Open software platform with far-reaching potential
The first UKIVA Machine Vision Conference saw the launch of Sick’s AppSpace, and provided an early opportunity for developers and end-users to experience its far-reaching programming potential first hand. Hailed as an exciting new ‘eco-system’ for bespoke application development, Sick AppSpace gives users unprecedented flexibility to exploit Sick’s growing range of smart vision systems and intelligent sensors.
Sick AppSpace is supported by the new Sick SIM4000 Sensor Integration Machine, a high-performance, one-box, multi-core processor that can integrate multiple cameras and sensors together with powerful image processing. The SIM4000 offers up to 25 interfaces for Ethernet-based fieldbuses, cameras, illumination, sensors and encoders. Its functionality includes 10-gigabit Ethernet interfaces for 2D or 3D cameras, and in some cases features a voltage supply over Ethernet (PoE). Sensors including RFID and laser scanners can also be integrated via IO-Link for distance and height measuring purposes.
Data from Sick sensors and vision devices can be merged into a point cloud, evaluated, archived, and transmitted via the SIM4000. It can be used in factory and logistics automation for multi-sensor or camera-based inspection for measurement and identification, as well as for data acquisition, archiving for quality control, process analysis or predictive maintenance.
Neil Sandhu, Sick’s national product manager for imaging, measurement, ranging and systems, says: “Sick AppSpace is all about integrating hardware and software to achieve user-specific requirements efficiently through made-to-measure sensor apps. SICK’s programmable sensors, such as the new Inspector P family of programmable 2D vision cameras provide the foundation. The SIM4000 Sensor Integration Machine then enables multiple device image processing and data collection, where needed.
“Meanwhile, on the software side, the solution encompasses the Sick AppStudio for application development and the Sick AppManager for implementing and managing apps in the field. The Sick AppSpace Developers Club forms the final part of the concept. This is a growing community where developers from Sick and our customers can exchange information and ideas.”
With Sick AppSpace, developers have the freedom to design, develop and deploy their own customised solutions, perfect easy-to-use web-based graphical user interfaces for operators and distribute their applications across multiple hardware platforms and locations.
Developers have access to industry-standard image processing libraries including Halcon. They can work with their preferred programming technologies including graphical flow Editor, the widely used and powerful Lua scripting tools as well as C++ or Java. There are many integrated support functions such as auto completion, so that programmable sensor app developments will insert themselves easily into existing development processes.
Helpful utilities such as emulators, debuggers, resource monitors, and an extensive range of documentation and demo apps also make the development process easy. All software components are combined by the PackageBuilder into a single package that safely defines access rights.
Sick can already point to a host of customised solutions. One is in the inspection of the control elements for white goods products, as part of service life testing. A robotic system with a Sick programmable InspectorP65x camera, enabling the test finger on the robot arm to be directed to the operating element in a repeatable and precise manner. The sensor app in the InspectorP65x is programmed in such a way that the camera mounted on the robot arm detects the operating element using the reference image, and uses it to determine the position of the pushbuttons. The values are sent to the robot.
In the PCB industry, there is a wide range of inspection and identification tasks due to the huge variety of electronic components, plug connectors, and other components. to ensure the required product quality as well as consistent traceability along the individual production steps, industrial image processing is often used here. The SIm4000 Sensor Integration machine is used with two picoCam304x 2D streaming cameras. AppStudio is used to program the application.
“Sick AppSpace opens up amazing potential for specifically-crafted application solutions and for integrating multi-sensor data input,” concludes Sandhu. “In the Industry 4.0 organisation, whatever the application, global connectivity will be complemented by very specific individual and localised solutions with distributed, decentralised intelligent hardware and software integration. The Sick AppSpace eco-system will be the creative platform that supports this development for Sick customers for many the years to come.”
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