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3D vision enabling enhanced bin-picking

Dec. 2, 2020
3D vision allows the system to detect more challenging objects in the field of view.

3D imaging is increasingly being used in the industrial space. Here we chat with Fernando Callejon, Omron Automation Americas’ vision & laser marker product manager, on trends in 3D vision in the industrial space, the benefits of this approach in relation to bin-picking. Take a look…

Smart Industry: What is 3D vision and how is it changing? Where are areas of increased application in the industrial space?

Fernando: In comparison with 2D systems, 3D vision contributes more information to the image file that allows the system to detect more challenging objects in the field of view. In the industrial space, the use of 3D imaging has increased on multiple areas, including profiling and measurement. But one area that particularly stands out is bin-picking. The technology is advancing in areas of combining 2D and 3D capabilities in a single system, so we can identify bins (via 2D codes, for example) and pick from multiple bins instead of just one.

Advancements have also been made regarding the flexibility of new cameras that can be mounted on robotic arms thanks to their light weight and robust design. This simplifies cell design and makes it possible to pick any parts within the robotic arm’s reach, rather than just within a fixed field of view (as would be the case with top-mounted cameras). It also allows the cameras to acquire images in different angles, which facilitates the picking of challenging parts inside the bins.

Smart Industry: How do you define bin-picking in this sense? What items are we talking about?

Fernando: Bin-picking applies to parts of the manufacturing process where components from the supply chain come to the assembly process inside of a bin. Normally an operator would have to pick and sort them for the next assembly process, or an automated system (perhaps a robot) would dump them onto a conveyor to organize them for the next phase. The leading industry for this process is automotive due to its wide variation in part size, with the majority falling within the range of 10mm to 150mm during the pre-assembly part of the process.

Smart Industry: How is 3D vision changing automated bin-picking?

Fernando: The use of a 3D camera plus a robot automates the process of picking parts from bins and placing them, already sorted, on a conveyor for the next assembly process. This makes it possible to eliminate repetitive (and even dangerous) tasks from operators’ workloads and provide consistency and even full traceability control when loading parts onto the manufacturing lines.