Vision Sensors Error Proof Oil Cap Assembly

An application success story from Cognex

Supplying parts to the world’s leading automotive companies leaves no room for error. That’s why Miniature Precision Components Inc. (MPC) uses three vision sensors to error-proof the automated assembly of oil-caps.

After a demo, they chose Checker 202 vision sensors because they include a simple, yet powerful graphical form of ladder logic that allows tying Checker’s individual inspection sensors directly to outputs to easily solve more complex applications. “The small size, built-in lighting, variable working distance, ladder logic and free-running capability make these devices very simple to install. There was no need to wire them to a PLC, no need to install and wire trigger sensors, and the four-step set up makes it by far the easiest vision sensor that I’ve ever used,” says Champion. “Unlike with the vision systems that we’ve used in the past, I am able to set up the entire inspection with Checker in just a few minutes.”

Checker vision sensors have helped us achieve zero-defect rates in the manufacturing process,” notes Harsha, “while lowering scrap. They are the perfect solution for many of our inspection and error-proofing applications.”

Tri-Phase Automation is a Cognex distributor in Wisconsin. We offer machine vision evaluations and technical support to help our customers solve their applications.

Inclination Sensors for Position Detection of the Arm System on Aerial Work Platforms

A solutions from Pepperl+Fuchs

inclination SensorsInclination sensors are in use on the WT1000 aerial work platform manufactured by Palfinger Platforms GmbH. The WT1000 is the tallest all-terrain aerial work platform in the world, and has been specifically developed for installing and servicing wind turbines. The platform has an extreme working height of over100 m and can reach heights that conventional aerial work platforms cannot.

The exact position of the work platform arm system must be monitored continuously to guarantee the stability of the aerial work platform, the safety of personnel, and to prevent damage to the wind turbine.  Palfinger relies on the reliable F99 series inclination sensors from Pepperl+Fuchs.  The inclination sensors detect the exact position of the arm system on the aerial work platform.

Inclination sensors ensure accurate position detection of the arm system on aerial work platforms
Inclination sensors ensure accurate position detection of the arm system on aerial work platforms

Palfinger Platforms defined two angular measurement ranges between 0° and 360° for detecting the position of the arm system on their aerial work platforms. The F99 inclination sensors were then adapted by Pepperl+Fuchs according to these specific requirements. To reduce the effect of vibrations on the sensor element, the angle measurement was equipped with a special filter.

Tri-Phase Automation is a distributor of Pepperl+Fuchs products in Wisconsin.  Contact Tri-Phase Automation

Automatic Identification of Mounting Devices on Hydraulic Excavators

An application solution from Pepperl Fuchs

pf-auto-identification-of-mounting-device-on-excavatorsThe Challenge:
A system that can be used for fast changes of all hydraulic mounting devices on a hydraulic excavator from the cab.

Liebherr presented the latest development phase of the LIKUFIX system with a new TOOL MANAGEMENT system at Bauma 2007. With the inductive RFID system Pepperl Fuchs IDENT-I System P, the mounting tool is automatically detected by LIKUFIX during the change process. All necessary parameters are set on the excavator by the control system. The IPH-18GM-V1 read/write head is mounted in the excavator’s quick change system. Each mounting tool also contains a fully potted IPC03-16GK data carrier. Relevant information such as oil quantity, pressure, and type, or operating hours of mounting tools is recorded in this RFID chip and transferred inductively. The information is communicated through the IC-KP1-B16-LBH-SUBD control interface via a CAN-Bus interface from the IPH-18GM-V1 write/ read head directly to the excavator control unit.This TOOL MANAGEMENT system makes excavators even more economical and prevents incorrect operations by the excavator driver.  The result is lower operating and maintenance costs with greater productivity.

Advantages of the Pepperl Fuchs RFID System:

  • Sturdy design with fully potted electronics in the IPH-18GM-V1 write/read head
  • High temperature resistance
  • Serial communication allows for mounting between write/read head and IC-KP1-B16-LBH-SUBD control interface independent of length
  • Direct communication with excavator control via CAN-Bus interface
  • Rugged IPC03-16GK passive data carriers with protection type IP68/ IP69KStandardized economical data carriers

Tri-Phase Automation is a distributor of Pepperl Fuchs in Wisconsin.
Contact Tri-Phase Sales or Get a Quote

Converting lift trucks to AGVs

A solution from Kollmorgen

Smooth and synchronized teamwork is the best way for a worker and his lift truck to maximize productivity.

