Editorial missed the mark

As a member of the board of directors of the Automated Imaging Association and the owner of a company that specializes in machine vision systems integration, I have followed closely Vision Systems Design since its inception a few months ago. On the whole I must say that I have been pleased with the magazine.

Editorial missed the mark

David Dechow, President

Insight Integration

Lansing, MI 48911

E-mail: insighti@sojourn.com

As a member of the board of directors of the Automated Imaging Association and the owner of a company that specializes in machine vision systems integration, I have followed closely Vision Systems Design since its inception a few months ago. On the whole I must say that I have been pleased with the magazine.

I am writing to you today about your December "My View" editorial. The topic "Machine vision--more than a pass/fail decision" was right on target. However, the content of the presentation really missed the mark and certainly must have left many readers at best confused and at worst completely misinformed about machine vision systems integration.

My principal complaint is the premise that there even is such a thing as a "low-cost" machine vision system as described in the article. There is no combination of PC, frame grabber, camera, and free software anywhere that could be combined to make a viable, on-line, production machine vision system for $1500. Even if you could purchase them at that price (highly doubtful), those components do not make up a complete system. You also will need optics, lighting, cables, digital I/O, electrical interconnection, enclosures and mounting hardware.

Further, the article failed to note the most important part of--and the real cost of--integration, the engineering. Your caller would find that the labor in the design, building, programming, testing, and installation of his machine vision system would end up costing many times more than the base cost of the hardware alone. Since we may assume that the caller is responsible for the actual production of stepladders at his company, the cost of his system goes up even more when we factor in lost productivity while he is busy trying to get his supposedly low-cost system to work.

The article touched briefly on pay-back in the form of intangible benefits like the reduction of recalls and product liability. However, the real payback for your reader is more tangible and very compelling and should have been noted. The mislocated parts cause a jam in an automated process that results in a day of downtime and possible machine repair. If a fully integrated ($10,000-$30,000+) machine vision solution eliminated just one such occurrence, it might pay for itself in just one day, a truly amazing payback period for any piece of equipment!

Real machine vision must begin with the competent implementation and integration of the correct components to perform an inspection task. The integration of graphics and production management systems can be an important part of a complete inspection solution. However, the reader needs to know that his problem probably can not and should not be solved for $1500 and that successful machine vision must start with a solid, fully integrated foundation.

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