Cognex Revamps Vision Solutions to Promote Large Area Scanning on Factory Floor

August 01, 2021 by Shawn Dietrich

Cognex has revamped its vision system technology by bolting a mirror in front of the barcode reader, making it steerable for wide-range inspecrtion.

Cognex Machine Vision

Cognex has been a popular choice as a vision supplier for many machine builders. Cognex specializes in vision systems, vision software, barcode readers, and other components designed for industrial automation. 

Machine vision is an important tool in automation and data tracking. Utilizing vision tools can reduce machine cycle time and improve product throughput.  


High-Speed Steerable Mirror

Cognex is adding to their line of barcode readers called “DataMan.” These readers have been used in the part tracking and data management features of machine automation for many years, and now Cognex is revamping this technology.  


Cognex new steerbale mirror. Image used courtesy of Cognex


A typical barcode reader will be fixed mounted in a location where the barcode will be presented to the reader. Once in front of the reader, a trigger signal will be sent to the reader, and the barcode will be read. Cognex has taken one step further by bolting a mirror in front of the barcode reader, making it steerable.  

The mirror has its own web-based configuration, where the user simply enters parameters into a “wizard,” which calculates and programs the mirror’s scanning pattern. Adding this mirror gives the barcode reader an increased field of view ten times that of its default counterpart. By adding the steerable mirror, one reader can replace multiple readers.  

Moving the mirror changes where the reader is viewing. Cognex designed a setup time of fewer than five minutes for the mirror through the web-based configuration software and a ten millisecond cycle time for the movement of the mirror. If you are doing multiple inspections, more than two, stopping the product may be needed, but not setting up and maintaining multiple readers should offset that caveat. 


Pallet Barcode Reading

Product packaging and shipping is a crucial step in any manufacturing setting, and with shipping real estate being at a premium. The more product you can pack onto a standard-size pallet, the better. When automating this process, you will want to track all of the products on that pallet just like the picture below.


Cognex's high-speed steerable mirror. Image used courtesy of Cognex


Typically there would need to be a reader for each barcode in that picture. By adding a steerable mirror one reader can detect multiple barcodes with a cycle time of ten milliseconds per barcode. This may decrease integration time, overall cost, and lower maintenance costs. 


Extra Large Field Of View

Typically as your field of view increases, so does the working distance. If you need a large field of view, the vision sensor would need to be far away from the inspection area. By adding a steerable mirror, we can change where the reader is looking, making the field of view up to ten times that of the standard reader.  

Some machines or packaging lines do not have the space required for a large field of view sensor. Some applications require reading multiple barcodes in one area, the steerable mirror and reader allow for multiple inspections with one device quickly.  

The steerable mirror comes with integrated web-based configuration software, so users don’t have to spend downtime on updates. Cognex states that the configuration process should only take about five minutes.  

The engineer can define the application and enter a few parameters about the application, and the wizard does the calculation to figure where the mirror should be facing and when. An internal laser aimer helps verify the position of the reader and verifies the mirror program. This mirror, coupled with the DataMan 470 with its liquid lens technology, makes for a unique and potentially powerful barcode reader.