The traditional  vehicle-based, order-picking process can include unproductive steps.  By converting ordinary lift trucks into automatic guided vehicles (AGVs) in its central facility, Sweden’s Coop has increased productivity by 100%.

A traditional truck-based order  picker  spends as much time picking as he does picking up  empty  pallets  or  containers, delivering  full  pallets  and driving  around.  As the  second largest retailer in Sweden, Coop wanted  to  make  sure  the  handling  of  3,500 pallets per  day and  65 million packages per year was as efficient as possible.

Using onboard hardware and software,  the  new  vehicles automatically  escort  the  picker and  are  always  optimally  positioned to minimize the distance and  effort  needed  to  pick  and place   products.   The vehicles automatically lift the forks to the right height for easy stacking.   The units communicate with a remote warehouse management system that plans efficient routes through the warehouse in coordination with other units. The system also integrates with Coop’s  existing voice-guided picking technology, which ensures accuracy as productivity soars.

Productivity almost instantly doubled at the Coop distribution center, and  workers reported decreases in stress and physical  strain.

Tri-Phase Automation is a distributor of Kollmorgen products in Wisconsin. Contact Tri-Phase Automation Sales

Read the application report: Converting lift trucks to AGVs

Page layout as originally published in Modern Materials Handling October 2009 has been modified.

Unmanned Vehicles Used Exlar Linear Actuators in Darpa Challenge

A solution story for Exlar.

exlar-unmanned-vehicleThe DARPA Urban Challenge is an autonomous vehicle research and development program with the goal of developing technology that will keep warfighters off the battlefield and out of harm’s way. The Urban Challenge features autonomous ground vehicles maneuvering in a mock city environment, executing simulated military supply missions while merging into moving traffic, navigating traffic circles, negotiating busy intersections, and avoiding obstacles.

DARPA conducts the Urban Challenge program. Every “dull, dirty, or dangerous” task that can be carried out using a machine instead of a human protects our war fighters and allows valuable human resources to be used more effectively

Application Solution
The compact Exlar® linear actuators and rotary motor provided the ideal solution to keep the weight down and consume as little space as possible in the SOLO Autonomous Ground vehicle designed by SoftThought Inc. for the DARPA challenge. With standard products that pass the rigorous requirements of military shock and vibration testing, Exlar’s actuators and motors also had the reliability required for this arduous challenge. Read the full story

Tri-Phase Automation is a distributor of Exlar in Wisconsin.
Contact Tri-Phase Sales or Get a Quote

Wireless Solution for Cold Chain Logistics Monitoring System

An application story from Advantech

By using refrigerator trucks, logistics companies can transport goods everywhere. However, it is also a challenge to ensure that goods are stored in optimal conditions during transportation as well as being delivered punctually.

Traditional cold storage tracking systems monitor the temperature of the refrigerated container with an electronic recorder. The temperature recorder only allows the data to be downloaded when the product arrives at its destination. Due to the issue of temperature control, the process needs to be controlled in real time so the ideal solution is to use an in-vehicle system with sensors to closely monitor the goods and trucks.

Advantech provides the solution for cold chain application to not only manage fleet but also monitor the reefer when the truck is on the road. The ADAM-2031Z is an end device in a wireless sensor network with an integrated temperature and humidity sensor and can be directly placed in the refrigerator to measure the temperature without wiring installation. The ADAM-2031Z also wirelessly transmits the sensor data to a TREK-753 Fleet Management Terminal via an ADAM-2520Z Modbus RTU Gateway.


The ADAM-2031Z has an operating temperature range of between -40°C to 85°C. It also features low power consumption, with power provided by two AA-size lithium batteries enabling it to be used for a long period of time without changing the batteries.

Read the full application story:
Wireless Solution for Cold Chain Logistics Monitoring System

ID Readers Enable Part Traceability of Direct Part Mark Products

cognex-id-reader-enables-part-tracebility-of-direct-part-mark-productWhen Canadian energy services company Packers Plus needed to read challenging dot peened codes on a variety of parts, they specified Cognex® DataMan® handheld ID readers. The company’s StackFRAC® system consists of many parts, each marked with a unique 2D Data Matrix code that enables traceability throughout its useful life.

Traceability delivers two important benefits for Packers Plus. First, it reduces rework costs by providing better manufacturing process control and ensuring that the right parts are used at every stage of production. Second, it enables Packers Plus to quickly retrieve information on 100% of the parts in every system that has been shipped out their door, including production history and quality control information.

