Integrated Inspection Solutions: A Cognex Partnership

With over 20 years specializing in developing unique automated solutions, Steven Douglas Corp. (SDC) recently completed a project that set new standards for vision requirements and improved the assembly and testing process for a long-standing partner in the automotive industry.

SDC’s assembly machines usually integrate more than one camera to visually inspect specific points throughout the machine. This can happen at critical points during the assembly process and once the part is fully assembled. Cognex helps fuel their innovative standards and keep machines updated. 

Customer Objectives

  • The customer was in search of a way to efficiently assemble automotive electronic ignition coils. 
  • A camera was needed to measure the location of a lead wire relative to the part being assembled.
  • Several cameras were needed to measure critical dimensions on the part as it was assembled. 
  • Operating supervision was needed to ensure each part was assembled to specification. 

Why Cognex

The integration of vision systems is a constant element. Cognex provides a complete integrated solution (camera, configuration and software) that makes their vision systems an easy choice when compared to other available solutions. Their In-Sight series of cameras are standalone, which saves space inside the electrical enclosures since they require no external controller.

The SDC team has found that the ease of use of Cognex’s vision systems coupled with their intuitive and flexible configuration software expands the possibility of use for applications. 

“I prefer Cognex because they integrate seamlessly into the Rockwell PLC control system that we use on almost all our machines – more seamlessly than most other manufacturers.” -Neil Davis, SDC Electrical Engineer

Cognex Camera Location
This image shows an In-Sight 8402 camera equipped with a circular light at an indexing point

Machine Benefits

Cognex vision systems provide the ability to verify parts loading onto the machine where more simplistic sensing systems would not be as reliable or successful. These same systems allow for the confirmation of proper component assembly, the execution of dimensional checks and controlling critical process parameters.  

Cognex Insight software has allowed engineers to quickly implement vision-related solutions with the EasyBuilder software interface. More complex applications may require the Insight spreadsheet approach to programming. This adds greater flexibility to the application.

Machine Components for Cognex Blog
This image shows a side view of the indexing dial on the automated assembly machine and some of its components.

Highlighted Benefits

  • Cognex’s free configuration software is downloadable from their website. No software license is required. This allows a technician to easily identify issues with the part inspection and correct them. 
  • Cognex vision systems can be integrated into the machine at any stage of the automated assembly process. This allows the machine to verify that components have been properly put together. 
  • Since their vision systems are standalone, it is easy to integrate additional vision systems as needed into the machine that were not anticipated in the initial machine design. 
  • Option of a touchscreen display that can connect to all the vision systems on the machine so that operators and technicians can view live images from the cameras
Cognex VisionView Screen
Image shows the Cognex VisionView 900 Touchscreen Display with inspected part dimensions and their accuracy on screen

Key Results

  1. Steven Douglas Corp. created and built an automated assembly machine with indexing dials, robots and Cognex vision systems. This resulted in successfully assembled parts with an optimized machine rate. 
  2. Cognex’s In-Sight 7801 camera was chosen for its ability to take critical measurements on the part. If the measurements were within spec, the part passed and was further processed. If the checks failed, the part was not further processed and was rejected at a later station on the machine. 
  3. Cognex’s In-Sight 8402 camera was used to measure critical dimensions on the part as it was assembled. Its high resolution allowed for very fine measurements and tight part tolerances. With a small size and POE (power over ethernet) capability, this series of camera was the best and most ergonomic choice of camera because it reduced the number of cables required on the machine.  
  4. The operator can quickly see if there are failures, and what type of failures are occurring, as the machine is running by viewing the inspections on the screen in real time.