We contacted several presenters from Automate 2013 in order to get a consensus of the conference as well as to give them the opportunity to pass on their experiences and impressions of the industry as a whole. Here are their responses.

Interviews from Automate 2013

Various Presenters from Automate 2013

We contacted several presenters from Automate 2013 in order to get a consensus of the conference as well as to give them the opportunity to pass on their experiences and impressions of the industry as a whole. Here are their responses.

 

Dr. David Michael - Cognex Corporation

Please tell us a bit about yourself and the presentation you gave at Automate 2013? 

I am Director of Core Vision R&D at Cognex, a machine vision technology company based outside of Boston, Massachusetts.  My presentation at Automate 2013 was an Advanced Class in Calibration and Metrology for Machine Vision. The class is part of the Certified Vision Professional curriculum for the AIA (a worldwide imaging and vision trade group).  In addition to educating attendees about Calibration and Metrology, the presentation gave me an outstanding opportunity to interact with system integrators and end users of machine vision

What were the key takeaways from the presentation and participation by attendees? 

Besides stressing the importance of 2D and 3D calibration in machine vision applications, there were three key takeaways. First, calibration contributes to good measurement accuracy. Next, the calibration process can detect problems in your system or set-up. Finally, some of the calibration results allow estimating overall system accuracy. In addition I provided rules of thumb for calibration and metrology for the practitioners including tips on how to fixture cameras and lenses, how to best configure your system, and how to choose a good calibration target.

What was your overall opinion about the show?

I thought the combination of Automate 2013 and ProMat was interesting and the show appeared to be quite well attended with decent traffic on the days I was there.  The technology trends on the Automate side seemed more about improved integration than about new breakthrough technologies. On the ProMat side, however there seemed to be a fair bit of excitement around better automation of logistics including robot shuttles replacing forklifts and vision-based high speed barcode reading replacing laser-based scanners.

Was there one trend on the Robotics spectrum that stood out to you?

There was more focus on ease of use, integration, and success stories in Robotics rather than on breakthroughs.

What segments of the industry were mainly represented by the attendees at your presentation?

There were a broad range of attendees at my presentation. Most were integrators and sophisticated end-users from industries that ranged from pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturing to manufacturers of military ammunition.

How often do you present and at which other shows and conferences?

I have presented at other AIA-sponsored conferences and at The Vision Show.  I have also presented at IEEE-sponsored computer vision conferences.  Cognex also attends and offers presentations at many tradeshows and conferences serving automation suppliers in vertical markets such as PackExpo, ProMat, and AutomationFair.

How do you see the future of the Robotics Industry unfolding over the coming years?

I see the use of Robotics and Automation becoming more important in manufacturing world-wide.  Within the Robotics Industry 2D Vision is becoming mainstream and significant energy is being devoted towards adopting 3D Vision technology.

Are there any disruptive technologies that you foresee for the Industry?

Ease of use at lower cost points feels disruptive.  We are seeing automation increase rapidly in China where labor costs are no longer so low that  automation is no longer only for increased quality and consistency but also about controlling costs. The ease of use at lower cost also makes manufacturing in the USA more competitive globally. 

 

Dr. David Michael received the B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Cornell University, Ithaca, NY in 1985 and the S.M. degree in Radiological Science and Ph.D. degree in Computer Vision from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA in 1986, and 1992 respectively.  He joined Cognex Corporation in 1992 where he is currently Director of Core Vision R & D.  He has authored or coauthored approximately 50 issued US patents in different aspects of machine vision including calibration, image registration, color, image processing and inspection.


 

 

John Phillips - Pleora Technologies

Please tell us a ​bit about yourself and Pleora Technologies?

Sure, I’d be happy to. I’m a senior product management professional with a fair bit of experience in bringing new software and hardware products to market. At Pleora, we sell video interfacing technology―software, hardware, and firmware―that enables video transmission in high-performance applications. In some cases, this is an OEM board or FPGA IP core for an embedded system, while in other cases, it’s an enclosed transmitter that acts as an alternative to a frame grabber.

What was your overall opinion about the show?

It was well-organized, and had some great keynote speakers and exhibitors. Plus, we always welcome an opportunity to connect with our partners and industry peers in the machine vision industry.

Was there one trend on the Robotics spectrum that stood out to you?

