Using security systems to debug automation
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  1. #1
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    Default Using security systems to debug automation

    We've got many, many automated production systems. Sometimes you have issues you just cannot seem to solve and need some help.

    We have a system that uses ink printers to mark parts. Parts come to it via conveyor system, they are oriented via Cognex camera system and a rotary table, then marked. Afterwards they go to an automated inspection system that verifies the mark is correct and in the correct place and orientation. It's a fairly common process in high volume production. All of this is designed and built in-house. We've had an issue with this particular system in that we get one printed backwards occasionally.... and by occasionally I mean you get ONE somewhere between 30,000 - 1,000,000 parts. Lately, it's been more toward the 1/50,000 range. It is extremely difficult to troubleshoot something like this.

    Management is blaming the camera system, but we've got about as robust a camera program as you can have. Scores are excellent for both the "good" and the "bad" (we check for both and compare the two). You can't really record images because there is no set orientation for the parts coming into the system, you would fill up large hard drives in short order trying to record images. And, even if you did that, you will only see what the camera sees, not what the machine is actually doing.

    So what I did was order a 1080P wireless security camera system. I've got a camera looking at each orientation device (mechanical system - this thing has 2 stations, processing 2 production streams) and then I put a 3rd camera watching the Cognex cameras. (both cameras open on split-screen on a computer - basically I'm recording the computer monitor.) This way I have synchronized time-stamped video from both the mechanical system and the vision system.

    So yesterday it produced another bad part. I was able to find it on video and see that the camera did it's thing correctly, but there is some logic bug in the machine. I sent video clips to our Electrical Engineer who programmed it yesterday evening. The video will really help him troubleshoot quicker because he can see exactly where in the sequence (and what everything else was doing) when this occurred. I'm sure it's some kind of timing issue resulting in this happening, but there is also the possibility that it is a copy/paste issue triggered by the timing. (I.e. copying code and miss changing a single tag in the copied logic.) Actually the tag issue is quite likely since this is a dual machine serviced by a single AB plc.
    It will be interesting to see what he finds when he digs into it. I'll try to update this post when he finds it.

    The whole point is though, that a $400 security system may save you a lot of heartache when troubleshooting and automated system.

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  3. #2
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    Very clever. Thanks for the post.

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    The built-in slow-mo recording on an iPhone is pretty handy as well. I've used it to catch anomalies in video timecode (hours, minutes, seconds, frames) that was intermittently misbehaving. Or screen glitches in video displays.

    Chip

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    Hey Tony,

    Good use of technology indeed!

    We have leveraged the 8 camera security systems from Costco and installed them in paper converting machines for similar reasons in addition to giving operators a clear view of trouble areas that have become increasingly difficult to monitor when in production with greater deployment of safety guarding and LOTO procedures.

    It has also been handy for properly handling warranty claims. (Bent Z-axis quill caught being a result of trying to remove a large part from a machine with the z-axis fully extended deep within the part with a broken / seized tool . . . the operator was doing burnouts in reverse with the part chained to the forklift mast - all on camera)


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