Why the Human Machine Interface (HMI) really does matter for vision systems.

Control systems are essential to the operation of any factory. They control how inputs from various sources interact to produce outputs, and they maintain the balance of those interactions so that everything runs smoothly. The best control systems can almost appear magical; with a few adjustments here and there, you can change the output of an entire production line without ever stopping. This is just as true for the vision inspection process and machinery.

The human machine interface (HMI) in a quality control vision system is important to provide feedback to production, monitor quality at speed and provide easy to see statistics and information. The software interface provides the operator with all information they need during production, guiding them through the process and providing instructions when needed. It also gives them access to a wide array of tools for adjusting cameras or other settings on the fly, as well as useful data such as machine performance reports.

If a product has been rejected by the inspection machine it may be some time before an operator or supervisor can review the data. If the machine is fully autonomous and communicates directly with the factory information system the data might be automatically sent to the factory servers or cloud for later recall – this is standard practice in most modern production facilities. But the inspection machine HMI can also provide an immediate ability to recall the vision image data, detailed information on the quality reject criteria and can be used to monitor shift statistics. It’s important that the HMI is clearly designed, with ergonomics and ease-of-use for the shop floor operator as the main driver. For vision systems and machine vision technology to be adopted you need the buy-in from operators, the maintenance team and line supervisors.

The layout of the operator interface is important to give immediate data and statistical information to the production team. It is important to have an interface that can be easily read from a distance, and displays the necessary information in a single screen. During high-speed inspection operations (such as medical device and pharmaceutical inspection operations) it is not possible to see every product inspected, that’s why a neatly designed vision system display, showing the last failed image, key data and statistical process control (SPC) information provides a ready interface for the operator to drill down on process specifics which may be affecting the quality of the product.

It’s clear why the HMI in quality control vision systems are so crucial to production operations. They help operators see important manufacturing inspection data when necessary, recommend adjustments on the fly, monitor production in real-time and provide useful data about performance all at once.

What are false failures in machine vision (and the art of reducing them.)

Over the last twenty plus years in the machine vision industry we’ve learnt a lot about customer expectation and the need to provide solutions which are robust, traceable and provide good value for money. One of the key elements of any installation or inspection machine is the mystical area of false failures of the vision system, and making sure this is reduced to the point of virtual elimination. A small change in the false failure rate in a positive direction can have a massive impact on yield, especially when the inspection takes place at 500 parts per minute!

For customer’s new to machine vision, it’s a concept they aren’t used to. The idea that you have to have a few false rejects events to happen in order to ensure that no false accepts take place. During the design phase of the vision set-up and inspection routine structure, we review a collection of “Good” parts as well as a pool of “Bad” parts. Statistically, this would imply an infinite number of each in order to calculate the set points for each measured feature. It is impossible to create an effective vision solution without this collection of components. We use various vision software methods to analyse all of the parts and features to create a collection of data sets using these good and bad parts.

This is where the system’s true feasibility will be determined. Once a vision tool has been created for any given feature, a population of data points will usually have some degree of uniqueness across the good and bad parts. If the data does not have two mutually exclusive distributions of results, some good parts must be rejected to ensure that no faulty parts are passed and allowed to continue to the customer. In other words, there is a cost to rejecting some good parts in order to ensure that a failed part is never sent to the customer.

You’ll notice that this chart explains the reasons for false rejections. More importantly, it emphasises that if a system is not rejecting good parts, it may be passing bad ones.

Of course, with all our years of experience in machine vision, we understand this issue – so all our systems and machines are designed so that there is enough difference between good and bad that the distributions are as distinct as possible, that’s the art. That is not so difficult to achieve in presence/absence type applications. It’s more difficult in gauging and metrology vision, where there’s some measurement uncertainty, and extremely difficult in surface flaw detection. Experience in the field of machine vision is everything when it comes to false failure reduction, and that’s what we provide you with our long-standing knowledge in vision systems.

How to run a Gauge R & R study for machine vision.

When you’re installing a vision system for a measuring task, don’t be caught out with the provider simply stating that the pixel calibration task is completed by dividing the number of pixels by the measurement value. This does provide a calibrated constant, but it’s not the whole story. There is so much more to precision gauging using machine vision. Measurement Systems Analysis (MSA) and in particular Gauge R&R studies are tests used to determine the accuracy of measurements. They are the de-facto standard in manufacturing quality control and metrology, and especially relevant for machine vision-based checking. Repeated measurements are used to determine variation and bias. Analysis of the measurement results may allow individual components of variation to be quantified. In MSA accuracy is considered to be the combination of trueness (bias) and precision (variation).

