Vision guides steel sheets to press

Thyssen Umformtechnik + Guss (Bielefeld, Germany) makes body parts for several automotive manufacturers. At its Brackwede plant, the company forms a variety of parts from sheets of steel or aluminum measuring up to 1.2 mm thick. The sheets must be positioned accurately as they go into the forming press or risk producing unusable parts or damaging the press. Lubricants make tracking and handling the sheets difficult, according to Benedikt Laackman, head of body-parts production.

Jun 12th, 2006

Thyssen Umformtechnik + Guss (Bielefeld, Germany) makes body parts such as fenders and doors for several automotive manufacturers. At its Brackwede plant, the company forms a variety of parts from sheets of steel or aluminum measuring up to 1.2 mm thick. The sheets must be positioned very accurately as they go into the forming press or risk producing unusable parts or damaging the press. Lubricants on the conveyor belt, press, and the parts make tracking and handling the sheets especially difficult, according to Benedikt Laackman, head of body-parts production.

To guide the positioning of the sheets, system integrator VMT Bildverarbeitungssysteme (Weinheim, Germany; www.vmt-gmbh.com) worked with the factory engineers to develop a vision system that would identify each sheet and help a KR 60/P2 robot from KUKA Roboter (Augsburg, Germany; www.kuka-roboter.de) to place up to 4000 sheets a day in the press. The system relies on two CV-M50 cameras from JAI Camera Solutions (Glostrup, Denmark; www.jai.com), with no special lighting, to establish positional accuracy and inspect sheets that vary in length from 800 to 2500 mm.

The position of each sheet is calculated by a 350-MHz Pentium II system running Windows NT with a PX-610 PCI frame grabber from CyberOptics Semiconductor (Beaverton, OR, USA; www.imagenation.com), a CAN bus card connecting to the robot controller, and a 17-in. VGA monitor. VMT CEO Harald Mikeska says the software is a combination of VMT tools and Common Vision Blox from Stemmer Imaging (Puchheim, Germany; www.stemmer-imaging.de).

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