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Balluff SmartCamera-Intelligent Data Management Contributes To Stable Production Processes

Posted by Balluff on Jun 18, 2020 1:18:46 PM

Industry 4.0 - the smart, adaptive factory with short retooling times and decentralized control - aims to generate the most comprehensive data possible within a highly automated process in real-time and provide the most varied instances possible. This status information in the form of process data for control and monitoring of sequences and product data for traceability and quality verification form an objective basis for making decisions in order to take early measures for process optimization.


The information is delivered among other ways from numerous sensors in the system either automatically or on demand. In this simplest case this can be a switching sensor which only generates a status signal, while more complex components like the new Balluff SmartCamera run a variety of sophisticated inspection programs and thus provide a wealth of different information.


As part of this increasing digitizing the trend is from traditional fieldbuses like PROFIBUS or DeviceNet to Ethernet-based networks such as PROFINET or Ethernet IP. The easy to use SmartCamera is ideally designed for this trend and stands out with its intelligent data management capability. The inspection results can be flexibly visualized either directly on a status display like the Balluff SmartLight or output using individual switching outputs and through a process interface like PROFINET or TCP/IP.


The SmartCamera has another feature which makes it predestined for meeting the new challenges of Industry 4.0: it can be fully controlled over a TCP/IP or PROFINET network. The user can for example select the inspection program centrally – from a PC or PLC – and set process parameters such as the time stamp and inspection sequence number or call up diagnostics data.


In addition, inspection-specific data can be sent in various formats to the SmartCamera as they are needed for example in the test program as a reference, nominal value or other tool parameters. Freely selectable test results are sent to the controller ion the form of a so-called result container after each inspection cycle. Simple commands are all that are needed to start, stop and trigger an inspection. The status, e.g. inspection active, waiting for trigger signal, trigger overrun, system error, status of data bus synchronization, is provided cyclically.


Storing complete inspection reports on an FTP server in XML format together with the recorded image(s) is another interesting feature. The operator himself defines which reports and images he wants to store depending on the inspection result. He can not only track all inspections with their results, but also receive a gapless quality confirmation.


In addition, the integrated IO-Link master interface can be used to other system data from IO-Link devices and process them directly in the SmartCamera or send to the controller.


For system operators the process network (PROFINET) is of key importance. When there are faults or bottlenecks, this has a direct affect on the entire production process. This can cause problems especially in large network installations with many devices and large quantities of data.


This pertains for example to process data, i.e. analog and digital values which are obtained from a technical process using sensors. In robotics applications these are for example individual positions, in other cases only a recognized object type or sometimes just an OK signal.


With the SmartCamera the user is given a highly flexible tool. He alone can decide which data are sent to the SmartCamera in which format or to the controller after each inspection. He also determines over which networks the data should be sent.


The systems planner assumes an important role here, because he determines how large the amount of parameters or data can be sent to and from the SmartCamera. For example he can define that the results container for an identification task consists of just one 15-character barcode in string format and two position values (x and y) in real format. Other unneeded data are then not sent at all.


He must also take into account the amount of data generated: Whereas normal process data are only minimal, the image and report data for the quality verification which are generated after each inspection cycle generally exceed the MB range.


But the Balluff SmartCamera is well equipped for this. In contrast to devices from other manufacturers, which generally are compatible with only one bus interface, the SmartCamera is equipped with a Gigabit Ethernet and a 100 Mbit PROFINET interface. This offers a critical advantage: All it takes is a mouse click in the device settings and large report and image data are automatically passed through the fast interface to a storage server without putting the load on the PROFINET network. Of course it is still always possible to send the data as usual over the standard PROFINET interface.


The SmartCamera is equipped with a Gigabit Ethernet and a 100 Mbit PROFINET interface.

  Rainer Schönhaar

Rainer Schönhaar
Balluff GmbH
Product Manager for Image Processing




In Industry 4.0 process and product data are the objective basis for making decisions when early measures need to be taken for process optimization


The new Balluff SmartCamera can execute a variety of sophisticated inspection programs.



With the SmartCamera the user is given a highly flexible tool


Topics: MachineVision, SmartCamera

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