The three most crucial requirements of any vision gauging solution are repeatability, accuracy and precision. The variance of repeated measurements, or repeatability, refers to how near the measurements are to each other. The accuracy of the measurements refers to how close they are to the genuine value. The number of digits that can be read from the measurement gauge is known as precision.

A Gauge R & R (also known as Gage R & R) repeatability and reproducibility is defined as the process used to evaluate a gauging instrument’s accuracy by ensuring its measurements are repeatable and reproducible. The process includes taking a series of measurements to certify that the output is the same value as the input, and that the same measurements are obtained under the same operating conditions over a set duration.

The “repeatability” aspect of the GR&R technique is defined as the variation in measurement obtained:

– With one vision measurement system
– When used several times by the same operator
– When measuring an identical characteristic on the same part

The “reproducibility” aspect of the GR&R technique is the variation in the average of measurements made by different operators:

– Who are using the same vision inspection system
– When measuring the identical characteristic on the same part

Operator variation, or reproducibility, is estimated by determining the overall average for each appraiser and then finding the range by subtracting the smallest operator average from the largest.

So, it’s important that vision system measurements are checked against all of these aspects, so a bias test, process capability and gauge validation. The overall study should be performed as per MSA Reference Manual 2010 fourth edition.

More information on IVS gauging and measuring can be found here.

Why using vision systems to capture the cavity ID in injection moulded parts helps you stay ahead of the competition.

Machine vision systems are excellent at analysing products, capturing data and providing a large database of useful statistics for your operations and production manager to pore over. For products which are injection moulded we often get tasked with measuring key dimensions, gauging a spout or find the rogue short shot on a medical device. Normally this is at speed, with products running directly out of the Injection Moulding Machine (IMM), up a conveyor and into the vision input (normally a bowl feed, robot or conveyor), with the added bonus of images saved for reference as the automatic inspection takes place. If you’ve had a failure, it’s always a good idea to have the photo of the product to show to the quality team and for process control feedback. Let’s face it, the vision system is a goal keeper, and you need to feedback to the production team to help improve the process.

But what if the failure is intermittent and not always easy to capture? Your quality engineers may be scratching their heads, wondering why there is a product failure every now and then. Is there any way this can be tracked back to source? The neat answer is to complete cavity identification (ID) during the inspection process. The tooling for an IMM can include a cavity number so that each individual product has a unique reference. This is used for other forms of quality feedback, such as reviewing tool wear, tooling failures, short-shot imbalance and general troubleshooting for injection moulded products. So, if the cavity Identification number can be read at speed, saved and the data tracked against it, you start to see a picture of how your process is running, spikes in quality concerns related to a particular cavity, and ultimately full statistical process control of each tool cavity. Utilising precision optical character recognition allows vision systems to read each cavity number (or letter/or combination), to drill down the data to an individual cavity within the tool.

So next time the quality director comes down onto the shop floor asking what cavities are giving you problems, you’ll have all the data to hand (plus the photos to really wow them!).

Why bin picking is one of the most difficult vision system tasks (and how to overcome it!).

Autonomous bin picking, or the robotic selection of objects with random poses from a bin, is one of the most common robotic tasks, but it also poses some of the most difficult technological challenges. To be able to localise each part in a bin, navigate to it without colliding with its environment or other parts, pick it, and safely place it in another location in an aligned position – a robot must be equipped with exceptional vision and robotic intelligence.

Normally the 3D vision system scanner is mounted in a fixed, stationary position in the robotic cell, usually above and in-line with the bin. The scanner must not be moved in relation to the robot after the system has been calibrated. As a general rule of thumb, the more room is required for the bin picking application – including the space for robot movement, the size of the bin and parts, etc. – the larger model of the machine vision scanner required. So more resolution and pixels equates in simple terms to more precision and accuracy.

Calibration is completed with any suitable ball attached to the endpoint of the robotic arm or to the gripper. The ball needs to be made of a material that is appropriate for scanning, which means it needs to be smooth and not too reflective.

One of the problems with this approach is that the 3D vision system itself could cast a shadow on the bin and inhibit a high-quality acquisition of the scene. This problem is usually solved by making a compromise and finding the most optimal position for the scanner in relation to the bin or by manually rearranging the parts within the bin so that the vision system captures them all in the end. But is there another way?

A way to overcome this is to mount the 3D vision system on the robot itself. Of course, there are certain prerequisites to this approach (i.e. the robot can cope with the additional weight, there is room for mounting and there is cycle time available for movement), but there is some functional advantages to this approach.

