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POWERLINK – Bringing vision to automation


What began in 2010 as a common goal defined by B&R Managing Director Hans Wimmer and Cognex COO Robert Willett is now entering the next chapter of what promises to be a compelling success story. Cooperation between vision systems and automation solutions based on the high-performance POWERLINK communication protocol is opening up exciting new perspectives. This is good news for machine manufacturers since integrating these two systems means reduced costs.

One of the foremost real-time communication standards for high-speed automation applications now has a compatible image processing system.

By eliminating components previously needed to trigger processing steps, such as light curtains, this significantly reduces the complexity of machines and systems. Together with B&R Automation Studio, In-Sight 7000 vision systems with POWERLINK interfaces make integrating image processing into all types of automation solutions extraordinarily fast and simple.

Single source solution

The cooperation between B&R and Cognex offers customers all the benefits of a fully integrated solution that unites vision, control, I/O and motion technology for optimum process automation and quality control. The two systems communicate on a POWERLINK network, which makes it easy for machine manufacturers to incorporate them into virtually any system architecture. A key development that helped pave the way for this cooperation was the integration of the POWERLINK standard in the Cognex Connect communication package. Synchronized coupling of image and process data enables highly automated solutions for users on the production line, which results in dramatic increases in productivity – especially for high-performance machines. The overall solution is so seamlessly fused that when developing a project in Automation Studio 4, the user sees no difference between B&R components and the In-Sight camera system. The straightforward diagnostics function allows operators to monitor the system during operation and quickly restore functionality in the event of a breakdown.

The pioneer and the technological leader

Cognex was one of the first companies to introduce professional applications for image processing in the early 1980's. Over the next decade, Cognex established itself as a global player in the field of vision systems, and today it is the market leader in image processing for industrial automation. Vision systems are an essential element of many solutions for the pharmaceutical, automotive, logistics, packaging, aerospace and food and beverage industries. They are used to detect errors, monitor production lines, guide pick-and-place robots and enable parts to be tracked, sorted and identified. With powerful image processing from Cognex, companies are able to improve the quality of their products and sink production costs.

The cooperation between Cognex and B&R

The collaboration between world market leader Cognex and technological leader B&R presents machine manufacturers with the best overall solution for visual quality control. The partnership provides a foundation for developing common strategies and solutions that are optimally tailored to specific customer requirements. "This fusion of the most innovative technologies into a single system is a huge advantage for our customers, and with B&R and Cognex working closely together, each customer will receive the best possible support for implementing their ideas," says Sebastian Sachse, manager of B&R's Open Automation business unit. "Joint appearances by the two companies at events such as the recent roadshows in Italy and Spain have also helped keep customers fully informed," adds Sachse.

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