Business must continue, especially now that the UK has left the EU. Some early indicators could be very positive for the UK vision industry. For example, the government is encouraging employers to develop automation technology and invest in retaining staff as a consequence of its proposed new immigration policy. By restricting the issue of visas to low-skilled workers, less low cost labour will be available. Machine vision can make a massive contribution to the automation of many industrial processes, although the UK’s current track record on automation is not good.
In 2018, the UK was ranked 22nd in the world for the number of industrial robots installed per 10,000 employees in manufacturing industry. A 2019 report from the House of Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee, observed: “The UK’s low automation adoption is part of our lagging productivity, especially for SMEs, which is preventing a much-needed rise in economic growth, wages and living standards.” It goes on to say: “Where we have a new chance to lead and succeed is with service robotics and in AI, but only if we are supporting British businesses and researchers to innovate.”
We take a good look at innovation in vision in this issue of Vision in Action. While the vast range of proven machine vision technology available could help with automation across numerous industrial sectors, innovation is key for further increases in productivity.
Allan Anderson, UKIVA Chairman
I am delighted to be writing my first foreword for ‘Vision in Action’ as the new Chairman of UKIVA.
I would like to thank outgoing Chairman, Paul Wilson, for his many achievements. We have worked closely together over the past two years and we both have a great sense of pride in helping to make UKIVA’s Machine Vision Conference & Exhibition a reality, with the backing of the team at the PPMA, especially event organiser, Chris Valdes.
This year’s event will take place at the Marshall Arena, Milton Keynes, on 6 June 2019 and all of the indications are that it will be bigger and better than ever. I would also like to take the opportunity to welcome Neil Sandhu from Sick (UK) as UKIVA’s new Vice-Chairman.
At the recent UKIVA members’ meeting, many reported a growing number of enquiries over recent months rather than the slump that might have been expected given the continuing uncertainty over Brexit. The consensus of opinion was that UK firms, who have been behind the curve in terms of investment in automation and Industry 4.0, are now pushing ahead with plans for automation and embracing Industry 4.0. They have realised that, to not invest, would be more risky compared with the possibility of having insufficient labour as a consequence of the change in migration patterns to the UK since 2016. These show a downturn in migration from Europe and an increase in migration from Asia.
The UK has a high overall level of employment, so this change in demographic could affect the available workforce pool for manufacturing. Even a small change in this may impact the opportunities for UK manufacturing to grow, or even just maintain the status-quo based on current working practices. Moving towards increased automation and preparing for Industry 4.0 would not only improve productivity in the short-term, but also stand us in good stead for whatever markets the UK operates in post-Brexit. These preliminary indications look good for the UK machine vision industry to help UK manufacturing continue to grow in the coming years.
Allan Anderson – Chairman, UKIVA
Following the resounding success of the first UKIVA Machine Vision Conference in 2017, we are confident that this year’s event will be even better. As you will see from the centre page spread in this issue of Vision in Action, we have an exciting and educational program of seminars lined up, with two highly topical Keynote Presentations, all supported by an exhibition from more than 60 of the world’s leading machine vision providers. I look forward to seeing as many people as possible at MK Arena, Milton Keynes on May 16th! Visitors can register at: www.machinevisionconference.co.uk/delegate-registration/
I was extremely pleased to take part in the PPMA BEST STEM Day at the Mountbatten School in Romsey in Hampshire back in December and have the opportunity to show the students who attended how machine vision can be used in the real world. Even though the day was compulsory for the 124 Year 10 students who attended, I was impressed by both the level of enthusiasm that they showed and the solutions that they came up with for the tasks they were set. We got some very positive feedback and I am delighted that almost 25% of them have expressed some level of interest in attending a follow-up work experience placement. There is more detail on this STEM day elsewhere in this issue.
