Simple connector assembly verification with machine vision

Simple connector assembly verification with machine vision


By Banner Engineering

Dial-X Automated Equipment builds efficient machinery utilizing reliable, easy-to-use Banner vision technology to ensure manufacturing accuracy

Since 1972, Dial-X Automated Equipment in Albion, Indiana has designed and delivered sophisticated machinery for pharmaceutical, food and beverage, automotive and consumer goods manufacturing applications. These industries often require machines that not only convey products, but also inspect parts for quality assurance during the manufacturing process. For many of these applications over the last decade, Dial-X has selected to integrate machine vision equipment from Banner Engineering to offer customers lower costs, accurate results and simple system usability.

Dial-X provides single source machine building and integration services, assembling and testing all equipment in-house, installing the equipment at the customer’s plant, and continuing to provide product support throughout the machine’s lifecycle. The company specifies the machine vision technology required for each customer by analyzing the target object or feature of interest in the application—determining whether the manufactured product must be inspected for correct size or shape, proper component alignment after assembly, or any number of additional factors. Banner’s vision sensors are often employed in applications where customer parts are checked for deformities or incorrect mold or assembly. The sensors are also able to simply analyze the product components both as they enter and leave the machine, assuring quality manufacturing from start to finish.

“We chose Banner originally because their equipment was low in cost and worked well for inspecting our customers’ products,” said Curt Bonar, president of Dial-X.

“The camera software is easy to program and teach to maintenance personnel—you can talk them through the process over the phone,” added Ryan Berkes, Dial-X project manager. “Even back when we began using Banner products, it was very simple for first-time users.”

The company now integrates Banner’s PresencePLUS Pro and P4 cameras frequently when building customers’ machines. The Pro demonstrates great flexibility due to its enhanced software toolset and relatively small size, while the P4 delivers enhanced convenience by integrating the controller into the camera itself. Both cameras offer a sophisticated toolset and advanced communications abilities, as well as significant sales support.

C&E Sales distributor Jeremy Nichols, who sold Dial-X the Banner equipment for a recent machine for connector assembly, said the vision products have proven instrumental in improving companies’ automation capabilities. “Banner’s products deliver high performance for less money, and the support Banner provides is, in my opinion, a step above the competition—they’ll make every effort to make sure customers receive the products they need right away.”

Since Banner’s cameras feature Ethernet connectivity, they allow inspection results to be communicated directly from the camera to a PLC. In addition, the smart sensors simply adjust to manufacturing line changes, minimizing production downtime.

“With the camera’s remote TEACH capability, if a component changes in the middle of the assembly process—and the customer wants to keep the machine in operation until maintenance arrives—they can teach the sensor to adjust to the new part right away,” Nichols said.

He agreed with Dial-X that the biggest advantage Banner’s PresencePLUS cameras offer is easy operation.

“The reason we’ve sold so many Banner cameras is because you don’t have to be a vision engineer to work on it,” Nichols said. “Maintenance workers can adjust the camera directly and set-up an inspection.” In addition to offering cameras with robust operation and simple programming, Banner has provided Dial-X with numerous lighting accessories to ensure customer parts are correctly illuminated to deliver the optimal contrast for each application.

“Banner offers everything from spotlights to backlights and area lights,” Curt Bonar said. “Plus, they send a stockpile of lights to our vendor, who will usually give us a few lights from their test kits. This way we can begin building our initial machines before we get our order from Banner—which doesn’t take very long.”

In the recent machines Dial-X has built for assembling connectors, the company used eleven Banner PresencePLUS cameras, two spotlights, a backlight and an on-axis light. Each lighting type was selected for the machine depending on the connector part to be inspected.

“If we’re verifying the connector’s shape, we’ll use a backlight to create a silhouette of the product,” Ryan Berkes said. “For verifying color, we’ll use a spotlight to highlight the front part of the connector. The on-axis light is used to mute the color of one of four internal connector parts. This allows us to measure and verify that two parts are assembled correctly.”

In addition, Jeremy Nichols recommended an innovative use for non-vision Banner products—EZ LIGHT indicator lights. While these lights are most often used for highly visible machine status indication, their small size and robust construction made them an ideal solution for lighting some of the connectors’ smallest components.

“Banner offers a wide range of lighting options, but since the part was only about a half-inch in size, these smaller indicator lights proved to be very beneficial acting as backlights,” Nichols said. “Plus, since these indicators are around $70 or $80, rather than a few hundred dollars—which is common for full-size backlights—they saved a ton of money as well.”

From cameras to lighting to support, Banner’s partnership with Dial-X and C&E Sales has resulted in a robust automation solution for connector assembly—and many additional applications prior and to come.

“Banner’s vision sensors offer ease of use and relatively small size, with lots of lighting accessories available—as well as an increased number of vision tools and enhanced communication capabilities,” Bonar said. “And if we have any issues, we receive very good support from both C&E Sales and Banner.”