the laser begins the marking process. The laser will mark the part and then orient it to the correct and final position for presentation to the camera. Once the part is complete, the laser machine sends an input signal to the cobot allowing it to enter the CNC machine and remove the part.
Once the cobot retrieves the part, it will then present it to the Cognex D905M camera system. The camera system was chosen because of its deep learning software capabilities on an AI integrated system inside the camera. Many dozen parts had to be run to properly set up the camera and teach it to decipher good and bad parts using Cognex’s Vidi Suite application. The data specifications learned allowed the camera the ability to give a rating score rating based on each new part presented to the camera system.
Evaluating the Part
Once the part is presented to the Cognex D905M camera and vision system, it will capture the image, evaluate the part markings based on criteria it learned in Vidi Suite, and assign a score based on how well it can read the part markings. A score is given to the part and compared against a quality scale that was determined prior to production. The camera system sends its scoring results through an input signal and directs the cobot to place the part in either the good bin or bad bin, and then the whole process starts all over again.
Through Cognex’s Vidi Suite, our automation engineer Marcus Knapp created a web-based HMI for the operator to visually depict important information derived from a particular picture taken of each part. This information goes into a spreadsheet where the operator can link cells to clearly display production data. Pictures taken of the parts will display simple color codes of green and red along with text and score ratings. All of this allows Lenkbar the ability to report and present data to their end-customers and other various entities for compliance purposes.
Get Help Finding Solutions for Your Manufacturing Problems
For more than 30 years, Absolute has provided cost-effective engineering solutions and comprehensive services to manufacturers in industries including aerospace, agriculture, automotive, construction, mining, energy, and medical. Contact our A+ Automation Team today to get help finding the right solutions for your needs.