History of Automated In-Line Accurate Measurement (March 1, 2020)

Blog 1 - 2020
Looking Back ...

Prior to the advent of automated in-line measurement, the traditional dimensional quality control strategy in the automotive body shop relied on sampling production with off-line CMM machines in temperature-controlled measurement rooms. The metrology science and techniques for touch probe contact measurement were developed in the 1970s by metrology engineers in collaboration with the CMM companies. The quality engineers operating the CMM machines were highly trained metrology specialists. The absolute accuracy of the typical CMM machine in the automotive body shop could reach 0.010mm in a local area, but when assessed throughout the machine volume, a more typical accuracy of 0.100mm maximum error was more often the reality with dual arm configurations.

When Perceptron introduced plant floor hardened automated in-line measurement in the mid-1980s, the focus was on 100% measurement data and statistical process techniques for process variation reduction. The repeatability of the Perceptron technique was typically less than 0.100mm 3-Sigma. The systems were good for relative measurement typically achieving relative accuracy error on the order of 10% due to crudely measured relation from sensor coordinates to part coordinates.

And the debate over 100% vs sampling began. One big question was what to do with the overload of data? Another was how much is enough accuracy? Data confidence also became a big challenge as the laser optical technique applying image processing were subject to influences that affected the results differently than the CMM touch probes. The desire to have traceability of the in-line measurements drove a process of correlating and offsetting the in-line measurements relative to the CMM and this became a major effort for the quality engineers in the measurement rooms.

In the late 1980s, Perceptron invented and patented a technique for calibration of the in-line measurement stations directly into absolute coordinates. The technique made use of theodolites referenced to the part coordinate origin and a calibration target measurable by both the theodolites and the measurement sensor’s laser. The relation from sensor coordinates into absolute part coordinates was generated for each sensor and stored and applied to the measurements. This technique typically achieved absolute accuracy within 0.250mm when applied to fixed mounted sensors. This reduced the CMM correlation and offset process, but the differences between optical and touch probe techniques remained.

In the early 1990s, interest in flexible automation and measuring with robots positioning sensors, rather than fixed mounted sensors, for each checkpoint was growing—particularly in Japan and Korea. This was driven partly by the desire to run multiple models on a single line rather than single model dedicated tooling.

Error from robot repeatability and thermal drift had to be overcome, and Perceptron and Nissan developed high-accuracy measurement robots with rectilinear axes to allow straight forward linear thermal drift error correction. The measurement data was processed to optimize the numerically controlled tooling—an early instance of Industry 4.0 level of automation and information exchange. This was followed by techniques for applying kinematic model-based thermal compensation to standard industrial robots to reduce measurement error caused by robot thermal drift. Absolute accuracy was initially still achieved by reference measurement techniques at each checkpoint, such as the theodolite or eventually laser tracker, but results were never as accurate as with fixed-mounted sensors.

During the early 2000s, techniques to calibrate robots into absolute coordinates and sustain that calibration were developed and refined with a goal to simplify the use of measurement robots and increase the flexibility of the in-line measurement stations. The robot kinematic models and compensation techniques became more sophisticated and accurate. The industry-leading techniques developed by Perceptron to compensate for the absolute error of the robot TCP position and the relation from sensor coordinate to TCP coordinate to part coordinate could be relied on to achieve an absolute volumetric accuracy approaching 0.250mm. Standards were also developed and adopted for validating and comparing volumetric accuracy of the automated systems, such as the ISO 10360-8.

More recently, Perceptron has pioneered major advances such as optical measurement techniques and 3D point cloud laser sensors, such as the Helix sensor family. Helix was developed to produce measurements that exactly match the CMM touch probe techniques, virtually eliminating this long-standing correlation error factor. Perceptron developed self-learning software for compensating measurements such that plant floor temperature-induced dimensional changes of the measured part do not influence the measurement results. Software for split cycle configurations where different checkpoints are measured on different cycles have been introduced to maximize the in-line checkpoint coverage. And off-line programming techniques, including the use of Digital Twins to fully simulate automated systems, have simplified the programming and maintenance of the automated systems.

Accurate Automated Measurement Integral to Industry 4.0 (February 21, 2020)

Whitepaper
Background

Automated measurement for automotive body dimensional control was introduced in the mid-1980s by Perceptron with the invention of cost-effective, non-contact laser optical sensors and image processing techniques. This innovation combined with newly available CPUs, data storage, and graphical user interfaces enabled non-contact, 100% measurement of critical checkpoints on every assembly produced. The new automated measurement paradigm was an alternative to sampling at off-line gauges and Coordinate Measuring Machines (CMMs). The 100% sampling provided data insights for process control strategies 25 years before this was considered a critical element of Industry 4.0.

