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TwinCAT Vision

Integrating machine vision into automation technology

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TwinCAT Vision

Product manager Michael Busch presents TwinCAT Vision.
Product manager Michael Busch presents TwinCAT Vision.

PC-based control specialist Beckhoff has expanded its established, highly successful TwinCAT product range to include TwinCAT Vision, an integrated image processing solution. This addition underscores the increasing importance of image processing as a quality factor across mechanical engineering, particularly in applications like Industrie 4.0, quality optimization and track-and-trace.

PC-based control offers an ideal solution here: TwinCAT Vision adds image processing to a universal control platform that incorporates PLC, motion control, robotics, high-end measurement technology, IoT and HMI. This simplifies engineering significantlyi n that it allows camera configuration and programming tasks to be carried out in the familiar PLC environment. In addition, all control functions related to image processing can be synchronized in the runtime system precisely, in real time. Latency is eliminated, and the image processing algorithms execute in real time. This marks a major quality advance over conventional machine vision solutions. With TwinCAT Vision, machine builders can fully integrate image processing tasks into the central control system, paving the way for more advanced machine designs that are capable of satisfying tomorrow’s marketplace demands,and offer enhanced competitiveness and investment security.

A winning edge with TwinCAT Vision

  • Competitive advantage: Incorporating image processing into the overall control system can improve machine efficiency. Machine vision capabilities enhance superior real-time applications.
  • Industrie 4.0 made easy: Integrating PLC, motion control, measurement technology and machine vision functionality with IoT and analytics on a single control platform makes Industrie 4.0 applications much easier to implement.
  • Increased production efficiency: High-precision measurement and exact optical inspection ensure compliance with process parameters.
  • Quality assurance: Applications such as track-and-trace support complete traceability of product quality.
  • Openness: TwinCAT Vision follows the Beckhoff philosophy of open control technology.
    • Hardware-neutral: TwinCAT Vision works both with line-scan and area-scan cameras with GigE Vision interface.
    • Software extensions: Allowing users to access raw camera data and incorporate their own image processing algorithms easily.
  • Cloud connectivity: TwinCAT Vision is integrated into the TwinCAT control platform. It can connect directly to TwinCAT IoT and TwinCAT Analytics. This ensures easy communication with the cloud, enables access to cloud-based services and streamlines Industrie 4.0 applications.
  • Real-time applications: Integrating the PLC, motion control, robotics, high-end measurement technology and machine vision capabilities on a single platform enables superior real-time application performance and significant gains in machine efficiency. It also avoids unnecessary delays in motion and robotics.

Integrated machine vision. Optimized machinery. Higher product quality.

TwinCAT Vision applications.

Measurement

  • distances
  • diameters
  • roundness

Detection

  • pattern recognition
  • position detection
  • color recognition

Identification

  • data matrix code
  • bar code
  • QR code

Monitoring

  • view into the machine
  • simplified service
  • simplified maintenance

Modular by design: from engineering to runtime.

TwinCAT Vision is directly integrated into theTwinCAT Engineering environment. Cameras can be added and configured easily under the new Vision node, and can be calibrated there as well. It is also possible to capture a camera image stream and to feed in the recording instead of live camera images. Alternatively, images in a range of formats can be loaded. This means that, even without camera access, users can still develop and implement image processing procedures. The sequence of image processing is programmed directly in the PLC, in PLC programming languages and using the extensive library of image processing algorithms provided. Integrating image processing into the PLC means that the analysis chain executes in the TwinCAT runtime system, enabling communication with other processes running on the PLC, such as motion control, without latency. All debugging options known from PLC programming are available. Intermediate results can be displayed in the engineering environment or in TwinCAT HMI at any time.

Simplified engineering, optimized runtime performance:

  • easy camera configuration
  • engineering in PLC programming languages
  • analysis chain fully contained in the PLC
  • processing without latency

Easy configuration of machine vision in a familiar environment.