For a successful calibration, the scanner must be mounted behind the very last joint (e.g. on the gripper). Any changes made to the scanner’s position after the calibration renders the calibration matrix invalid and the whole calibration procedure must be carried out again. This sort of calibration is done with a marker pattern – a flat sheet of paper (or another material) with a special pattern recognized the 3D vision system.

So what are the advantages? Well, you can’t scan your large bin with a smaller (and so lower cost) vision system scanner, because your scanner is mounted above it and its view is fixed. A small scanner mounted directly on the robotic arm allows you to get closer to the bin and choose which part of it to scan, thus potentially saving costs and helping with resolution.

Robotic mounted bin picking may also eradicate the need to darken the room where the robotic cell is located. The ambient light coming from a skylight might pose serious challenges to the deployed 3D vision system. A scanner attached to the robot can make scans of a bin from one side first and then from another, minimising the need to make any unusual adjustments to the environment.

It can also happen that the 3D vision system itself casts shadows on the bin and inhibits a high-quality acquisition of the scene. This problem is usually solved by making a compromise and finding the most optimal position for the scanner in relation to the bin or by manually rearranging the parts within the bin so that the vision system captures them all in the end. Robot mounted picking eliminates this problem as it enables the scanner to “look” at the scene from any angle and from any position.

In conclusion, there are many approaches to automated bin picking using 3D vision systems, each with their own unique approaches dependent on the environment, industrial automation needs, cost and the cycle time available for picking.

Industrial Vision Systems launches optical sorting machines to drive efficiency and minimise waste

Industrial Vision Systems (IVS), a supplier of inspection machines to industry, has launched a range of new optical sorting machines specifically for the high-speed sorting of small components such as fasteners, rings, plastic parts, washers, nuts, munitions and micro components. The devices provide automatic inspection, sorting, grading and classification of products at up to 600 parts per minute. The systems intercept and reject failed parts at high speed, discovering shifts in quality, and providing quality assurance through the production cycle.

The new Optical Sorting Machines from IVS utilise the latest vision inspection algorithms allowing manufacturers to focus on other activities while the fully automated sorting machines root out rogue products and make decisions on quality automatically. For classification checks, the systems use Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Deep Learning, providing the machines with an ability to “learn by example” and improve as more data is captured.

The glass disc of the machine provides 360-degree inspection enabling the system to act as the ‘eyes’ on the factory floor and record production trends and data. By intercepting and rejecting failed parts at high speed, it gives manufacturers the ability to provide 100% automatically inspected product to their customers, without human intervention.

With real-time data and comprehensive reporting to see defect rates, this enables engineers to immediately respond to problems and take corrective action before products are delivered to a customer.

Andrew Waller, director at Industrial Vision Systems, said: “Our machines allow manufacturers to stay ahead of their competitors. These new systems are designed for manufacturers of mass-produced, small products which previously would have struggled to sort quality concerns. We can perceive and detect defects others miss at high-speed. Our optical sorting technology takes vision inspection to the next level. Clear, ultra-high-definition images allow our new generation of systems to recognise even the hardest to spot flaws and to sort wrong batch parts. This allows our customers to achieve continuous yield reductions, categorise failures based on their attributes, and build better products.”

“Innovations in Pharmaceutical Technology” – IVS featured in leading international Pharmaceutical magazine.

The articles covers how traditional image processing techniques are being superseded by vision systems utilising deep learning and artificial intelligence in pharmaceutical manufacturing.

Pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers must be lean, with high-speeds, and an ability to switch product variants quickly and easily, all validated to ‘Good Automated Manufacturing Practice’ (GAMP). Most medical device production processes involve some degree of vision inspection, generally due to either validation requirements or speed constraints (a human operator will not keep up with the speed of production). Therefore, it is critical that these systems are robust, easy-to-understand and seamlessly integrate within the production control and factory information system.

Historically, such vision systems have used traditional machine vision algorithms to complete some everyday tasks: such as device measurement, surface inspection, label reading and component verification. Now, new “deep-learning” algorithms are available to provide an ability for the vision system to “learn”, based on samples shown to the system – thus allowing the quality control process to mirror how an operator learns the process. So, these two systems differ: the traditional system being a descriptive analysis, and the new deep learning systems based on predictive analytics.

Download the magazine from this link (Article Page 30):

Find more details on IVS solutions for the medical device and pharmaceutical industries here:

Industrial Vision Systems launches smart Ai vision sensors for high-speed inspection

Industrial Vision Systems (IVS®), a supplier of machine vision systems to industry, has launched the IVS-COMMAND-Ai™ in-line inspection solution designed for high-speed automated visual inspection, helping reduce manufacturer fines and protecting brand reputations. The IVS-COMMAND-Ai Vision Sensors integrate directly with all factory information and control systems, allowing complete part inspection, guidance, tracking and traceability with additional built-in image and data saving.

