Industrial automation is being disrupted by LED technology. In order for businesses to raise autonomy levels in large-scale production facilities, powerful automated LED machine systems systems must be deployed to support detailed inspections, signaling and smart notifications.
For instance, when used with CCD cameras installed over a moving conveyer belt, DC voltage-powered LEDs do not display flickering at 100 Hz, allowing for clear recordings and monitoring. The lights may also be dimmed down to zero percent with minimal effort for robust control.
Read on to understand how LEDs are disrupting machine vision and automated manufacturing.
- 1. Machine Light Signaling
Like traffic lights, operators of automated machines rely on illuminative notifications during monitoring. These small units light up when parts of the machine are in use. For example, in a pick-to-light system, LEDs are applied to alert the assembler about the installation sequence during production. An attached light sensor within close proximity to the luminary detects movement on the output trays, which notifies the system when the assembler is working on a specific component.
In such applications, LEDs can be used to comply with new industrial lighting standards, such as the EG-regulation 244/2009 (updated in 2011). Due to their energy efficient features, the lights are being utilized to replace outdated 60-watt (or above) units that cannot meet Class C and E standards set by the European Union.
- Streamline Packaging and Inspection
In large-scale manufacturing and packaging operations, LEDs play a vital role during inspections. For instance, businesses typically install LED fixtures with non-breakable housings under filling machines. Inspectors looking for unaccounted tablets that could potentially lead to cross contamination rely on the fixtures to keep production lines moving smoothly. Without the lights, individuals would have to stop production during manual inspections. For even lighting, systems with surface-mounted LEDs, coupled with a diffuser are deployed across the backlight.
When it comes to the aesthetical properties of packaging, the lights may be leveraged to maintain alignment of labels and seals. LEDs have evolved greatly to accommodate such applications. These days, the lights come with waterproof (up to IP69K) and shock proof features. As a result, workers could use the same light for inspections during hose-down sessions.
- Identification of Essential Components
LEDs offer versatility during output, allowing engineers to customize its power, wavelength and optics for special applications. In machine vision, operators use the lights to support imaging and verification of drilled holes, component positions and sizes of small parts. Moreover, infrared (IR), ultraviolet (UV) and colored LEDs are being used to identify weaknesses (cracks, warping and other inconsistencies) and low quality products (rotting fruits, discolored vegetables and damaged goods) on the production line.
By comparison, traditional lighting technologies, including incandescent or fluorescent lamps, are not suitable for automated machine applications, due to their short lifespan (between 1,200+ and 8,000+ hours) and unpredictable performance. The solid-state design of LEDs also allows it to withstand rough treatment, making it less prone to premature failure. With form factor being a top priority for businesses in fast-paced manufacturing, the compact, modern luminaries are quickly replacing their outdated counterparts at a rapid pace.
Below is a shortlist of automated LED machine systems carried by Larson Electronics:
- LED light emitter (140 watts, IP67 waterproof, aluminum housing)
- Underwater LED light (12 watts, multiple color options including infrared, low voltage)
- Portable magnetic mount LED light emitter (60 watts, 200lbs grip, IP68 waterproof)
- LED boat light (60 watts, color and beam type options, low voltage)
- Permanent mount LED light (90 watts, 8100 lumens, shock/vibration resistant)