Apart from motion control and I/O configuration, TwinCAT Vision also enables cameras to be configured in TwinCAT Engineering. GigE Vision cameras can be integrated under the new TwinCAT Vision node to be configured according to the GenICam standard. Here, all camera settings can be defined and the results can be directly reviewed in the camera live image. Moreover, cameras can also be calibrated in the engineering environment. Users can choose from a range of calibration patterns, including their own user-specific patterns. Again, they can review the results directly. TwinCAT Vision is fully integrated with TwinCAT and Visual Studio®. All known features such as docking windows and source code management systems are supported.

Configuration and programming in a single tool:

  • Camera calibration in engineering and runtime: For camera calibration, the imaging process is modeled and then described in terms of extrinsic, intrinsic and distortion parameters.This enables position determination and measurement tasks to be performed with high precision. Calibration can be conducted in the engineering as well as in the runtime environment.
  • Integrated camera configuration functions: Integrated camera configuration according to the GenICam standard in TwinCAT Engineering ensures that no other tools are required. The image shows a region of interest being defined.
  • Live view: The live camera image allows configuration changes to be reviewed directly.
  • Camera simulation: Switching between the live camera view and a recorded stream, or enabling stream capture, is easy, without changing a line of code.

Vision and control functions: all programmed for a single platform.

Image analysis is programmed in the PLC itself. An extensive library of function blocks and functions is available that includes contour detection, color recognition, key-point feature extraction and measurement functions. Additional information such as embedded lines or text can be inserted into images in the PLC. The intermediate status at any point along the analysis chain can be viewed as an image in the engineering environment or the TwinCAT HMI. Users can also work with the usual debug options supported by the PLC (to monitor variables and set breakpoints, for instance) and make online changes to the code in image processing algorithms.

All functions combined:

  • object detection
  • measurement, including monitoring of processing time
  • result visualization

All applications synchronized in real-time: Motion control, robotics and machine vision.

Because the image processing algorithms are executed within in the same environment as PLC,motion control and robotics, all tasks can be easily synchronized. Image capture timing is defined precisely – using triggers, for instance – and is easy to coordinate with the position of an axis or robot at a given point in time. Integration of image processing into TwinCAT also simplifies the engineering process. A single tool can be used to configure and program all tasks with ease. Integration also enables machine builders to keep their image processing expertise in house. Since all image processing algorithms are executed in the same runtime and in a synchronized manner, delays that would otherwise occur in communication can be completely eliminated. Overall, these enhancements enable substantial process optimizations.

Products

TF700x

TC3 GigE Vision Connector offers the possibility to integrate GigE Vision cameras directly into the TwinCAT architecture. TF700x is also GigE Vision certified. The cameras are configured in the same development environment as fieldbus components or axes without any third-party software. Triggered from the real-time, image capture and PLC or motion control can be operated in a highly synchronized way.

TF7100

TC3 Vision Base provides an extensive PLC library with a large number of widely varying functions and algorithms for solving image processing tasks, such as e.g. algebraic image operations, filters, Fourier analyses, color image processing, segmentation, contour and blob analysis or results presentation, as well as for reading and writing camera parameters. In addition to PLC, motion control, robotics and measurement technology, image processing is now also available as directly integrated functionality in the TwinCAT system.

TF7200

TC3 Vision Matching 2D expands the TwinCAT Vision functionality by the possibility to find and compare objects based on learned references, contours, feature points or other properties (template matching/keypoint detection and descriptor matching).

TF7250

TC3 Vision Code Reading includes functions for reading various 1D and 2D codes. This provides the basis for being able to check code content directly in real time and to track products during the manufacturing process. It eleminates the need for additional interfaces and runtime delays in communication with external devices.

TF7300

TC3 Vision Metrology 2D offers various options for the detection of edges, holes and circular arcs as well as the determination of lengths, distances, diameters, angles and coordinates, all with sub-pixel accuracy.