For those applications requiring complex classification, the IVS-COMMAND-Ai system utilises the latest deep learning artificial intelligence (ai) vision inspection algorithms. New multi-layered “bio-inspired” deep neural networks allow the latest IVS® machine vision solutions to mimic the human brain activity in learning a task, thus allowing vision systems to recognise images, perceive trends and understand subtle changes in images which represent defects.

Designed for complex manufacturing industries such as medical devices, pharmaceuticals, food & drink and automotive, the IVS-COMMAND-Ai Vision Systems are fitted with adaptable HD smart cameras to provide inspection from all angles and at high precision. This allows production lines to review and alert any flaws and defects in real-time, providing instant factory information on compatible devices. It also possesses speeds of up to 60 frames per second and can quickly be integrated on-line to inspect high speed and static products.

By achieving a robust inspection performance, the new IVS-COMMAND-Ai Vision Systems oversees complex vision inspections such as presence verification, OCR and gauging through to surface, defect and quality inspection in one solution. Comprehensive Statistical Process Control (SPC) data also provides closed-loop control to further safeguard production.

All IVS vision sensors can be integrated onto production lines, assembly cells, workbenches, robots and linear slides. Their robust design allows vision sensor integration into any industrial production process for seamless inspection, identification or guidance.

Earl Yardley, director at Industrial Vision Systems, comments: “Our vision systems are very easy to program, are highly accurate, offer easy maintenance and provide peace of mind in final quality acceptance. However, the IVS-COMMAND-Ai vision systems take it a step further. It is the complete, robust quality control inspection vision sensor solution, and it is ready to be deployed in all manufacturing environments. It will improve yield and deliver immediate improvements to product quality; and at these critical times, reliability and consistency are vital.”

Vision Sensors

IVS launches new features across vision inspection machines

Industrial Vision Systems Ltd (IVS), a supplier of quality control vision systems to industries including medical device, pharmaceuticals, automotive, food and electronics, is launching a series of new features across its full range of inspection machines. This innovative functionality, which includes multi-language support and updated inspection features, is designed to give manufacturers increased brand and warranty protection and to allow systems to be deployed in more diverse production environments.

IVS’s new multi-language support means the visualisation of process information can now be displayed in real-time between supported languages. These include English, Chinese, French, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish and Czech. To conform to the Machinery Directive of the European Union, languages can be switched during the automatic operation of the IVS system. This will benefit IVS’s growing international customer-base who are integrating its systems and machines in global locations, as well as UK manufacturers with a diverse ethnic workforce.

Inspection capability has also been upgraded. One such function is contour matching for enhanced verification. IVS now offers an improved integrated inspection capability that enables pattern matching using geometric contour features. The functionality allows more robust feature extraction, especially in environments of uneven illumination or obscured objects. This will help functions such as part verification, pattern recognition, label checking and robot positioning.
IVS has also introduced improved data handling across its full range of machines. As a result, large datasets of inspection data and images can now be visualised with live updates of information registers on the machine interface, allowing for faster feedback and control. This allows production and quality managers to have better information on the quality levels achieved in their factories. These advanced features are set to be rolled out across all IVS machines over the coming months.

Earl Yardley, Industrial Vision Systems Director, comments: “We are continuing to innovate and improve our product offering. The additional multi-language features benefit our customers by increasing productivity and allowing our vision system solutions to be deployed globally. Innovation is within our DNA. Our solutions continue to be developed on the very latest machine vision algorithms and industry-defining usability for automated visual inspection machines. These new features will benefit all the industry sectors we work in, from medical device manufacturers through to printing & packaging customers.”

Next Generation Machine Vision Cameras

IVS-NCGi Machine Vision Cameras

The next-generation IVS-NCGi range of digital cameras from Industrial Vision Systems provides a breakthrough in flexibility, performance and ease of use for machine vision inspection. With heightened resolution options for more precision and faster frame rates, the cameras are designed for integration into modern product processes. Its compact form factor easily fits into space constrained manufacturing lines and cells.

With manufacturers relying on dependable and consistent machine vision throughout the production process, these advanced camera heads provide industrial grade inspection capability with much higher resolutions allowing them to handle the most complex inspection and quality control tasks. Full integration with the IVS software platforms make it one of the most flexible vision systems on the market today.

