When you hold an apparently simple product like a butter cookie in your hand, you don't expect imaging technologies to have played an important role in its manufacture. However, the imaging industry in the meantime provides important key technologies for the optimisation of many manufacturing processes and for everyday life.
With the help of high quality cameras and the related evaluation software, so-called "industrial image processing" recognises the quality of surfaces and, for example, the colour, and provides a warning when something doesn't correspond to the prescribed standards during production. Butter cookies, for example, are filmed during production and tested for intactness by software. Broken cookies are sorted out and consumers receive cookies that correspond to the visual quality specifications. "Improved quality, increased reliability, more safety and economic efficiency are properties that are in demand not only in industrial production", summarises Christian Müller-Rieker, Managing Director of the photo industry association (PIV).
So it's no wonder that the image processing industry has been reporting sales records and growth in Germany and Europe for years. Sales of the industry doubled within a ten-year period from 2005 to 2015. "We expect the trend to continue upwards, because machines and robots are starting to learn to see with image processing systems, and this key qualification is becoming increasingly important", comments Christian Müller-Rieker. Thanks to the higher resolutions of the cameras, more processor capacity and constant further development of the software, the performance capability of image processing systems is increasing rapidly.
In the budding "Industry 4.0", imaging systems support process optimisation for the producing machines by helping them recognise when maintenance is required. Thanks to the coupling of optical systems and quality specifications, gradual deterioration in the production process is detected at an early date. Automated self-monitoring is also already aiding maintenance in the field of public infrastructures. London Public Transport, for example, uses a rail monitoring system in which two cameras especially developed for this task are mounted directly at the front of passenger trains. They continuously collect data that are evaluated in the night by an image processing system and provide the operators with indications of which rails need to be repaired or replaced.
Image processing is one of the central themes of photokina 2018 from 26 to 29 September 2018 in Cologne. You can find exhibitors with this focus in our exhibitor search as of the end of July.