Editor's Choice


A complete control-integrated vision solution from Beckhoff

February 2023 Editor's Choice

Beckhoff Vision offers machine builders and end users a complete image processing system that covers all the necessary components from software to illumination.

Seamlessly integrated into EtherCAT-based control technology, it opens up significant competitive advantages for users, including highly accurate synchronisation with all machine processes, reduced engineering and hardware costs, and simplified commissioning and support. In addition to TwinCAT Vision software, the vision portfolio now also includes the following hardware components:

• VCS2000 area-scan cameras.

• Rugged VOS2000 and VOS3000 C-mount lenses.

• Multicolour LED illumination in bar, panel and ring designs (VIB2000, VIP2000 and VIR2000).

• Complete Vision Unit Illuminated (VUI) units consisting of camera, illumination and focusable optics.

Optimal design and concept for industrial image processing

From the very beginning, the development process at Beckhoff was focused on ensuring optimum suitability for industrial use – both with respect to the individual vision components, and the entire image processing system. Relevant design aspects include the IP65/IP67 anodised aluminum and tempered glass housing, smooth glass surfaces providing high resistance to cleaning agents and other chemicals, various options for flexible mounting and application, and optional shatter protection. Further advantages are offered by the in-house vision development and production facilities, which ensure a first-rate complete solution in terms of technology and quality, where every aspect is perfectly coordinated.

Seamless integration – not only of the individual hardware and software components to form a complete system, but also with the machine control system – opens up huge application potential for industrial image processing and, conversely, optimisation potential for machines and systems. It also means that the vision system can be highly precisely synchronised with all control processes and machine sequences. Implementation in the standard automation application also enables consistency in the interaction of all other components. In addition, the camera system and illumination components can be mounted either separately or together as an integrated unit, depending on the application requirements. The integrated concept also offers significant advantages from a project planning perspective: it reduces the engineering effort and hardware costs, and simplifies system integration, commissioning, and support.

The implementation of real-time applications is also perfectly supported and facilitated by full integration into the EtherCAT system. For example, it is possible to achieve simplified and synchronised trigger generation for image capture and exposure directly from the system. In addition, the vision system can be linked and synchronised easily with all control processes and cloud-based services, and utilises all the usual benefits of powerful and convenient EtherCAT diagnostics. Overall, from a machine perspective, these factors result in increased process efficiency through shorter response times, higher cycle rates and accelerated processing procedures, all with reduced hardware and wiring effort as well as a minimised installation space and system footprint.

Powerful cameras for exact evaluations

The area-scan cameras from the VCS2000 series use colour and monochrome CMOS sensors with up to 24 megapixel resolution to generate high-quality data for industrial image processing. A wide portfolio of established Sony sensors with 3,5 and 2,74 µm pixel pitch is available for different vision tasks and image analysis functions. With their high frame rates and rapid 2,5 Gbit/s image data transmission, the cameras are ideal for automated visual inspection and precise product tracking in EtherCAT-synchronised applications.

The cost-effective 2,5 Gbit/s transmission rate enables the performance potential of the cameras to be fully exploited. It is a prerequisite for efficiently utilising increased frame rates and achieving extremely fast response times via industrial LAN technology with any cable length. What’s more, this makes the vision system a perfect match for the powerful industrial PCs from Beckhoff.

The rugged, industrial-grade cameras support the established international GigE Vision standard and can be used flexibly over a wide temperature range. The lens protection tube with thermally hardened anti-reflective glass ensures the invariability of the focus position and provides high resistance to cleaning agents and handling effects without the need for additional housing. Flexible mounting options and the small installation depth (including connections) in the optical axis also offer exceptional freedom of machine design.

Robust C-mount lenses with mounting-oriented design

The high-resolution lenses of the VOS2000 and VOS3000 series, which can be used universally due to the C-mount connection thread, are ideal for use in harsh industrial environments on account of their rugged and easy-to-mount design. The focus and fixed aperture are easy to adjust and can be locked easily and precisely using compact screws. The lenses also feature a broadband anti-reflective coating from 420 to 1050 nm, which is well matched to the multicolour LED illumination. Moreover, vibration and shock resistance up to 10 g enable reliable measurements in the visible and near infrared range.

Two lens series are available. The VOS2000 is optimally designed for image sensors up to a format of 11 mm, while the VOS3000 is ideal for maximum image resolution with an image circle up to 19,3 mm. In addition to the generally available broadband anti-reflective coating from VIS to NIR, the VOS3000 series offers excellent chromatic aberration correction in the spectral range up to 850 nm for the large image circle.

Flexible, high precision, and energy-efficient illumination

The multicolour LED illumination components, in three designs – bar (VIB2000), panel (VIP2000) and ring (VIR2000) – produce constant lighting conditions for consistently high-quality images. This provides an indispensable basis for precise evaluation in image processing. The illumination creates the best possible contrast between the feature to be inspected and its surroundings – even in spectrally adjustable pulse mode.

The light colour of an illumination assembly can be adusted to object-specific requirements in terms of colour and brightness. Mixing the individual colour channels makes it possible to produce spectrally complete white light. The direct integration of the power electronics into the illumination assembly achieves a high level of brightness, which is essential for reliable freezing when capturing highly dynamic movements. Full integration into EtherCAT allows users to make individual settings in terms of light colour, brightness and triggering for each individual test object.

Furthermore, high-precision control and efficient electronics minimise energy requirements. The EtherCAT P one-cable solution with distributed clock function and the responsive power electronics enable high-precision synchronisation with all machine processes and help avoid unnecessary illumination times. Blue LED chips form the basis for high light output and temperature stability, as well as increased efficiency at high ambient temperatures. The EtherCAT-controlled flash mode reduces the power supply output along with the required cooling effort, while decreasing the overall energy consumption for the illumination.

Complete solution with focusable optics

The Vision Unit Illuminated is a compact unit consisting of camera, illumination and focusable optics with liquid lens technology. It significantly reduces installation and commissioning effort and, due to focus adjustment during runtime, is particularly suitable for applications with variable component heights, such as those found in logistics. All functional components are encapsulated in a visually appealing anodised aluminium housing with IP65/67 protection rating. The thermally hardened and anti-reflective glass ensures high mechanical and chemical resistance in cleaning and handling. The VUI’s EtherCAT P connection is positioned on the side and allows mounting with small installation depth in the optical axis, while large mounting surfaces ensure good heat dissipation. The dedicated ground connection, also located on the side, makes it easy to implement grounding and EMC concepts.

For image acquisition, the PLC controls all settings of the individual functional components (camera, illumination, lens) via EtherCAT during runtime – to a high level of precision and in exact synchronisation with all processes in the application. For example, electronic adjustment of the focus position means that the focus is adapted directly to different working distances. The light colour as well as the intensity and length of the light pulse or the parameters of the camera for image acquisition can also be controlled via EtherCAT. Focusing during runtime is made possible by a robust, position-invariant liquid lens that has very high shock and vibration resistance as well as an extremely long service life due to the high number of cycles.


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