Making machine vision add up

Greg Blackman tries to put a figure on the cost of vision technology


ow much does machine vision cost? Tis is something that any engineer will have to specify when designing

an automation solution: there will be the cost of components, designing and building the system, and maintenance, with machine vision a percentage of that. But, does it actually matter what the

vision system costs? In some ways, what an integrator or equipment provider might quote for a vision system is not that important. What matters is return on investment,

which is the metric that any good automation or vision project should be based on. If adding a vision system to a manufacturing line improves productivity, or reduces waste or removes error, it will pay for itself over time. In pharmaceutical production, for

example, vision is such an important part of the manufacturing line it’s practically legislated, according to Simon Beveridge, managing director of UK-based vision integrator Siga Vision. Or, at least, the manufacturer has to have an operating

method that captures certain data, which is best achieved using vision. So, here, the cost of vision is largely irrelevant, because without it there’s no production line. (Read more about how Siga Vision has been working through the pandemic on page 26 ) Not all manufacturing requires vision

to the same extent as pharmaceutical production. Where it’s a little less clear cut on the necessity of vision technology, the starting point should be the application, and whether vision can be used to address the problem. David Dechow, principal vision

systems architect at US integrator Integro Technologies, explained that the difference

between a successful and unsuccessful vision installation comes down to technical knowledge and diligence in engineering. Also, making sure the system is specified correctly for the application; no one wants a system that doesn’t work. However it might be that the vision works, just not for the task for which it was built. ‘As an integrator, or even as a proponent

of vision technology, we want you to do it right first time,’ Dechow said, ‘and that requires some knowledge and diligence in engineering. It’s a function of engineering

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