Encouraging the engineers of the future to embark on a career in machine vision continues to be an important issue for UKIVA members, and the STEM days are an invaluable way of sowing the seeds with the younger students. One way of providing a pathway into industry is via an apprenticeship, but to date there is no dedicated independent vision apprenticeship. Attendees at the recent UKIVA Annual Members’ Meeting heard presentations from EEF, The Manufacturers Association, on the various
stages involved in establishing such an apprenticeship. This would clearly be a major undertaking both in terms
Paul Wilson, UKIVA Chairman
UKIVA’s Machine Vision Conference and Exhibition, held in May at MK Arena, has again been a major activity for the Association during the early part of the year. I am really pleased that we were able to build on the success of last year’s inaugural event and attract even more visitors than before. This year we included presentations on deep learning at the Conference. These proved extremely popular, so to further satisfy the high level of interest in this topic, we have made it the subject of the main feature and centre page spread of this issue of Vision in Action. We hope you find it interesting! The rest of the Conference was also very well attended, and I was delighted at the number of companies from around the world that supported the exhibition, reflecting the importance of the machine vision market in the UK. There was a great vibrancy and ’feel’ to the day. More visitors, a high quality, engaged audience, happy exhibitors and new business relationships being established mean that the UKIVA Machine Conference and Exhibition is cementing itself as a well-respected event.
I continue to be passionate about training in the vision industry. I am therefore delighted that another UKIVA member, ClearView Imaging, has recently participated in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths) day at school local to them, Lord William School in Thame, Oxfordshire. The day was part of a series of events organised by PPMA BEST, an independent charity, set up by the PPMA Group of Trade Associations to address the on-going skills shortage within the industries served by the Associations and to tackle short and longer term recruitment needs. These STEM days give students still at school a taste of what vision is and what it can achieve in the real world. The aim is to raise interest levels in the subject for students going forward, but there is still much work to do to establish a clear pathway that could lead our engineers and technicians of tomorrow into a commercial career in industrial vision.
Paul Wilson, UKIVA Chairman
This is my first contribution to Vision in Action as Chairman of the UKIVA and it is a privilege to take over at the time of the Association’s 25th anniversary. Many of our members have been involvedin this industry through this entire period and I’d like
to congratulate all those who have recently enjoyed orare about to celebrate milestones of their own.
These are particularly exciting times for the Association as our 25th anniversarycoincides with our first Machine Vision Conference. This has been a major undertaking,since establishing an event such as this from scratch requires a concerted effort frommany people. The Conference organising committee and the experienced team at thePPMA have worked very hard to make the event a reality.
I’d like to thank Ian Alderton, who has just stepped down as UKIVA Chairmanafter 2 years in the role. He has worked tirelessly during his tenure to help theAssociation move forward. I’d also like to congratulate Allan Anderson fromClearview Imaging who has taken over as Vice-Chairman for the next 2 years andwelcome Alastair Slater from Allied Vision, Tim Irons from Dimaco and Chris Pittfrom Stemmer Imaging who have joined the UKIVA committee. I’m sure that we willbenefit from their insights and contributions.
While it is obviously too early to assess the full implications of Brexit for the UK visionmarket, it is certainly true that the weaker pound has led to price rises for many visioncomponents. Nevertheless the VISION Show held in Stuttgart last November was biggerthan ever with a strong attendance from the UK and we have been hugely encouragedby the response we have had by UKIVA members and non-members alike to participatein our Machine Vision Conference. Not only that but we have had to increase the spacefor the associated exhibition by 50% to accommodate the number of bookings we havereceived. There are plenty of indications that the vision market in the UK is still healthyand we enter the next 25 years for the UKIVA with a very positive outlook!
Paul Wilson, UKIVA Chairman
Without doubt the high spot of the Association’s year to date was our first Machine Vision Conference and Exhibition which took place on April 27 at the Arena MK in Milton Keynes. This event was incredibly well received by not only more than 300 visitors, but also by the press and the participants themselves – the presenters and exhibitors, without whom the event would not have been possible. A huge amount of effort went into staging this first event and great credit must go to the team behind the scenes who made everything happen with the minimum of fuss.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank our two Keynote speakers, Dr. Mike Aldred from Dyson Ltd and Dr. Graham Deacon from Ocado Technology. Both of their stimulating presentations attracted huge audiences with standing room only and got the morning and afternoon sessions off to a flying start! I am delighted to say that next year’s event will take place on Wednesday May 16, 2018, once again at Arena MK.
