Nissan turns cameras on its process

13 May 2009

Nissan was faced with a problem when its existing mechanical centraliser could not cope with the new glass sizes for two of its key vehicles. The centraliser locates at six points around the edge of the glass and consistently locates it to a known ’central’ location in preparation for the next stage of the production process. Therefore it was imperative that a new vision system could provide accurate information for the two new models and adapt easily to product future developments.

With all these elements in mind, Nissan approached Capley Marker, an approved Cognex PSI (Partner System Integrator).

The system was supplied for use on the Nissan Micra and Note production lines. The key project requirement was to determine the glass type on the line, which could be one of four variants; Micra fixed side window right hand side (RHS) and left hand side (LHS); Note fixed side window RHS and LHS. A similar system is used on a second line, which produces the Qashqai.

Two In-Sight 5100 cameras are used on this line with one camera placed in each cell, which is on the side of the assembly line. Each camera is fixed at the required height by a rigid steel stand mounted to the cell base. The In-Sight cameras use Cognex’s PatMax technology. PatMax utilises advanced geometric pattern matching technology to reliably and accurately locate parts.

The cameras provide a Fanuc six-axis robot with RJ-2 control, with two vital pieces of information. Firstly, a digital signal from the camera is sent to the robot confirming the glass variant. Then, a serial string is sent from camera to robot with the co-ordinates of the glass so the robot picks the glass up in the same position each cycle. The exact co-ordinates measured are X, Y and the angle of the glass on the vision part of the cell (front to back, side to side and twist).

The robot locates the glass from the data supplied by the vision system, manipulates the glass edge through a fixed nozzle that applies a continuous bead of mastic to the glass edge and finally transfers the glass to an offload position where the operator picks up to apply to the vehicle. The co-ordinates are located and relayed directly to the line robot to ensure the robot can access the glass.

Rory McCrystal, the project engineer responsible for the installation commented, ‘This vision system provides accurate and reliable readings, essential for our production lines. The system will better support new product introduction as it is more flexible than before. Based on this improved flexibility it is predicted that there will be a significant reduction in changeover time during future new product introduction.’

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