The need to reduce costs, increase productivity, and maintain quality and flexibility is prompting companies to digitize their processes. However, full automation requires a significant investment, so the focus of Industry 4.0 continues to be on optimizing human-machine interactions. Worker shortages, safety standards, and complex tasks only add to the challenge. In response, Optimum Data Management Solutions GmbH has developed “Clever Klaus,” a system to assist manual inspections.
Karlsruhe, Germany-based Optimum specializes in intelligent image processing that combines digitization, database management, and camera technology. It has been automating and optimizing industrial processes for more than 26 years. Clever Klaus combines industrial image recognition using an intelligent database and a high-resolution USB3 industrial camera from IDS Inc.
Obersulm, Germany-based IDS was founded in 2007 as a subsidiary of IDS Imaging Development Systems GmbH. The company said it develops high-performance, easy-to-use USB, GigE and 3D cameras with a wide spectrum of sensors, variants, and industrial applications.
Clever Klaus assists with assembly
Optimum said its camera-based assistant is easy to integrate. Clever Klaus recognizes every step of an assembly process and can assist an employee in real time, said the company. By following the principle of instructing, checking, confirming, and documenting, even complex processes become manageable, it said.
Clever Klaus guides employees step by step with digital assembly instructions. The worker scans the order document, and the assembly process begins. An IDS camera installed above the worktable records the workpiece or individual parts to be mounted. Both operating instructions and error messages appear on a touch monitor in real time. After each successful step, the worker receives a confirmation. Once assembly is complete, the system provides evidence of fault-free production.
“The camera generates the digital shadow,” said Wolfgang Mahanty, managing director of Optimum. “All digital data of the process — when and how what is done — is recorded and processed. This enables the creation of a knowledge base and the subsequent transfer of knowledge to all.”
Maintaining image quality
“The camera has to capture many details and a wide range of variations and provide stable images. Sensory recognition must be reliable — i.e., the sensor must be able to cope with poor or changing lighting conditions,” explained Mahanty. “In today’s factory, the employee should get as much daylight as possible, which can affect the quality of the recording.”
Such conditions do not pose a problem for the UI-3590CP USB3 industrial camera, said IDS. The light-sensitive AR1820HSSC00SHEA0 rolling shutter CMOS sensor from ON Semiconductor uses back-side-illumination (BSI) technology to ensure high image quality even in low light conditions, said the company.
Even when capturing the smallest details, the camera can produce high-resolution images with low image noise, said IDS. With a resolution of 18 MP (4912 x 3684), it reaches a frame rate of 21 fps. “Products are detected with deviations of 1mm on DINA 3,” said Mahanty.
The Clever Klaus team was also impressed by the camera’s compact size in addition to its ease of integration.
Mann + Hummel relies on Clever Klaus
Ludwigsburg, Germany-based Mann + Hummel, a global market leader in the field of filtration, relies on the Clever Klaus assistance system and the IDS camera.
“During the final assembly of our filter components, many manual activities are required,” said Peter Sawatzky, technical manager at Mann + Hummel. “This demands changing devices with very complex and therefore failure-prone sensory queries. The assistance system has convinced us because we make far fewer mistakes.”
New variants can be easily learned during work preparation and can be installed by the worker on the same day, he added. “Our variant management has thus become much easier,” Sawatzky said.
Figure 3: Easy integration into the respective production equipment, simplified variant management.
In addition, the system can be integrated very easily into a production facility, and applications are able to use several camera models simply and cost-effectively as needed. With Clever Klaus, employees can learn new procedures quickly and safely, said Sawatzky.
The assembly assistance system and reorganization of work allow a significant increase in productivity. At the same time both assembly costs and complaints have been reduced with the increased quality assurance. “Since Clever Klaus has been supporting our workers during assembly, the number of complaints has fallen significantly,” confirmed Sawatzky.
Optimum aims to accelerate progress to Industry 4.0
Assistance systems such as Clever Klaus are increasingly accelerating processes and ensuring increased efficiency and quality, particularly in the electronics and automotive sectors, said Optimum. Manufacturing processes run almost flawlessly, are fully documented and can be traced, helping companies to increase productivity and gain a competitive advantage.
Optimum said it is constantly working on making sure that its systems are intuitive to learn and operate. This is done using CAD data, intelligent filters, and artificial intelligence. Virtual commissioning is another step on the way to digitization and Industry 4.0, said the company. Optimum added that Clever Klaus has won several awards.