Bookmark www.machinevisionconference.co.uk in your browser to keep in touch with all of the latest announcements.
Before that, however, is the PPMA Show, which will take place on the 26 – 28 September at the NEC in Birmingham. With over 17% of visitors to the last PPMA show having registered vision as being at least one of their interests, no less than 15 UKIVA members will be exhibiting. I am also delighted that PPMA BEST will have a stand presence there, just by the main entrance to Hall 5. PPMA BEST (www.ppmabest.org.uk) is a charity that was established in 2014 to encourage young people to enter and develop a career in engineering within the processing, packaging, robotics, automation and industrial vision supply industries through education, training and support. During the coming academic year, PPMA BEST is implementing a very welcome initiative that will provide an organised pathway to show young students just what a career in the vision and related industries has to offer. You can find out more about this elsewhere in this issue of Vision in Action.
Paul Wilson, UKIVA Chairman
Measurement was one of the first applications of machinevision. With the correct setup of lighting and lens youcan get a good high contrast image and calibrate thepixels to real world co-ordinates. The system will then run forany length of production cycle, giving consistent, calibratedresults. This releases the operator to work more efficiently, thusincreasing productivity and creating jobs. But over recent years the cost of an entry levelcamera has decreased and higher resolution and higher speed systems, especially with thenew CMOS sensors, have become more affordable, opening up even more applications. Also improvements in LED lighting have reduced the power consumption and heatproduced during inspection, reducing the overall system power costs.
I’d like to take this opportunity, on behalf of UKIVA members, to welcome Dr Andrew
Mint as the new CEO of the PPMA Group. Andrew brings extensive experience inproduction innovation, market development and international development to the role.He has established a successful career in the process industries developing cosmetics formajor blue-chip companies as well as managing many significant large globalbusinesses, helping to launch new products and novel technologies into themarketplace. He also has significant FMCG experience having undertaken varioustechnical roles at Procter & Gamble amongst others. We wish him every success in hisnew role.
Finally, I’d like to encourage readers to consider submitting an entry for the ‘MostInnovative Machine Vision Project’ – one of the PPMA Group Industry Awards. Thisaward is judged by a fully independent panel of industry specialists and is not restrictedto UKIVA members. It is open to all vision equipment suppliers, system integrators orend users that have installed an innovative vision system, with recognition for all partiesinvolved in the project. In 2015, the award was won by Multipix Imaging and systemsintegrator, MVT Ltd, with a measurement system for pharmaceutical tablet tracking andinspection – more details elsewhere in this issue. Details on how to enter will bepublished on the PPMA Total show website, www.ppmatotalshow.co.uk/awards
Ian Alderton, UKIVA Chairman
The question uppermost in any UK business at the moment is ‘What effect will Brexit have’ and of course the vision industry is no different. However, the UKIVA is taking a positive step to further stimulate interest in the vision industry in the UK with the announcement that it will be holding its first ever UKIVA Machine Vision Conference & Exhibition (MVC) at ArenaMK in April 2017 – but more of that later.
After the turmoil of the changes in government personnel in the aftermath of the referendum result, things seem to be stabilising more in the country as a whole. One thing we do know for certain is that the value of the pound has dropped significantly against both the dollar and euro. This is detrimental for the UK vision market as there is only a very small manufacturing base and more than 90% of vision components are imported. However, around 70% of UK vision revenue comes from vision solutions and integration projects. In these cases, the vision components can be a comparatively small proportion of the total project cost and so any exchange-rate induced increases have relatively little impact on the overall cost. On the other hand, for the small UK vision manufacturing sector that generally relies heavily on export business, the falling pound has a positive effect.
Fortunately, there are a number of important exhibitions in the next few weeks which will provide a good indicator of the mood of the post referendum vision market. The UKIVA Machine Vision Conference & Exhibition (MVC) is an exciting new event withthe emphasis on a rich program of educational vision seminars. You will find moredetails elsewhere in this issue of Vision in Action, but please make sure that youbookmark the date as it promises to be a major event in the UK dedicated to machinevision. Before that, however, we have the PPMA Total Show at the NEC 27 – 29September, Photonex at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry 12 – 13 October and VISION Stuttgart,8 - 10 November. We hope for a positive response from all of these events!
