Vision 4.0: Industrial image processing moving towards the future

Creating a scope for new
solutions

SICK
AG is playing a key role in advancing paradigm shifts in sensor technology with
the SICK AppSpace ecosystem. Intelligent image processing systems and seeing
sensors create the scope to provide completely new solutions, particularly in
the context of Industry 4.0. Binary assessments such as ‘yes or no’ and ‘good
or bad’ are replaced by the development of individual applications, which are
based on a wide range of data and intelligent evaluations. This opens up
unimaginable horizons of availability for industrial production processes.

SICK’s
wide range of vision sensors has long been available, and currently includes Inspector
P63x, P64x, and P65x product families, integrators and OEMs. What is now
available is the opportunity to integrate their knowledge, applications and
ideas with the SICK AppSpace ecosystem. The technology in the Sensor
Integration Machine (SIM), which is an additional component of the SICK
AppSpace ecosystem, for the first time enables complete, digital object
transformation for data collection and archiving for quality control, process
analysis, and forward-thinking condition monitoring. The SICK AppSpace approach
provides a great deal of added value through the development of new app-based
services and business models. What’s more, SICK has started the SICK AppSpace
Developers Club, which encourages developers to share their experiences and
information, providing a forum for paradigm-shifting ideas in the automation
engineering industry.

Industrial image processing
promotes visionary outlook on Industry 4.0

The
fourth industrial revolution promotes and requires a visionary outlook.
Fundamental changes are in the pipeline: intelligent, seeing sensors collect a
multitude of data and are more than just simple switches for controlling
industrial production processes. For instance, this creates scope for new solutions
in the industrial image processing industry.

The
detection of good/bad parts using an image processing sensor is the classic example
of binary assessment. But on the face of this, it has very little to do with a
pioneering solution for a smart factory. However, if the data collected from
the sensor in the inspection process can be used to introduce concrete measures
for preventing bad parts, this will then improve the process immensely.

Vision
sensors that record 1D barcodes and 2D codes provide additional food for
thought when it comes to Industry 4.0. Familiar tasks such as sorting processes
or track-and-trace, are implemented reliably, therefore are no longer
disruptive or even radical innovations. On the other hand, the link to
additional data, such as object history, digital fingerprints, histogram and
attribute data, opens the possibility for trend and variance analysis, which go
way beyond the pure identification of components and products. Image processing,
therefore, forms a valuable basis for newly conceived applications and services
in the context of Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Image
processing sensor solutions are responsible for detecting and determining
action and position based on environmental characters and navigation commands. The
sensor records the concrete utilisation path of the vehicle and makes it
possible for the control to leave the predetermined course, select another
route, and therefore respond intelligently to obstacles and events. When
implemented on an industrial level, new business models can result from this, such
as new parking management systems with autonomous industrial transporters that safely
move cars into and out of spaces. In this sense, Industry 4.0 is advancing quickly
towards the private sphere.

This
shows the radical potential with which industrial image processing ‘made by
SICK’ is moving towards Industry 4.0 and making it possible to develop new services.
The Sick AppSpace ecosystem is the technological pioneer here.

SICK AppSpace: Fully
operable ecosystem for individual sensor app development

The
SICK AppSpace approach integrates your ideas and implements customer-specific requirements
efficiently and made-to-measure as sensor apps. Programmable sensors, such as
the vision sensors from the Inspector P63x, P64x, and P65x product families,
are used as sensor hardware. The SIM4000 Sensor Integration Machine – a
high-performance multi-camera and sensor processor is used for multi-technology
image processing, sensor fusion, and data collection. The SICK AppStudio module
for application development and the SICK AppManager for implementing and
managing apps in the field provide the software. The SICK AppSpace community
forms the third pillar of the SICK AppSpace concept. This is where developers
from SICK and our customers, exchange information and define further development
steps for the ecosystem.

SICK
AppSpace is currently the only ecosystem in this form on the market. It allows
application programmers to design easy-to-use solutions with user interfaces,
regardless of the different sensor and image processing technologies in the
SICK product range. Whether being used for 3D triangulation, a stereo camera,
ToF sensor, ranging scanner, or conventional 2D vision sensor, the main thing
is that the application can be implemented promptly within the known ecosystem
and the end user benefits from the resulting simple sensor app. App developers
can get help directly from the Internet. They can also expect an adaptive
development environment – SICK AppStudio, as well as a community of like-minded
people, which is what they get with the SICK AppSpace Developers Club. It’s not
just virtual – you can meet in person at the annual SICK Developers Club
Conference.

The
SICK AppSpace ecosystem, therefore, creates scope for individual solutions and
ideas in an up-to-date and innovative way – with an embedded operating system,
a variety of hardware functions, and the powerful SICK and Halcon image
processing algorithms, which function as basic firmware via extensive APIs. This
encourages industrial application developers to think outside the box and
inspires them to create their own added value, stretching beyond the sensor
hardware in question.

Image processing and
Industry 4.0: Entering unchartered territories and exploring opportunities together

The
ecosystem thinking makes it easier to implement disruptive, radical solutions
and concepts in the form of new services and business models. The number of app
developers using SICK AppSpace will continue to grow as everyone will have the
opportunity to design and offer their solutions. With tried-and-tested hardware
from technological leader SICK, it becomes possible to advance industrial image
processing and make it a key technology in Industry 4.0.

The
SICK AppSpace is a huge change for SICK itself, not just for users and competitors.
Up until now, only application solutions developed in-house were offered on
SICK sensors. In parallel with this, there is now an ecosystem for application
solutions by OEMs and integrators. The first early adopters and entrepreneurs
have already jumped on the bandwagon, encouraging SICK to extend the sensor app
world that it has created to offer more sensors, which are compatible with SICK
AppSpace.

Written by Dipl.-Ing. (FH)
Andreas Behrens, Head of Marketing & Sales Barcode – RFID – Vision at SICK
AG, Reute, Germany 

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