Vision system optimizes lumber processing

In order to develop a more efficient and productive lumber processing system that meets customer demands, Pleasant River Lumber decided to leverage vision technology at its Maine-based mill.

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In order to develop a more efficient and productive lumber processing system that meets customer demands, Pleasant River Lumber decided to leverage vision technology at its Maine-based mill.

Prior to the implementation of a vision system, Pleasant River Lumber’s original approach to lumber processing involved a worker deciding where to cut each log, which was a timely process that often involved wasted lumber, due to the inaccuracy of the manual log measurements. As a result, Pleasant River decided to contact local electrical engineering and system integration company Progress Engineering to implement a vision system that could optimize the process.

Progress Engineering developed a system that begins in the mill yard, where each individual log is evaluated by a vision system that captures images of the log. Six ceiling-mounted Teledyne DALSA Genie1600 area scan cameras work together to capture images of the log. Genie 1600 cameras are 1,600 x 1,200 pixel cameras with Sony CCD image sensors with 4.4 µm x 4.4 µm pixel size. The cameras feature a maximum frame rate of 15 fps, a GigE Vision format, and on-board color conversion. Images are captured by the cameras and stitched together using Teledyne DALSA’s GEVA industrial controller and Sherlock imaging software, according to Control Engineering.

Captured data is then communicated via Ethernet with a PLC optimization system, which integrates it with new "bucking system" equipment, including log singulators and saws. This part of the system analyzes the data from the vision system, determines the optimum location for each cut, and cuts each tree-length log in a fully-automated process.

Since the implementation of the vision system, which also features overhead LED lighting for illumination, Pleasant River Lumber is able to calculate the measurements of each log in about 7 seconds, or 9 logs per minute, which is about 10 times faster than the previous approach, according to Pleasant River partner Jason Brochu. In addition, the system is reportedly able to calculate the length and diameter of each log to accuracy within an inch.

"Investing in this new system was critical for Pleasant River Lumber to become more efficient, and to be highly efficient, we need to get the most usable material possible from each log," said partner Christopher Brochu in the Control Engineering article. "Raw material accounts for 70% of our total cost, so the more lumber each log generates, the more competitive we can be."

He added, "The new vision system begins the production process with "precise measurements of each log."

View the Control Engineering article.
View more information on Teledyne DALSA Genie cameras.

Also check out:
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2013 highlights in vision: Machine vision camera interfaces

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