ABB Robotics
The accuracy of the vision system makes it well suited to work cells that handle small volumes of various parts and its speed and agility allow it to be effective too for highvolume machining stations

Introducing Plug-and-Play Machine Tending

Jan. 16, 2013
“Smart” cameras allow robots to “see” parts Successful with CNC lathes, VMCs, HMCs, and grinders Vision enhances multiple robotic functions

A number of compelling arguments have brought an increasing number of machine shops, fabricators, and other manufacturers into the world of automated production, including the cost of skilled labor, the opportunity for ‘lights out’ operation, and the increasing affordability of robotic systems. ABB Robotics is due to introduce North American manufacturers to a new robotic technology that may prove even more persuasive.

The robot developer is collaborating with a Swedish robot automation integrator, SVIA Industrial Automation, to market SVIA’s PickVision “smart camera” vision system to North America’s industrial robotics market.  SVIA is a specialty outfitter of industrial robots with vision-enabled functionality for machine tool tending. Its applications have been deployed for CNC lathes, vertical machine centers, horizontal machine centers, and grinders. 

“SVIA and ABB have provided a great resource to manufacturers all across Europe, merging the capabilities of industrial robots with standard vision technology especially for machine tool applications,” according to ABB Robotics North America’s channel and market development manager, Ed Moritz. 

PickVision is described as “highly flexible and easy to use” for various robotic applications that will be enhanced with vision capability.

There are over 600 PickVision installations in Europe, most of these with ABB industrial robots.

ABB Robotics explained that PickVision allows robots to “see” the parts they are handling, allowing them to adjust to a wide variety of parts easily. This flexibility makes it well suited for operations (like machining cells) that handle smaller volumes of the same part.

Also, due the speed and agility that the smart camera function achieves, it is also effective for operations that use robots to handle large volumes of the same part.

The system is integrated with ABB’s IRC 5 Controller, so users may expect “plug and play” simplicity in the process of setting up and adapting it to their specific applications. It can be programmed on a PC or tablet, and features a Window 8 touch screen interface. The system includes remote service capabilities including a specially designed iPhone App.

“Giving the robots the ability to see brings enhanced capabilities to a wide range of robotic applications in both existing and emerging application segments,” stated SVIA president Gary Frick. “When we first developed PickVision we had three goals in mind: to provide a machine tending tool that is powerful and flexible, yet easy to use. With the foundation of our success in Europe and the support of ABB, the time is ideal to bring this proven technology to the North American market.”

About the Author

Robert Brooks | Content Director

Robert Brooks has been a business-to-business reporter, writer, editor, and columnist for more than 20 years, specializing in the primary metal and basic manufacturing industries. His work has covered a wide range of topics, including process technology, resource development, material selection, product design, workforce development, and industrial market strategies, among others. Currently, he specializes in subjects related to metal component and product design, development, and manufacturing — including castings, forgings, machined parts, and fabrications.

Brooks is a graduate of Kenyon College (B.A. English, Political Science) and Emory University (M.A. English.)