This was my first time at a trade show that was so focused on robotics, so everything stood out! Perhaps the most interesting thing was the speed and complexity of maneuvers performed by many of the robots. It really highlights the need for low latency video transfer from the robot to the image processing system, and also highlights how much quicker and more powerful PCs that run image-processing algorithms have come in such a short time span.

How do you see the future of the Robotics Industry unfolding over the coming years?

Typically robots and humans have to work in separate areas of the manufacturing floor due to safety concerns. But with robots becoming more accurate in their movements, it’s becoming safer for humans and robots to work in the same space. I also think that there will be an increase in the use of autonomous robots, especially in non-traditional settings like hospitals, office buildings, and warehouses. In sum, as vision systems in robots gain greater levels of sophistication, so too will their usefulness and safety.

Are there any disruptive technologies that you foresee for the industry?

Increased wireless bandwidths will change things dramatically. With new standards on the horizon like IEEE 802.11ac, it’ll become feasible for the robot’s image processing system to be positioned elsewhere, rather than inside the robot itself. For free-roaming robots, this means the robot can be lighter, which can increase its speed, decrease its weight and size, increase its battery life, or some combination of these. Plus, the greater bandwidths available with IEEE 802.11ac will make it possible to transmit video from the camera to the image processing system with little to no compression. Since compression affects latency, this will help to develop robots with virtually no degree of error in their movements.

Pleora was also a presenter at Automate. Can you tell us the topic of your presentation and what you felt were the key takeaways for attendees?

Yes, we were pleased that Dr. Xuemei Wang, who is a Senior Application Engineer with Pleora, was asked to speak on a panel titled “Understanding and Implementing Emerging Technologies in Vision.” In particular, she focused her presentation on advanced GigE Vision configuration options, as well as the transition to GigE Vision over 10 GigE, needed as a result of increasingly sophisticated sensors coming onto the market.

How often does Pleora present and at which other shows and conferences?

Pleora is an exhibitor at about five to seven trade shows a year. And we’re always happy to share our experiences and knowledge with attendees. I’d say the largest event for us is the VISION show that is held in Stuttgart, Germany every year. We sign-on as an exhibitor and for the past few years we’ve had the honor of being selected as speaker during the Industrial Days presentations. For example, last year, I spoke on video interfacing technology in Medical Imaging.

 

Pleora Technologies’ John Phillips brings a broad background―product management, product marketing, and strategic marketing―to his experience at Automate 2013. Robotics Tomorrow caught up with this Canadian senior manager to hear his thoughts. 


 

 

Benjamin M. Dawson, Ph.D., M.S.E.E. - Teledyne DALSA, Inc

Please tell us a bit about yourself and the presentation you gave at Automate 2013?

I develop machine vision algorithms and do technical marketing for Teledyne DALSA .  My presentation at Automate 2013 was on Color Machine Vision (CMV).  The course covered how CMV is used to measuring object colors, find colored objects (for example, for robot guidance), inspect product quality (for example, fruit), sort objects, and encode information in color (for example, color bar codes).

What were the key takeaways from the presentation and participation by attendees?

A model of color imaging formation was used to point out the difficulties in measuring color.  The base problem is that the color of the illumination, the objects’ colors, and the camera’s color responses are confounded – multiplied together – so it is difficult to reliably measure the color of objects from the camera’s responses unless you control the lighting, object presentation (view), and know the camera’s spectral responses.  I also discussed human color vision as object colors are often specified in relation to human color vision.

What was your overall opinion about the show?

Good attendance for Chicago in January!  The combination of robots and vision is not new but there is new excitement about what can be done with the combination due to performance and cost improvements in both elements.

How often do you present and at which other shows and conferences?

I give this color presentation every year at the AIA show.  Each time, I refresh the material with new examples, things I’ve learned, and (I hope) make the material clearer and more accurate.  I also present our products at trade shows a few times a year.

Are there any disruptive technologies that you foresee for the Industry?

I’m not qualified to speak on the robotics industry, but I have two ideas on the vision side of the business.  First, the recent availability of robust, single camera, 3D vision will make many robot tasks – typically pick and place – faster and more reliable.  I would say “cheaper” but that will happen only after the cost of 3D vision has been amortized by the providers. 

Second, we are going to see more integration of machine vision for product quality inspection integrated into robots.  My impression is that vision is now mainly used for pick-and-place kinds of tasks.  I expect the same cameras guiding the robot will be used to inspect the product as it enters the manufacturing cell, is examined by the robot, or is picked.


