Perceptron Inc, the company that has long dedicated itself to in-line automotive measurements, has upped its game in recent years with newer technologies, all on display at a Technology Open House it hosted Oct 29 and 30 at its headquarters in Plymouth, Mich.
It is an evolving case study in the merits of concentration versus diversification. While not ignoring other opportunities, the company devotes much effort and technology development on solving the problems of the automotive industry.
That focus has brought rewards. The company announced on October 31, 2019 that its AccuSite Optical Tracking technology is a finalist for the Automotive News PACE Awards.
Perceptron’s technical foundation is its line of laser scanners. These include the Helix-evo and Helix-solo and the V7 blue light laser scanner. In February of 2019, it released its AutoFit solution for gap and flush measurement on transparent head lamps and tail lamps, chrome trim, and painted surfaces.
The technology showcase also featured an optical tracking option that uses photogrammetry and triangulation with a robot mounted Helix scanner to create the AccuSite system that attracted the attention of the PACE committee. AccuSite encloses the Helo laser scanner in a web of LEDs that are tracked by sensors mounted in a bar a few meters away. The combined system does not rely on the robot knowing its position to achieve accuracy. Putting the LEDs around the sensor, it tracks its position in space. The maximum measuring volume of an AccuSite equipped with a Helix-evo is 2.7 m x 2.0 m x 2.0 m. In that volume it boasts a system accuracy of better than 150 µm, according to Michael Bourgeois, product line manager for the company.
“We do not collect a uniform cloud of points and then extract features from that,” explained Bourgeois. “Our software plans on what features you want to collect, say a threaded hole, and then measures that hole.” APG requires a user to flag which features are important. The sensor uses both data from the laser line scanner as well as a gray-scale image from the same image detector to extract measurements. It then extracts and reports various GD&T data for the identified features, though the sensor can also be programmed for wide-area scans to produce familiar color deviation maps.
Perceptron also provides a focused software for robotic measurement planning. The Automated Path Generation (APG) module is a virtual setup of a measurement system that performs robot programming, collision avoidance, and teaches the measurement plan for the customer. APG inputs a CAD model along with attached product manufacturing information (PMI) for semi-automated planning.
“Most of our projects are custom,” said Jeff Boomer, director of marketing for the company. Projects include robotic measurement as well as metrology-guided robotic movement, such as placing doors on body-in-white frames or de-racking sheet metal blanks with precision. Still, to keep up, more accuracy is needed. At least Boomer thinks so. “We are investing in accuracy” for the future, he said.