Waak BW, a sheltered and social workshop situated in West Flanders, employs 1700 people of whom 1450 with a (work) disability. Our mission is to procure durable and adapted employment for people with a professional disability and enable them for self-development. We have a big variety of activities. This is the result of the diversity of our different employees. There are 2 recent phenomena: recently the skills level of our employees is lower then before and the market is driving towards more complex activities of smaller production series. Competition of low-wage countries is also putting more pressure on the sheltered workshop so that initially there were only 2 options: work at lower margins or loose the business. The main goal of the sheltered workshop is to assure long term employment for the employees. This drove to the implementation of technological innovations. This way tasks with higher added value can be performed. Machine Vision was identified as the technology to guarantee competitiveness and cost reduction. A pleasant side effect is that the employees experience a higher self esteem. Several automated inspection systems have been introduced successfully and more on their way. One of them is to inspect cable trees. Inspection items are :
The correct rubber conduit at both ends
Correct colours of the wires
For this purpose the cable assembly is put in guiders and presented under a camera. If there is an error reported, possibly the operator can correct the fault. If he can’t, he must cut the cable in order to be able to remove it from the test bench. This was realised by WAAK itself, using AVT cameras, Kowa lenses and HALCON software from supplier Data Vision. The reason to choose for Data Vision is: they are the biggest player with a large impressive portfolio. This implies that for future projects we can rely on just one supplier, combining known components with new ones if necessary. Always relying on the excellent support. Having a good and reliable relationship with our supplier results in shorter implementation time for future projects. This is also applicable to the support for the software. It’s a way of being future proof: being able to solve upcoming challenges with well known hardware and software. AVT can offer a wide range of cameras. Data Vision offers one-stop shopping for our vision applications. Finally the choice for HALCON Machine Vision software library was based on the elaborate number of operators. The learning process might be a bit more demanding compared to other packages, but it is a development tool without a “ceiling”. Another technical reason to choose for HALCON was the possibility to measure lengths according to a randomly curved line. The above decisions were not taken lightly. Several competitors, components and Machine Vision software packages were compared and Data Vision in the combination with AVT and HALCON came out as the best.
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