 

 

Reid Hunt - Product Line Manager - Kollmorgen

Please tell us a bit about yourself and the presentation you gave at Automate 2013?

Personally, I enjoyed the chance to present and I find myself involved in motion control purely out of desire.  I am very thankful for that.  It seems that way quite a bit in automation, and even more so with robotics and high-end motion control.  I was excited to present the applications to the group.  We really have a tough time finding customer’s that are willing for us to talk about applications openly.  It was the right timing.  We recently launched several products that allowed us to solve some automation and motion problems for two customers that were open to sharing.  I don’t like just talking about technology; nobody believes you until you show them how a customer uses it.

What were the key takeaways from the presentation and participation by attendees?

Expect more out of your motion vendors.  They should pack lots of power, flexibility, and control into whatever device you purchase.  It takes some time for engineers to hit on the right solution some times.  They have preconceived notions about how things should be done, or what type of devices are needed.  In my example, we are using a controller embedded in a servo drive to do a full automation system, which includes both motion control and general automation control.  Please keep in mind that this product is not a robotics controller though.  We do have product platforms suitable for robotics, but this product is built to synchronize events and motion in a machine setting.  We do plan to add more coordinated motion capabilites to the platform my presentation highlighted in 2013. 

What was your overall opinion about the show?

To be brutally honest, the turnout was less than desired.  There were plenty of vendors and I especially liked seeing some of the vision systems.  I hope that the promotion of the event grows.  We should have something to rival SPS here in the US.

Was there one trend on the Robotics spectrum that stood out to you?

I did not have as much time to talk and see the floor as I would like.  I do see an overall resurgence in the robotics industry.  The technology is getting cheaper.  I am not sure if I saw clear evidence of this at the show, because people do not hang pricetags on the products.  Robotics is moving into material handling more and more.  Case packing and warehouse automation are two areas that have seen growth.  I saw some of that over on the Promat side of the show.

What segments of the industry were mainly represented by the attendees at your presentation?

I couldn’t tell.  I did not get to talk to all of them.  I saw some end users, but also some exhibitors.

How often do you present and at which other shows and conferences?

Couple times a year.  Pack Expo was a focus for us last year.  SPS is a major show for us every year. 

How do you see the future of the Robotics Industry unfolding over the coming years?

Cheaper. Easier to program and change.  I expect to see more robots that may not have the speed and accuracy, but can be used to eliminate repetitive human based tasks that have not yet been in the price range of a robot so far.  We will see robotics replacing manual labor and to do that, the costs have to come down for many markets and they have to be easily adapted to new tasks.  You will see developed countries adopt this first.  It is a good way to compete with LCR’s.  The challenge is to get a high degree of freedom with a low cost and easy setup and change over.  

I think semi markets will continue to refine, but those guys are continuing to squeak every ounce of speed and accuracy.

Are there any disruptive technologies that you foresee for the Industry?

I am not sure if this counts for robotics, but the warehouse based automated guided robots/vehicles will continue to get a foothold.  Not sure if that is disruptive.  It replaces human labor, so it is not a technolgy vs. technology situation.  This is also the case for AGV’s in medical applications replacing/helping nurses.  These will morph into more humanoid robotic vehicles rather than just dispensing and video stations.  

I am sure there are some disruptive software technologies that threaten change in robotics.  Software based synchronization over traditionally hardware based synchronization seems to be a trend in general automation.  When the performance gets up there, you will see more of it in robotics. 

 

Reid Hunt holds the position of Product Manager for Kollmorgen Industrial Automation's controls based products. He is responsible for commercialization of current controls product lines as well as setting the direction of future developments. He has broad experience in multiple industries and disciplines. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering and a Masters in Business Administration from Virginia Tech. Reid began his career working as a petroleum engineer with Schlumberger focusing on both exploration and production data acquisition. In 2005 he began working in the motion control field for Kollmorgen as an application engineer. Subsequent roles included product specialist and project manager for drives and controls with Kollmorgen.

 

Bob Rochelle - Food and Packaging Industry Specialist - Staubli Corporation

 

Please tell us a bit about yourself and the presentation you gave at Automate 2013?