In the past, Packers Plus manually recorded information such as lot numbers, heat numbers, quality control measurements and other information in a spreadsheet. “This was a very time-consuming manual process that took approximately four hours for each product, so we only did it when necessary,” said Marlon Leggott, Director of Manufacturing for Packers Plus. “Another problem with the manual process is that it is susceptible to mistakes, such as data entry errors.”

Selecting marking and reading tools

Packers Plus considered a number of different options for improving traceability when it installed its new ERP system. Kurtis Weber of iTech Tool Technology helped Packers Plus design the traceability solution. “We looked at labels with standard line bar codes but determined they would have to come off during assembly, which would negate many of the advantages of serialization,” Weber said. “RFID tags don’t work well with various metal parts because of interference with reading and writing the tags. Laser marking overcomes all of these problems but laser marking machines begin at $50,000 and have to be enclosed — which causes problems when used to mark large pieces — and cannot easily be moved from place to place. We recommended a dot peen marking system because it is permanent, does not rely on fragile RF transmissions, costs only about $10,000 per machine, and is available in fixed or mobile models. The mobility allows us to easily move around the plant and successfully mark any size part in a variety of orientations.” With dot peen marking, a carbide or diamond-tipped stylus pneumatically or electromechanically strikes the material surface.

Packers Plus then faced the difficult challenge of reading the marked parts. The challenge arises from the fact that Packers Plus makes parts with curved surfaces and many different materials and coating combinations. Nearly any reader can be adjusted to provide perfect accuracy on a particular combination but Packers Plus wanted a reader that could deliver high levels of accuracy on any part. “We recommended Cognex DataMan handheld readers because they adjust the lighting to match the part and use the industry’s most  advanced algorithm  for picking out the 2D Data Matrix code from the background,” Weber said. “This is the only product I have seen that is capable of accurately reading the wide range of parts used by Packers Plus.” 

Read More:

ID Readers Enable Part Traceability for Direct Part Marked Products

Assembly line upgrade boosts profitability

Cognex In-Sight® sensors checking the quality of laser welds at Renault – SandouvilleRenault LHA factory Cognex story

The Renault LHA factory is located in the Haute Normandie region, in the town of Sandouville, and more precisely in the port and industrial estate of Le Havre (in the Seine-Maritime Department). This sizeable bodywork-assembly plant is specialized in the manufacture of top-of-the-range vehicles.

The vision application presented here was set up in the pressing workshop. This workshop produces sheet metal parts that make up the body shell of the vehicles. It mainly comprises cutting lines, assembly and sheet welding points, as well as sheet presses which make up the various bodywork components. The pressing workshop supplies the sheet metal workshop which carries out the assembly of the various parts of the body shell. This then passes on to the paint shop before final assembly.

Each side of the body shell is made up of two parts which have been assembled by laser welding. It is around the weld that defects can appear and need to be detected. While the various pressing operations – which give the part its shape – are being carried out, clear or partial breaks can be produced. As the parts are stored manually at the end of the line, those parts showing such faults are easy to spot and remove.

It is not so easy to spot when the faults are small holes, some of which can measure less than 3/10th of a millimeter, which form along the bead of the weld. If the presence of these holes is not detected at the end of the line, and if the part is not removed, breaks can be produced during shaping, causing numerous problems which can have serious effects on the productivity of the assembly line. Sometimes minute holes are enough to give the bodywork an unsightly appearance after the paintwork has been done.

If these defects are not detected before the vehicle is assembled, the consequences can be financially very expensive as it is very difficult to repair…and sometimes there is no other choice but to send the chassis to the scrapyard.

Checking the welding was previously done by several operators who had to struggle to handle parts of a considerable size and weight: the sides of the body shell measure around 3.4 meters in length, 1.6 meters wide and weigh nearly 30kg. To carry out the operation, they used to place a light source on one side of the part and check from the other side that the light did not pass through, showing breaks or holes in the part. This form of control, even when it was done in the optimum way, cannot highlight holes of a very small diameter.

Numerous defective parts passed through these checks, so a solution had to be found which was capable of putting a stop to this situation while carrying out a continual and reliable check of the lower body shells.


Four Cognex In-Sight 1000 cameras, each placed in protective casing, are positioned at the top, over the platform, on the cross support beam. A control screen is fixed on one side of the test bench, in a box where the control system is also installed. A marking system for defective parts is fitted at the other end.                                                                   

The parts to be checked – body shell sides – measure around 3.4 meters long, 1.6 meters wide, and weigh nearly 30kg. They are put onto the supports provided for this purpose on the test bench by a robot. There are two areas to be checked. The target areas measure approximately 10 centimeters in length, by 5 centimeters wide, with a covering. Two of the cameras are inclined at 45 °, the part forming a U-shape over the welded area.

