Machine vision is a 21st-century technology with its roots in the latter part of the 20th century.
It is present across all sectors of manufacturing and is a critical component of the manufacturing process for many reasons but if you were to ask someone with responsibility for production, they would probably give you these three salient points:
- Improved quality control
- Increased throughput
- Reduced costs
It is the reduction of costs that should be of interest to those who are concerned about the environment and the impact we humans have on the planet. This is because the cost reduction isn’t just about saving the factory money – this is a great thing for the manufacturer of course but the implications are far wider than just improving the bottom line.
Here are some examples:
If the pizza bread is defective in some way and this is not detected quickly enough, it will reach the end of the production line where it might not fit into the packaging. Food waste is therefore reduced.
The machine vision system locates the coat hangers moving very quickly along a conveyor belt, identifies them, inspects them for completeness and then sorts them with the help of a robot. Plastic hangers can therefore be efficiently recycled.
However, the sector that is likely to benefit the most from the deployment of advanced machine vision systems is farming. The term agritech has come into the popular lexicon in recent times and this is a fascinating area to be involved in.
This is a section from an article written for the World Economic Forum in 2018:
“Smart agriculture and food systems
AI-augmented agriculture involves automated data collection, decision-making and corrective actions via robotics to allow early detection of crop diseases and issues, to provide timed nutrition to livestock, and generally to optimise agricultural inputs and returns based on supply and demand. This promises to increase the resource efficiency of the agriculture industry, lowering the use of water, fertilisers and pesticides which cause damage to important ecosystems, and increase resilience to climate extremes.”
We at Scorpion Vision are starting to play our small part in this exciting area with our vegetable processing systems. Our systems can increase yield by automatically sorting and improving the preparation of the vegetable. The benefits for the farmer are almost immediate but longer term, these kinds of systems will prove to be essential as the agricultural industry becomes increasingly reliant on technology.
In summary, machine vision is a key technology with strong green credentials. The ability to automatically inspect, sort and improve on what humans can do saves waste, reduces land fill and improves yield.