Industrial Robots are the heart of Lean Manufacturing and the “Getting Started with Robotics” presentation covers topics intended to be an introduction to Industrial Robotics or Flexible Automation.  You will learn through discussion, photos and videos about various robotic based flexible automation systems.  You will be exposed to the robotics industry to include who’s who, a brief history and an illustration of the various types and applications of commercially available industrial robots.  In the Robot Technology section you will learn the basics of how a robot functions, brief fundamentals of programming and anticipated maintenance.  In the Systems Section, we will review the components of a flexible automation system, the reasons to choose flexible automation, the process of successful implementation and the potential road blocks to success.  In the Business section, we will explore the Business Case for Robotics and finally we will explore the 10 common mistakes in Robot Integration.

What was your overall opinion about the show?

It was excellent.  Much better than past Automate shows due in part to the fact that the robotics industry is in a major growth phase right now.  I was very pleased with the number and quality of the leads

Was there one trend on the Robotics spectrum that stood out to you?

People are starting to want to use the PC or PLC to control the robot cell and make the robot controller a dumb motion control device.  Good news for us is that we have a patented system to do this!

What segments of the industry were mainly represented by the attendees at your presentation?

Very varied.  The good news is that out of about 80 attendees, only 2 had attended an Automate show in the past and only about 8 - 10 actually used robotics today.  This Fundamentals presentation is aimed at new comers to the industry so this demographic was real good news.  And it speaks to the industry's current growth spurt outside of the automotive industry

How often do you present and at which other shows and conferences?

I am a frequent speaker.  This year I will do the RIA's Safety Conferences, Fabtech,  The International Water Jet Conference,  3A SSI Annual Meeting, the Food Safety & Manufacturing Summit & probably others if asked.

How do you see the future of the Robotics Industry unfolding over the coming years?

Higher Speed, lower cost, new applications, more vision, The PC / PLC Controllers

 

Bob Rochelle has a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Engineering from Virginia Tech and holds numerous US and International patents in the automation and food packaging fields.  He has been in the Automation Industry for over 25 years and has held positions in Engineering, Engineering Management, Sales and Sales Management.  

He is currently the Food & Packaging Industry Specialist at Staubli Robotics with responsibility for managing new business activities in these two major growth industries for the Robotics Industry.  

Bob is a veteran seminar and conference speaker for various industry groups, has taught at both the University and Community College level and is a frequent author for technical journals.   He is currently the Committee Chair to write a Sanitation Standard for industrial Robots deployed in the Food Industry and previously served on the RIA Board of Directors.



 

Mattias Johannesson, Ph.D. - Sr. Product Development Engineer - Vision Systems - SICK         

Please tell us a bit about yourself and the presentation you gave at Automate 2013?

I have worked with 3D camera and systems R&D since the early nineties when I did my PhD studies at Linköping University. Part of this research led to the development of the Ranger family of 3D cameras; the first was introduced 1994 and we have made several generations since then. Our systems are based on laser line triangulation, or sheet-of-light range imaging, and the unique feature is our own sensor design. The sensor implements the peak finding in each column, thereby getting a reduction from a 2D frame to a 1D profile directly on chip.

The presentation at Automate gave an overview of the most common and useful 3D imaging technologies, and discussed their pros and cons for different applications.

What were the key takeaways from the presentation and participation by attendees?

I hope that the attendees got a basic understanding of the limitations and features of most of the common 3D technologies. For instance what the fundamental differences between stereo and time-of-flight is. Hopefully they can now approach a 3D vision problem and have an idea on which technology to apply that can fit.

What was your overall opinion about the show?

Interesting, but from my Vision perspective a bit too heavy on Robots. I think the expert huddles was a good idea, discussions are always a good learning experience. There were also a lot of interesting things happening on the ProMat side.

Was there one trend on the Robotics spectrum that stood out to you?

Many showed 3D-camera based bin-picking systems, and based on commercial Primesense (e.g. Kinect) technology rather than industrially developed sensors.

What segments of the industry were mainly represented by the attendees at your presentation?

I think Vision Integrators, but I am uncertain about which industries they concentrate on.

How often do you present and at which other shows and conferences?

This is the 3rd year I teach this same class at the AIA Advanced Vision Professional trainings. I will give a talk at Machine Vision Applications in Japan in May, and have guest appearances at Linköping University coarses in Image Processing / Image Sensors.

How do you see the future of the Robotics Industry unfolding over the coming years?

I believe the 3D-camera empowered robots (finally) will become more mature and thus make systems like generic bin-picking more a reality than a curiosity.

 


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