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3D Vision is Making Warehouse Work Safer

Industrial Photonics
Oct 2018
MICHAEL D. WHEELER, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, michael.wheeler@photonics.com

Moving pallets from one corner of a warehouse to another can be taxing and mundane for human workers. But a new generation of autonomous industrial forklifts is making quick work of the job and sidelining human drivers, freeing them to do more value-added tasks. That’s in large part thanks to advances in 3D vision.

Mike WheelerAs Contributing Editor Hank Hogan writes in this month’s cover story, “3D Sensing Bolsters Robotic Guidance,” 3D cameras can quickly locate the pockets of the pallet where the forklift should slide the forks. Gathering this information with a 3D camera results in faster and more certain accomplishment of the task, improving both speed and safety of the operation.

Falling prices for 3D cameras has led to their use in a growing number of unique applications, including service applications where a robot arm is offering a customer a drink or another object. Depth sensing is important in getting the item safely to its target. But as the arm nears its destination, the arm or object it’s holding can block the view. That’s where a 3D sensor can offer a close-up view, improving safety and performance.

Also in this issue:

• One of the shortcomings of CO2 lasers, which emit at 10.6 µm, and fiber lasers, which emit at 1 µm, is that they aren’t particularly well-suited for certain industrial welding applications. Now, a new generation high-power lasers emitting in the blue region is proving highly effective. NUBURU’s Jean-Michel Pelaprat, Mathew Finuf, Robert Fritz, and Mark Zediker offer details in “For Welding Certain Metals, Blue Lasers Offer the Advantage,” (read article).

• Ease of installation and integration in applications such as tire inspection make turnkey vision systems attractive, as Leoni Engineering’s Nick Tebeau explains in “From Vision-Guided Robotics to Smart Cameras, Turnkey Systems Offer Versatility,” (read article).

• As of September, a new regulation requires all Class II medical devices to bear a unique device identifier (UDI) marker. This mandate encompasses numerous single-use stainless steel tools and devices, creating a need to produce high-contrast marks in the metal that can be easily discerned by automated readers. That’s led to an increased need for ultrashort-pulse lasers. Don’t miss “Ultrashort-Pulse Lasers Leave Their Mark,” by Coherent’s Thorsten Ferbach (read article).

Finally, this month marks our last edition of Industrial Photonics. In its place — and just in time for Automate in Chicago — we’re rolling out Vision Spectra, a new publication from Photonics Media chronicling how vision is enabling Industry 4.0. The first issue appears in April!


With best regards,

Editor-in-Chief
Michael D. Wheeler
 

EditorialMike Wheeler

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