The cameras are able to detect very low light levels coming from the back-lighting system and passing through any holes, some of which are only a tenth of a millimeter in diameter.

If the part is declared sound, this is displayed on the control screen. If the part is defective, it is also displayed on the screen, a red light comes on at the end of the line for each fault, and finally, the part is marked by a jet of ink which stops it from being used.

The speed of the control carried out on the line was a determining factor of the project: all the operations – positioning the part, capture and analysis of the image, detection and marking could not reduce the production rate in any case. At this stage, the Cognex systems proved their worth: the production rate specified in the Terms and Conditions was 900 parts per hour; the current production rate is 420 parts per hour for the body shell sides and 850 parts per hour for the side frames.

The system is connected to a PC fitted with a hard drive for saving the photos of the defective parts detected over one year. This procedure allows the problems encountered to be analyzed at a later date; it contributes in ensuring the traceability of parts and for monitoring the various shifts (days, hours, cameras 1 and 2…).


Checking welds reliably for individual parts at full production rates, eliminated entire body shells being scrapped at the end of the line.

Read the full story by Cognex

KIA Motors achieves 99% read rates with Cognex barcode readers

Cognex Kia Motors achies99% read rates with Cognex Barcode ReadersKIA Motors, located in Korea, manages their traceability program on their engine and transmission parts using 2-D Data Matrix direct part marked (DPM) codes. A car transmission consists of as many as 300,000 parts. Among them, the key components (e.g., differential gear, T/F driver gear, T/F driven gear, carrier, O/D clutch, transmission case, housing, valve body, etc.) are traced throughout the production process. Additionally key components on the engine, which is comprised of around 200,000 parts (e.g., the piston, cylinder head, engine block, CAM shaft, and crank shaft) are traced throughout the manufacturing and distributing processes.

KIA Motors focused on enhancing 2-D Data Matrix read rates for traceability after it shifted its production system to the 6-speed transmission production line. The company’s conventional transmission production line produced approximately 1,800 units daily but only delivered 96-97% read rates. Their engine line, which produced 1,300-1,400 engines daily, had read rates that were under 97%. KIA Motors knew that an increase in read rates by as little as 2-3% in this production line would deliver various benefits, such production yield and reduction of manufacturing costs as well as improved work efficiency.


The previous barcode reader frequently stopped the manufacturing machines due to the failure to read codes. Because it was manually operated, it was hard to match the manufacturing cycle on time, which, in turn, decreased work efficiency and production yield. Furthermore, there was a possibility of using inappropriate parts if the code read was incorrect, which could cause product defects. This particular line had challenging Data Matrix codes to read since the s-speed transmission parts are small. Furthermore, KIA Motors downsized from 10×10 to 5×5, marking space. As a result, marking quality also declined.

Because KIA Motors’ auto parts are assembled with anti-rust oil spray, one of the challenges for the reader to avoid is errors caused by oil on the code. In addition, the 2-D Data Matrix codes can be stained or damaged by dirt or scratches, even though they have been washed and kept clean. And, with the reduced marking size, the codes are very small and have greater variation in marking quality, making them more difficult to read.


The Cognex 2DMax+ code reading algorithm can read virtually any barcode regardless of the damage or the surface it is marked on. In addition, Cognex barcode readers offer Ethernet connectivity so they can directly integrate into the factory network, and direct communication with PLC possible without a transmission device.


Improved read rates from 96-97% to 99%, and allowed the manufacturing cycle to match the inspection time.

Read More

Sensors for Forklift and Mobile Equipment

Sensors for forkliftsMobile machines such as forklifts, elevating work platforms, or container stackers, require precise positioning of heavy loads and effective control of rapid movements for transporting materials. Heavy-duty, resilient sensors guarantee precision and reliability both in warehouses and in outdoor applications.

Fork Inclination Monitoring – Inclination Sensor

  • Detects the horizontal angle of the fork while the truck is in motion
  • Prevents the truck tipping when transporting heavy loads

Nonmechanical Hand Detection – Capacitive Grip Sensor

  • If the hand is removed from the joystick, the engine is stopped and hydraulic pressure is lowered
  • Inadvertent joystick actuation is virtually impossible

Fork Height Monitoring – Laser Distance Sensor

  • Height monitoring for safe fork movement
  • Forklift speed can be adjusted according to fork height

Fork Extension Monitoring – Positioning System

  • Monitors the fork positions for controlled fork extension