Ian Alderton, UKIVA Chairman
In my first contribution to Vision in Action since being electedas Chairman of UKIVA in January, I am delighted to report thatthis is the largest ever issue at 32 pages. In just one year it hasgrown from 24 pages to its present size, reflecting not only onthe growing membership of the Association (now totaling over30), but also on the wealth of expertise and experience that they have to offer, and theenthusiasm that the Association continues to have to promote the use of vision. Take alook through this issue and you will see a varied range of applications where vision hasbeen able to solve customers’ real world needs.
We have continued the theme of giving a special focus to one particular aspect ofvision technology in each issue of Vision in Action. This time we are looking at line scantechnology and how recent developments have not only impacted on traditional webinspection applications, but also on a wide range of other applications. I hope you findthese articles both interesting and informative.
I am delighted to have been elected as Chairman of UKIVA. Alrad Imaging has beena member of this prestigious organisation for some 20 years and it is the second timea member of the company has been appointed chairman, Geoff Smith holding the officefrom 1997 - 1999. I would like to take this opportunity to thank my predecessor, MarkWilliamson for his outstanding contribution in the role over the last 13 years, whichincluded helping to steer the Association through its transition from an independentorganisation to becoming a Special Interest Group of the PPMA Group of Associations.Mark has done a great job and his experience and stature in the industry has ensuredcontinuity through the many changes, including the passing of founder member, DonBraggins. I am delighted that he will remain an active of the committee and that hecontinues to be a director of the main PPMA board.
As you will see elsewhere in this issue, we have also restructured the UKIVAcommittee, increasing its size and bringing in some of the newer members and with theresources from the PPMA that we have at our disposal, I look forward to the next phaseof the Association’s development.
Ian Alderton, UKIVA Chairman
The UK is behind the rest of Europe in using Vision and general automation in production. Whilst some people think that bringing in Automation is a threat to jobs, it has been proven to actually increase employment and the skill level of employees as well as productivity and quality.
End of line inspection is one of the most important uses of vision in manufacturing industry with applications on both manufacturing and packaging lines. The combination of vision technology developments and the emergence of specialist vision systems integrators make the use of vision much more practicable. Manufacturers and component suppliers across a broad spectrum of industries rely increasingly on leading-edge vision technology to provide automated quality control and rejection of out-of-spec product.
Machine vision can generate a lot of useful data at all stages of a manufacturing process, not just as a final quality control. This data can be used to identify any problems before the product goes out of tolerance allowing adjustments to be made to the process leading to a reduction in the number of production faults, hence improving the bottom line and generating a quicker return on investment.
You can see and discuss with our members what their systems and products can do for you at two shows this Autumn. These include our own PPMA Show where there has been an increase in UKIVA members exhibiting from 9 last year to 19 this year. We will also be supporting Photonex where we are pleased to be running our most ambitious series of seminars on the latest technology and applications involving vision. There are more details on these elsewhere in this issue.
I look forward to meeting you at both of these events.
Ian Alderton, UKIVA Chairman
Welcome to the largest ever issue of ‘Vision in Action’, which is packed with more editorial content than ever before. The particular focus on 3D imaging and applications in this issue is direct result of the growing interest in and improving affordability of 3D technology. Whilst many ‘3D’ problems can still be readily solved using 2D methods, the use of genuine 3D imaging solutions is definitely on the increase. We hope you enjoy this special feature.
We are delighted to welcome Acrovision, AlphaChase, IDS Imaging Development Systems and Scandinavian Machine Vision as new members to the Association. Growth in UKIVA membership is generally a positive indicator of the strength of the vision market in the UK, and indeed IDS has recently set up a dedicated UK office.
New UKIVA Statistics
As an Association, however, we are keen to quantify UK market trends, and although sources such as the AIA, VDMA and Frost & Sullivan all predict growth in machine vision sales worldwide, there are no hard and fast statistics available that relate solely to the vision market in the UK. To address this shortfall, we are in the process of collecting and collating sales data from UKIVA members, using a completely independent consultant in order to maintain data integrity for each member. This process has been undertaken for some time for BARA (British Automation and Robot Association), providing participating BARA members with an invaluable quarterly and annual benchmark of how the robotics industry in the UK is performing against their own sales. Providing equivalent information for the UK vision market will greatly benefit UKIVA members.
