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Vision's "Time-To-Market Boost" Pitch:
The Practical Issues In Making It Work
One of machine vision's most important claims for customers in recent years is that more efficient, robust application development and implementation tools will speed the time-to-market of manufactured products. That's certainly an idea of considerable importance to industrial imaging system users—and to the OEMs and integrators who serve them. In this month's roundtable discussion, Advanced Imaging takes a new look at the successes and issues that have emerged in making "speeding Time-to-Market" more than just a pitch! And we have a very international group assembled to take on the questions.The Participants: Pierantonio Boriero is the Product Line Manager at Matrox Imaging in Dorval, Quebec, Canada. Earl Yardley is the Director of Industrial Vision Systems Ltd. (sister company of NeuroCheck creator DS GmbH), based at Wantage, Oxon, UK. Philip Colet is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Coreco Imaging in St-Laurent, Quebec, Canada. Enis Ersü is the Executive Board-Chairman at ISRA Vision Systems AG in DArmstadt, Germany, and the Chairman of the Board of the Machine Vision Division of VDMA.Christof Zollitsch is the Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Stemmer Imaging GmbH, located in Puchheim, Germany.
Advanced Imaging: What, based on the experience of OEMs and end-users, have you found to be the key issues for the success of tools in seeing that machine vision application delivery—from development to implementation—has truly helped speed Time-to-Market?
Pierantonio Boriero, Matrox Imaging: We've found the key features of machine vision tools that have enabled developers to successfully reduce time-to-market include access to well-documented and well-supported software with an easy-to-use, device-independent API. Such software can help a customer quickly move to a new-generation project involving hardware changes or upgrades without having to learn a new API or even re-write code. This, coupled with concise documentation and easily accessible technical support, results in a smooth transition and reduced time-to-market. The stability and robustness of the software tool is also critical in reducing time-to-market—the more field-tested the tool is, the better. From a hardware point-of-view, tools that reduce the amount of integration time required are also crucial. A self-contained system in which the processor, frame-grabber and software are integrated by a single vendor guarantees the inter-operability of these components. Therefore, OEMs and integrators spend less time resolving compatibility issues, which allows them to bring their product to market sooner.
Earl Yardley, Industrial Vision Systems: Machine vision solutions are based on a number of "modules" within the complete system—from optics and lighting to hardware and software. The key issue for using rapid development icon-based software is that the software is taken out of the development loop. To illustrate this point: We have just completed an application for label inspection including OCR, presence verification and measurement. We have spent one week on initial design analysis; three weeks on mechanical design for mounting the cameras, lights and optics; one week planning the communication status and control systems; and finally only two hours on software development. And this was completed at the customer's site! The software has now become the easy part of the machine vision jigsaw.
Philip Colet, Coreco Imaging: Both machine vision OEMs and end-users, to a large extent, face similar problems when developing vision applications. End-to-end performance, portability, reusability, scalability, learning curves, and support continue to be the criteria for choosing imaging tools. Technologies such as graphical programming, C++ classes, ActiveX controls, and point-and-click interface all shorten learning curves and development cycles. The critical aspects of end-to-end performance, portability, and scalability of vision applications require highly optimized software and hardware components. Coreco Imaging's SMART series of software, for example, offers users highly optimized software libraries that ensure end-to-end performance, while Mamba hardware brings the architectural advantages of the Wintel platform to embedded vision processing.