Surprisingly, while the use of off-line gauges in the automotive body shop has greatly diminished, the use of CMMs has persisted. To a large degree this is due to the desire to have traceability of the automated gauges, but also due to the CMMs' more dependable accuracy and flexibility. However, recent breakthroughs enabling traceable accuracy and efficient programmability of automated measurement cells has finally closed the gap. Traceable, flexible, and efficiently programmable, the new generation of automated measurement is now deployed in-line, near-line, and off-line in the body shops and at tier suppliers. In 2020, led by Perceptron, automotive manufacturers and suppliers are now realizing the full potential of automated measurement as the principal measurement standard and an integral part of their industry 4.0 initiatives.

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ACCURATE AUTOMATED MEASUREMENT INTEGRAL TO INDUSTRY 4.0 - Final - no figures_Page_1

Perceptron Announces North American Order for Multi-Robot AccuSite (January 23, 2020)

Perceptron Announces North American Order for Multi-Robot AccuSite®

Accurate In-Line Solution for 100% Measurement of Automotive Assemblies

PLYMOUTH, Mich., January 23, 2020 — Perceptron, Inc. (NASDAQ:PRCP), a leading global provider of 3D automated metrology solutions and coordinate measuring machines, today announced receiving an order from a global automotive manufacturer for an absolute accurate in-line system to measure vehicle bodies utilizing Perceptron’s breakthrough AccuSite technology.

“The ability to use multiple trackers combined with the CMM level accuracy AccuSite offers is a game changer for our customers. Accurate, traceable, and fast measurement results on the plant floor provides the information our customers need to automate and simplify their inspection process, troubleshoot problems in real-time, and increase overall productivity,” commented Rick Van Valkenburg, Vice President Global Sales and Marketing for Perceptron.

For this project, six AccuSite Trackers are used to track four robots equipped with Helixevo sensors scanning seventy-five features on the complete Body-In-White assembly. Accusite provides the ability to automatically scan surfaces and measure discrete features at line speed to CMM level accuracies using the same sensor and system controller. The AccuSite Trackers continuously monitor and record each robot’s position, removing all robot mechanical and thermal instability from the measurement data. Results are immediately displayed at the station for containment, quality assessment and stored for future part and process analysis with Perceptron’s full suite of data analytics.

Van Valkenburg added, “Another differentiator for winning this project was Perceptron’s ability to use the customer’s pre-defined robot and communication standards instead of expecting the customer to compromise and use a ‘one size fits all’ system. Perceptron has put nearly 40 years of innovation and customer feedback designing, manufacturing, installing, and supporting non-contact metrology and robot guidance systems on the plant floor into AccuSite making it a zero-compromise solution for our customers and partners.”

About Perceptron

Perceptron (NASDAQ:PRCP) develops, produces and sells a comprehensive range of automated industrial metrology products and solutions to manufacturing organizations for dimensional gauging, dimensional inspection and 3D scanning. Products include 3D machine vision solutions, robot guidance, coordinate measuring machines, laser scanning and advanced analysis software. Global automotive, aerospace and other manufacturing companies rely on Perceptron’s metrology solutions to assist in managing their complex manufacturing processes to improve quality, shorten product launch times and reduce costs. Headquartered in Plymouth, Michigan, USA, Perceptron has subsidiary operations in Brazil, China, Czech Republic, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Slovakia, Spain and the United Kingdom.  For more information, please visit www.perceptron.com.

 

Safe Harbor Statement

Certain statements in this press release may be “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, including the Company’s expectation relating to the ability to successfully develop and introduce new products and expand into new customers and markets.  When we use words such as “target,” “will,” “should,” “could,” “believes,” “expects,” “anticipates,” “estimates,” “prospects,” “outlook,” “guidance” or similar expressions, we are making forward-looking statements.  We claim the protection of the safe harbor for forward-looking statements contained in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 for all of our forward-looking statements. While we believe that our forward- looking statements are reasonable, you should not place undue reliance on any such forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date made. Because these forward-looking statements are based on estimates and assumptions that are subject to significant business, economic and competitive uncertainties, many of which are beyond our control or are subject to change, actual results could be materially different. Factors that might cause such a difference include, without limitation, the risks and uncertainties discussed from time to time in our periodic reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including those listed in “Item 1A – Risk Factors” of our Annual Report on Form 10-K for fiscal 2019 and of our Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q.  Except as required by applicable law, we do not undertake, and expressly disclaim, any obligation to publicly update or alter our statements whether as a result of new information, events or circumstances occurring after the date of this report or otherwise.

Perceptron Announces Order for AccuSite® in Robot Guidance Application (January 9, 2020)

Perceptron Announces Order for AccuSite® in Robot Guidance Application

Optical Tracking Improves Productivity for Robotic Manufacturing

PLYMOUTH, Mich., January 9, 2020 — Perceptron, Inc. (NASDAQ:PRCP), a leading global provider of 3D automated metrology solutions and coordinate measuring machines, today announced receiving an order for nine AccuSite® optical tracking systems for precision robot guidance and metrology applications.

