Software program, AI High of Thoughts in Omron’s New 3D AOI System

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Picture of Brad Ward discussing Omron's latest 3D AOI system, the VT-S730.
Brad Ward (Supply: Omron Inspection Group)

To fight shadowing and secondary-reflection points that inspection methods encounter whereas producing 3D profiles of PCB solder joints, Omron took its flagship VT-S730 3D AOI system and upped the ante, mentioned Brad Ward, technical supervisor for superior sensing and inspection options at Omron Automation Americas.  

“We entered a brand new period—3D AOI—about 10 years in the past. And there have been many classes discovered via the final decade, from a {hardware} and software program perspective, about what’s and isn’t wanted, what works and what doesn’t,” he mentioned, standing in entrance of the improve, the VT-S1080, on the Omron Chicago Proof of Idea Middle. “So, this new era was designed to take all these classes and ideal the {hardware} inside a 3D AOI methods—in order that we are able to transfer past {hardware} and deal with software program and AI in trade 4.0.”  

Solder joint inspection is thought to be probably the most difficult a part of AOI (automated optical inspection) on PCB meeting strains. So, Omron’s aim is to assist producers arrive at “extra steady, correct, and dependable 3D profiles of each single solder joint,” Ward mentioned.  

Omron’s inspection methods division, with 35 years of AOI expertise, launched the VT-S1080 within the Americas market about one 12 months in the past. “As we proceed to beat provide chain limitations and logistics challenges within the Americas, we anticipate our native set up base of the brand new platform to shortly catch-up to its recognition we’re seeing in Europe and Asia,” he mentioned.     

“Within the Americas, we’re simply beginning to see it start to take off. And it’s probably not devoted to any explicit market or trade. We have already got methods in operation at OEMs and contract producers.,” he added. “We have now them in excessive tech trade. We have now medical clients utilizing them, too. So, everyone’s , and now we have much more installations in course of, simply ready for these machines to make their method over from Japan.”  

Going past the machine  

The 3D AOI system is “all brand-new {hardware} and know-how designed to do every thing higher. So, it’s an Omron high-speed digital camera mixed with a brand-new era of digital projectors—and all of that mixed with a way more refined and versatile illumination unit, to permit us to raised steadiness shade inspection with white mild inspection alongside all of the 3D functionality that it’s doing by default,” Ward mentioned. “After which the processing of all that data—tons and tons of information—is going down behind the scenes, by way of new software program improvements and AI, to realize a extra steady, correct, and dependable 3D profile of each single solder joint.”   

That interprets to conquering shadowing and secondary reflection points skilled throughout PCB solder-joint inspection.    

Ward describes these points as “two totally different sides of the identical coin: Shadowing is the place we principally can’t penetrate into areas with the illumination as a lot as we’d like. And secondary reflection is the alternative: It’s an excessive amount of illumination, the place it’s bouncing across the neighboring elements and creating havoc with the 3D knowledge we’re making an attempt to gather.”  

The VT-S1080 was designed “particularly to beat these issues, and that’s precisely what it’s doing,” he mentioned. “We’re seeing precisely what we wished to see and what our clients have been hoping to see, which is a good decrease false name fee and even higher defect-detection capabilities.”  

False calls or over-rejects—”the AOI figuring out one thing that it thinks is unhealthy however actually isn’t, that’s waste,” Ward mentioned. False calls require human operator intervention. “And the extra false calls you introduce into the method, after all, the extra inefficient the entire thing turns into and the much less confidence you’ve gotten within the AOI machine.”  

AI upgrades are to not be hurried  

The VT-S1080 is “anticipated to have a for much longer platform life,” he mentioned. “It’s designed to be extra simply and readily future-upgraded as new imaginative and prescient {hardware} turns into accessible, for instance. We are able to swap out the present era Omron high-speed digital camera for no matter’s coming subsequent.”   

“It’s additionally packed stuffed with way more Omron industrial automation units. So we need to do all of the issues that we are able to do with Omron know-how in management: predictive upkeep, higher traceability, pulling knowledge out of the machine itself, and higher connectivity to different units, together with different Omron inspection methods, after all.”  

Lastly, Omron believes the brand new 3D AOI system will enable it to “cease focusing a lot on the {hardware} and put our improvement time and assets into extra software program, particularly extra AI” to innovate and proceed pushing the bar for the automated inspection course of.  

AI upgrades will probably be chosen rigorously, Ward famous. “There are various issues that we are able to do, nevertheless it turns into a query of what ought to we do and what’s secure to do. We’re inspecting mission-critical merchandise the place failures can have dire penalties, so simply because we are able to introduce AI to make selections doesn’t imply that’s the precise name or the accountable factor to do. We’re taking a really methodical strategy when rolling out AI and making these kinds of selections.”  

That strategy consists of rolling out AI improvements in Omron’s personal manufacturing amenities as beta websites, he mentioned. “So, it’s undoubtedly coming, possibly not at a very lightning tempo—however that’s by design.”  

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