Easy vision guidance for robot picking

26th June 2018
Alex Lynn

2D and 3D vision guidance systems for easy and quick set-up for robots picking products in electronics applications has been introduced by SICK. Suitable for both cobots and conventional industrial robots, the SICK PLOC2D and PLB 520 have been developed to facilitate affordable, or entry-level pick and place robotics.

The SICK PLOC2D is an easy set-up vision system for 2D localisation of static or moving products and packages. The SICK PLB 520 uses a stereoscopic vision camera to enable 3D vision guided bin picking applications of smaller objects than was previously possible.Both systems combine image processing hardware with a SICK developed algorithm to deliver out of the box integration with pick and place robots. They have been developed to be directly compatible and simple to integrate with most leading industrial robot systems, including cobots such as Universal Robots.

Both the PLOC2D and the PLB 520 aim to be rapidly and easily connected directly to the robot control without programming skills or training and are ready to use almost immediately.

Neil Sandhu, National Product Manager, Imaging, Measurement and Ranging at SICK UK stated: “The SICK PLOC2D and PLB 520 are vision solutions to facilitate two of the most common robot tasks. Especially when combined with a cobot system, they provide new opportunities for production teams to replace repetitive or physically demanding manual tasks with a more affordable robotic solution that is straightforward to set up. Previously, most part localisation systems were designed for larger or high-speed scale applications. Now typical electronics and picking and placing tasks can be easily automated for assembly and packaging processes.”

The SICK PLOC2D sensor enables engineers and integrators to provide continuous picking of products or packages from a static workstation, moving belt or bowl feeder. PLOC2D supports single and multiple detection of parts and can identify one specific part type out of multiple types taught to the system. With support for conveyor tracking and the capacity to locate more than 120 parts per minute, the PLOC2D is suited for integration into electronics assembly and packaging.

The SICK PLB 520 is based on SICK’s existing PLB (Part Localisation for Bin picking) 3D robot-guidance system, initially developed to pick randomly arranged components used with larger scale industrial robots. Integrated with a high-performance a stereo vision camera, the SICK PLB 520 has been developed to identify and locate randomly arrayed smaller products or packages in smaller containers or bins.

The SICK PLOC2D includes a 2D imaging system based on the Inspector P vision sensor with an IP65 housing, which connects directly to the robot controller or PLC. The PLOC2D is supplied ready to use from the box in two versions, FIX with a fixed two by two metre field of view, and FLEX with a choice of four lenses and different optical resolutions to meet the application requirements.

The SICK PLOC2D EasyTeach function matches taught-in shapes against the object shape measured down to a 0.5px resolution in two axis, with a rotational measurement to 0.1o, providing a measurement in millimetres in a second. The approved shape and its location in the field of view is output to the robot controller to guide picking.

The SICK PLB 520 comprises twin 1.3Mpx resolution cameras, with central high power blue LED illumination for good rendition of a wide range of object finishes and allows specification of lens focal lengths to meet the application requirements for optimal image resolution. 

The PLB 520 teach-in procedure uses uploaded CAD models of parts, together with a number of identified gripper positions, to enable the algorithm to locate the part in any orientation and select the most appropriate gripper position to pick up the part. 

With installed software and an SD card, both systems have an interface which is compatible with webserver, Ethernet TCP/IP robot- and PLC interfaces, allowing site or remote configuration. Common communications platforms such as SICK’s 4DPro which incorporates standard protocols, facilitate integration of different devices and real time communication with a factory network.

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