“Despite the major challenge of automatically recognizing more than 100 components for these pick-and-place tasks, thanks to using robot vision for machine tending processes we solved the issue in a highly satisfactory manner – and provided our customer with the perfect solution.“

Olav K. Sjørslev, Sales Manager at QRS

Robot Vision for Machine Tending - with No Manual Intervention

How adding a robot vision component enables precise pick-and-place for automated machine tending with 100+ different parts

As personel is becoming increasingly scarce, supply chains increasingly complex and shopfloor space increasingly costly, the ability to efficiently automate low-value-add tasks such as machine tending with little to no manual intervention in the necessary pick-and-place process is becoming a competitive advantage across industries.

At Danfoss, a Danish manufacturer of mobile hydraulics as well as electronic and electrical components, robotic systems equipped with 3D robot vision sensors now reliably and precisely recognize and move a large number of different components.

In the new production line implemented by Danish integrator Quality Robot Systems (QRS), a total of six KUKA robots take over work steps that were previously performed manually. For this, the robotic cells must recognize and move up to 100 different components with no manual intervention.

The Challenge: Machine Tending with a Large Variety of Parts

“The requirement for the robotic cells at Danfoss was a fully automatic feeding of the components with no manual intervention. Obviously, this task can only be solved with a robot vision system, given the large number of variations,” explains Olav K. Sjørslev, Sales Manager at KUKA integration partner QRS.

The alternative, namely feeding the blanks meticulously ordered and aligned, was simply not economically feasible.

Instead, the objects arrive at the first robot station in standard roll boxes. They are sorted by box, however, the boxes are stacked on top of each other more or less indiscriminately. Furthermore, paper sheets seperate the layers of objects.

The Solution: Robot Vision for Machine Tending - with a System that Really Works

To meet the challenges of object recognition, QRS benefited from its close partnership with KUKA. For when it comes to robot vision systems, pick-and-place requirements and object recognition, KUKA turns to its Munich-based partner Roboception and their rc_visard 3D stereo sensor.

At Danfoss, the rc_visard (using the SilhouetteMatch software), reliably detects the position and orientation of the flat, unordered objects on the flat paper surface. It also provides the robot with the grasp points for the pick-and-place process at the same time.

A 2D solution was quickly ruled out for this machine tending project: The paper slipsheets are not always completely flat, or may be oily due to the components. In tests with other systems, the camera had sometimes misinterpreted imprints as workpieces. SilhouetteMatch, on the other hand, recognizes exactly which components are supplied to the robotic cell. It reliably transmits the appropriate grasp points for a KR CYBERTECH from KUKA.

“Before this project, our experience with camera systems in the past was not particularly good. We looked into various systems over the past decade, but did not find a single 3D vision solution that met our needs.

What works at a trade fair or in a manufacturer’s demonstration room is often not viable under real-world conditions.”

Olav K. Sjorslev
Sales Manager at QRS Quality Robot Systems

About Quality Robot Systems (QRS)

Quality Robot Systems (QRS) is a Danish KUKA System Partner and expert in industrial robotic automation that can take care of everything from the initial planning and design to the delivery, installation and servicing of a new robot cell. About 35 employees work from headquarters in Vissenbjerg and on-site at customer sites throughout Denmark. A large subcontractor base helps create and supply peripheral equipment for the automation systems.

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Build Your Robot Vision System

The rc_visard 160 is ideally suited for static mounting above a workspace: It is designed for viewing distances of more than 50 cm.

The rc_randomdot pattern projector enhances the setup for ideal detection results even for the more tricky objects. It ensures a reliable detection in all lighting conditions.

This software module enables the rc_visard to determine position and orientation of comparatively flat objects that are positioned on a plane. It is perfectly suited for this challenging application.

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