Mark Williamson, UKIVA Chairman
In 1957 the first computer scanner was used to record a 176 x 176 pixel image from a photograph of the son of its inventor, Russell A Kirsch, at the National Bureau of Standards (nowknown as the National Institute of Standards and Technology) inthe USA. Today’s multi-billion pound machine vision industry hascome a long way from these humble beginnings of computer vision. Most industriesexperience highs and lows due to a variety of factors, yet in spite of the difficult economicconditions that have prevailed in recent years, the machine vision industry continues toflourish and I am delighted to see significant growth being reported in the UK vision market.
A survey for 2013 recently published by the VDMA in Germany (one of the largestand most important industrial associations in Europe) showed that the total sales ofmachine vision components and systems from European companies into the UK wassecond only to Germany across the EU. Not only that, but the growth of machine visionsales in the UK was the greatest in the EU, rising by an impressive 23.2% during thisperiod. Many UKIVA members are distributors for European machine vision companiesand so have been instrumental in achieving these sales and yet these figures relate onlyto the vision components and systems sold. Many UKIVA members who are visionsystems integrators will also have benefitted from this period of growth with the addedvalue they offer in terms of integrating vision technology into manufacturingenvironments and OEM equipment.
This increased activity by UKIVA members is reflected in this issue of Vision in Action, which is even bigger than our Spring issue which broke all previous records. We welcome another 2 new members, Industrial Vision Systems and Bytronic Automation who, together with the other members who joined us earlier in 2014, have helped UKIVA grow at its fastest rate this century. As well as the special feature on high-speed imaging, this issue contains eleven application articles showcasing the use of vision in a diverse range of industries. I hope you find the Autumn 2014 issue of Vision in Action both interesting and informative.
Mark Williamson, UKIVA Chairman
The first issue of 'Vision in Action' for 2013 sees UKIVA members concentrating on the more 'traditional' uses of vision for inspection applications in the manufacturing sector. Continuing developments in vision technology improve the speed, accuracy and complexity of measurements that can be made. Two new data transmission standards have recently emerged which will further extend the capabilities of machine vision.
The CoaXPress standard was developed especially for machine vision applications by a consortium of camera and frame grabber vendors. Utilising coaxial cable for data transmission, CoaXPress is characterized by its ability to transmit much more image data than the current Camera Link® and GigE Vision® interface standards, and over distances between 40m and 100m (without the need for repeaters) depending on data rates. The USB3 Vision standard makes use of the recently introduced USB3.0 interface for the mass market. Improved data transfer rates of up to 400 Mbyte/s and the fact that no framegrabber is required has led to a wide range of low cost USB 3.0 cameras coming to market.
These new standards will no doubt open up new applications for vision as well as allowing improved performance in current applications. UKIVA members who are vision technology suppliers and vision systems integrators will be in an excellent position to guide end-users and OEMs to the optimum solution. They can offer experience with either their own CoaXPress or USB 3.0 products or products from the world's leading manufacturers so they will be happy to advise potential users on the best route to take.
Finally, congratulations go to Olmec UK who won the inaugural UKIVA award for 'Most Innovative Machine Vision Project'. This was for the development of a vision system for the final inspection of ear drop dispensers prior to packaging at Thornton & Ross, the largest independent manufacturer of 'over the counter' healthcare products in the UK. This year's award winners will be announced on June 4.
Mark Williamson, UKIVA Chairman
UKIVA members and the vision community as a whole,frequently refer to vision as an 'enabling' technology.For this reason, it is now much less common for visionsystems to be used in isolation – there is a verynoticeable shift towards some level of integration of vision into a process or apiece of equipment. This fact is very evident in this issue of 'Vision in Action',which I am delighted to see is featuring more application stories than everbefore. Applications are described from the automotive, food, pharmaceutical,retail, security, semiconductor and transport industries and all involveintegration to a greater or lesser extent. In general, levels of integration arerising because of the push towards automation in the manufacturing industriescoupled with the fact that it is easier technically and there has been a generalreduction in unit costs for vision components.
