STUTTGART, GERMANY - There was a great response last year to the Application Park that was staged for the first time during Vision, a trade fair for machine vision and identification technologies held at the New Trade Fair Center of Stuttgart, Germany. Vision 2009, to be held November 3 to 5, will be supplemented this year by an Integration Area that will be situated around the Application Park in Hall 4. It will provide system integrators and solution suppliers with an attractive and clearly demarcated exhibition area.

“The aim of the Integration Area is to focus more on applications and solutions at Vision,” says Florian Niethammer, project manager of Messe Stuttgart. “Solution suppliers will be pleased,” adds Niethammer, “if the world’s leading trade fair creates a clearly discernible forum and therefore also appeals more to end users."

Application-specific systems still account for most of the turnover in system business in the German machine vision (MV) industry. Complex and demanding tasks will also have to be solved in many years in future. This does not actually appear so easy because “a successful system solution is more than just the sum of its parts,” says Hans Jürgen Christ, sales director of Isra Vision AG. “This includes solution competence and application experiences, as well as the certainty that a project can also be successfully implemented within budget,” adds Christ. According to Christ, the main elements of a system solution include the right selection of components as well as process know-how such as knowledge of system peripherals, interfaces and environmental conditions.

For example, robot vision applications need knowledge of the robot’s applications such as inaccuracy of temperature drift, especially when the cameras are mounted on the gripper of the robot. According to Christ, the suitable communication interface must also be determined and implemented, and a calibration method matching the application must be found. Christ added that, especially in the case of 3-D applications, it is necessary to select the ideal machine vision technology, for example photogrammetry, stereometry or triangulation.

“As a system supplier, we actually advise customers during the planning phase, monitor the project from installation through to acceptance and provide support and service when the system is operating,” says Christ. The company also develops its own components and systems, and will present its latest solutions at Vision 2009. Roy Dietsch, head of the Machine Vision Division of iiM AG, sees the task and advantage of a system integrator as “offering the end customer a problem-oriented solution in the area of machine vision from a single source.” The range of services of iiM AG extends from the selection, installation and connection of suitable sensors and peripherals through to the manufacture of complete automatic measuring machines and special machines.

However, the company’s services also include the development of corresponding visualization and statistical software. Dietsch says, “After clarifying the task over the phone, our customers send us in practice sample parts and a description of the task. If, for example, a robot picks up many different parts from a conveyor, it must know the component’s exact position and type. In this case we create the ideal system configuration which comprises components such as a camera system, lighting and optics, and integrate the system in the machine. After successful commissioning, our services include maintenance of the systems and training of the operators.” iiM AG will present a very bright lighting system based on LEDs (light emitting diodes) at Vision 2009.

According to Dietsch, this lighting system was developed specially for the solar industry and is equivalent to sunlight in terms of luminous intensity. “The advantages of LED lighting variants are their strong luminous intensity and long service life – these characteristics are extremely important in the industry,” emphasized Dietsch. As the above-mentioned examples show, a large number of companies operating as system integrators in the machine vision industry are also developing their own innovative components.

These companies include SmartRay GmbH which, “as a system integrator and competent partner in all areas of 3-D machine vision, offers solutions tailored towards users’ needs,“ says Mathias Reiter, managing director. SmartRay will present a new generation of 3-D smart cameras at Vision 2009. Accommodated in a compact housing, the 3-D system is based on the Intel ATOM processor and represents a complete PC with the Windows XP operating system.

In addition to the Application Park, the Integration Area is another step toward increasing the proportion of machine vision applications at Vision. This strategy will also be continued in future. The Application Park this year will feature additional highlights such as a VW Passat which is equipped with a laser system and machine vision technology, and will demonstrate how autonomous driving functions.

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