The cameras come ready to be mounted with standard LED lighting options plus a wide range of field-changeable C-mount lenses and industrial autofocus lens options. The powerful IVS software platforms allow simple set-up and quick integration for inspection across all industry sectors. The cameras are ideally suited for presence verification, gauging, surface inspection and optical character recognition. In addition, the cameras fit the standard IVS-SVP IP65 rated housing for integration into food and harsh manufacturing environments.

The IVS-NCGi cameras offer comprehensive and real-time communication between the cameras and factory information systems. IVS vision systems are designed to communicate with all PLCs, master controllers and proprietary factory controls out of the box allowing rapid integration and easy commissioning on the production floor. They offer fast and efficient operation at every stage from image capture to data output.

IVS Brings A New Dimension To Quality Control With 3D Industrial Inspection

IVS has launched a range of vision systems for 3D vision operations in industrial environments. This series of products offers a wide range of powerful and flexible sensors, from single point displacement units to full 3D point cloud scanners. These products are designed for reliable operation in harsh industrial surroundings ensuring longevity and low maintenance.

The 3D vision systems introduced by IVS can also be used for many challenging inspection and guidance applications where traditional machine visions would struggle, such as assembly verification, robot pick and place, and precision 3D measurements. With these improved systems, manufacturers for industries such as food & drink, automotive, pharmaceutical, printing & packaging and electronics can receive quality data instantly, and at full production speed. The accurate, high-speed measurement avoids costly slowdowns or processing errors, ultimately unlocking higher profit margins.

3D Vision Systems

The advanced capability of the 3D systems, compared to conventional two-dimensional sensors, comes from their ability to measure size and position with extremely high accuracy – with resolutions down to micron level – regardless of an object’s height or colour. The sensors are able to capture 3D, scatter, and grayscale images simultaneously to produce a more robust and reliable vision control system, either through stand-alone sensors or complex engineered machines.

The IVS 3D products range from versatile high-speed cameras that deliver high quality 3D and contrast images to smart and configurable stand-alone sensors that facilitate rapid development.

“One of the biggest vision technology challenges manufacturers face is the integration of 3D cameras. This complex technology requires vision engineering at an extremely high level; something that we can provide. IVS have experience in integrating such systems in many factory environments and applications. These 3D machine vision systems provide factory calibrated 3D with built-in lighting which means they instantly provide precision results, thus making the integration easier for the customer.”

IVS is already successfully implementing the 3D technology into several inspection applications across a variety of industries, from automated height inspection through to pick & place robot control. With new 3D technologies in development IVS is well placed to provide the very latest vision system technology and solutions.

For further information on IVS’s 3D vision systems please visit:


New Automated Inspection Machine Offers Artificial Intelligence to the Food & Drink Industry

Industrial Vision Systems (IVS) has launched a new automated inspection and rejection machine that provides critical quality checks after the final packing process has been completed. The IVS-LAMi-P utilises state-of-the-art artificial intelligence machine vision technology, providing the user with automated high-speed and critical inspection tasks checking packs, labels, seal, print, size, defect and overall product quality.

Designed for ease of set-up and quick product changeover, the IVS-LAMi-P will automatically reject bad products which, in turn, reduces customer fines and enhances the bottom-line of a business. This also ensures a high level of quality leaves the factory floor from manufacturers representing the food and drink industry. The machine also comes with various options to suit the customer. This includes physical or air reject options; an optional link to scanners and factory information systems; the machines can also be custom designed to suit a business’s specific production needs.

Packaging Inspection Vision Inspection Machine

With optional multi vision sensors the machine can provide adaptable inspection from all sides of the product reducing the need for manual inspection providing a guarantee of product quality being delivered to customers.

The IVS-LAMi-P will fully inspect dates and codes; package size measurements; label placement and alignment; film colour verification; and print quality inspection. In addition, the machine also provides 1D and 2D code checking and saves both HD photos of rejected items along with statistical shift data and information for future reference.

The IVS-LAMi-P machine is fully designed to increase the bottom-line of a business by reducing customer fines and enhancing the quality of products leaving the factory floors, IVS have taken the very latest in AI technology and made it readily useable. Available to manufacturers in key industries such as food, drink, printing and packaging the machines have been developed with the very latest vision technology to replace human inspectors at the end of line. Quality control can now be fully automated given peace of mind to food producers. IVS are committed to continuously delivering products and services of the highest quality and greatest value to our customers which they can, in turn, pass on to their own customer-base.

Further details on the product can be found at: www.industrialvision.co.uk/products/packaging-label-inspection-machine