From individual components with a choice of inputs and outputs, externaltriggers, industry standard data transfer protocols and easy to programinspection so aware, to smart cameras where the result of an inspection can betransferred over an Ethernet connection, the vision industry is now very much
geared towards lower cost integration. For complex integration projects thereare dedicated vision systems integrators who make a living out of makingintegration work. However, the icing on the cake, as illustrated by one of our
application stories, is the fact that integration of vision with robots has becomemuch easier, and the availability of affordable 3D vision has opened up an evengreater range of applications.
Mark Williamson, UKIVA Chairman
Welcome to the new style UKIVA Newsletter! We have restyled it to give more emphasis to members' activities and now have an exciting lead feature on the front page. We frequently forget just how widespread computer vision has become and the breadth of potential applications while we concentrate on our own niche.
The front page feature is an example of how computer vision can make a fundamental difference to life by helping to automate the diagnosis of bladder cancer and helping the blind 'to see'. In the members Application Stories we also hear how Panther Vision is developing a system to track a users gaze so that quadriplegics can interact with specialist computer soware and gain more independence. Other Application Stories may be more conventional but still address challenging tasks, such as that by RNA with a vision guided robot on a production line making plumbing parts.
It seems that there is always more regulation being imposed but for a change it has created an opportunity for UKIVA members Olmec and Cognex. They have both implemented vision based systems to track pharmaceutical products throughout the production process and to help companies meet stringent pharmaceutical product tracking regulations.
There have been a lot of news items from members and it's been hard to identify which ones to include. The UKIVA has announced the first UK based award for the 'Most Innovative Machine Vision Project' and the UWE is developing a new MSc in Advanced Automation, Machine Vision & Management. USB 3.0 has been talked about for a while and Stemmer has introduced a range of new USB 3.0 cameras that will give a distinct advantage in terms of data transfer speeds and easy integration. Multipix has new products that enable analogue cameras to be linked into GiGe camera networks which could benefit legacy systems.
As the UKIVA Technical Consultant I offer expert advice to members but also general advice to non-members and can help steer them to those most appropriate for their query so I encourage everybody to get in touch.
John Haddon, UKIVA Technical Consultant,
Director, Panther Vision ltd
The latest issue of our new-look newsletter sees the UKIVA celebrating its 20th anniversary. 2012 also sees a number of other milestone anniversaries. The PPMA itself celebrates its 25th anniversary and we congratulate several of our members: Framos 30 years, MultiPix 15 years, Omron 20 years and STEMMER IMAGING 15 years in the UK, 25 years in Europe. As we move into our 21st year, we have reviewed our membership categories to reflect the changing face of the industrial vision industry in the UK and to help existing members, potential new members and vision customers alike.
In our last issue, we highlighted the use of vision in applications away from the traditional industrial environment, and this theme continues here with an interesting article from National Instruments where visitors to the Chelsea Flower Show were able to view plants as a bee would see them, while STEMMER IMAGING highlights the use of vision in sport with analysis of golf ball movement during putting. For some of the more traditional applications the dairy industry has proved popular in this issue. Baumer describe a system to check the presence of straws on milk cartons, SICK UK have a system for inspecting plastic milk bottles and MultiPix Imaging report on the inspection of milk bottle caps! Getting closer to the dairy product itself, Cognex tell us about Datamatrix readers for caesin labels used on cheese products. Olmec-UK have designed a bister inspection system for use in an existing process line and Framos and are involved in a project to monitor material flow using cameras attached to fork liW trucks.
At the time of writing, the finalists for the UKIVA's first UK-based award have been revealed, and the announcement of the winner of 'Most Innovative Machine Vision Project' on September 27th is eagerly anticipated! The autumn period is a busy one for exhibitions, with the PPMA Show and Photonex in the UK and the Vision Show in Germany. Many of ourmembers will be busy at one ormore of these shows and they provide a great opportunity for face-to-face meetings.
Mark Williamson, UKIVA Chairman