“Perceptron continues to innovate with our manufacturing partners by developing technology to maximize solution value. We have expanded our AccuSite technology beyond accurate in-line metrology to provide the greatest possible precision for robot guidance applications,” commented Rick Van Valkenburg, Vice President Global Sales and Marketing for Perceptron.

In robot guidance applications no part is perfect, and no process is perfect; therefore, there are two goals to achieve optimal part placement. Goal one is removing the variation introduced by these two factors. To achieve this, Helix sensors are installed around the assembly to measure key locating features and then send an offset to the robot to correctly place the part in the assembly. Goal two is removing the variation caused by any changes in the robot due to temperature and mechanical drift. An AccuSite Star is mounted on the robot’s end-of-arm tooling and the AccuSite Tracker captures its precise position. Based on this measurement, a secondary offset is calculated and sent to the robot ensuring precise placement.

Van Valkenburg added, “Perceptron provides the most flexible set of solutions in the industry allowing for the implementation of state-of-the-art applications like this one. In this project we are utilizing fixed and robot mounted sensors, absolute accurate optical tracking, and data sharing across systems to minimize sensor count and footprint, improve overall system performance, and reduce measurement cycle times.”

About Perceptron

Perceptron (NASDAQ:PRCP) develops, produces and sells a comprehensive range of automated industrial metrology products and solutions to manufacturing organizations for dimensional gauging, dimensional inspection and 3D scanning. Products include 3D machine vision solutions, robot guidance, coordinate measuring machines, laser scanning and advanced analysis software. Global automotive, aerospace and other manufacturing companies rely on Perceptron’s metrology solutions to assist in managing their complex manufacturing processes to improve quality, shorten product launch times and reduce costs. Headquartered in Plymouth, Michigan, USA, Perceptron has subsidiary operations in Brazil, China, Czech Republic, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Slovakia, Spain and the United Kingdom.  For more information, please visit www.perceptron.com.

Safe Harbor Statement

Certain statements in this press release may be “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, including the Company’s expectation relating to the ability to successfully develop and introduce new products and expand into new customers and markets.  When we use words such as “target,” “will,” “should,” “could,” “believes,” “expects,” “anticipates,” “estimates,” “prospects,” “outlook,” “guidance” or similar expressions, we are making forward-looking statements.  We claim the protection of the safe harbor for forward-looking statements contained in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 for all of our forward-looking statements. While we believe that our forward- looking statements are reasonable, you should not place undue reliance on any such forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date made. Because these forward-looking statements are based on estimates and assumptions that are subject to significant business, economic and competitive uncertainties, many of which are beyond our control or are subject to change, actual results could be materially different. Factors that might cause such a difference include, without limitation, the risks and uncertainties discussed from time to time in our periodic reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including those listed in “Item 1A – Risk Factors” of our Annual Report on Form 10-K for fiscal 2019 and of our Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q.  Except as required by applicable law, we do not undertake, and expressly disclaim, any obligation to publicly update or alter our statements whether as a result of new information, events or circumstances occurring after the date of this report or otherwise.

Contact:
Investor Relations
investors@perceptron.com

Perceptron Names Bill Roeschlein Interim Vice President, Finance and CFO (January 7, 2020)

Perceptron Names Bill Roeschlein Interim Vice President, Finance and Chief Financial Officer

PLYMOUTH, Mich., Jan. 07, 2020 — Perceptron, Inc. (NASDAQ: PRCP), a leading global provider of 3D automated metrology solutions and coordinate measuring machines, today announced that Bill Roeschlein has been named Interim Vice President, Finance and Chief Financial Officer, effective January 7, 2020.  Mr. Roeschlein will report directly to Jay Freeland, Chairman of the Board and Interim President and Chief Executive Officer.  The Company plans to initiate a search for a permanent CFO under the guidance and direction of Perceptron’s Board of Directors.

“Perceptron is a well-established brand in the global metrology market, one led by a first-class board of directors committed to maximizing shareholder value,” stated Bill Roeschlein, Interim Vice President, Finance and Chief Financial Officer of Perceptron.  “I am excited to join the management team as together we position the Company for its next phase of growth.”

“Bill is an outstanding talent, one whose experience as a former CFO of several publicly-traded technology companies position him as an ideal interim fit during this transitional period,” stated Jay Freeland, Chairman and Interim President and CEO of Perceptron.  “At a strategic level, we remain focused on a combination of targeted sales growth and cost reductions throughout our organizational structure, the combination of which position us to drive margin expansion moving forward.”

Mr. Roeschlein has over 25 years of experience leading finance organizations at companies of all sizes.  Previously, he served as Chief Financial Officer for Intermolecular until its recent acquisition by Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany.  Earlier, he served as Chief Financial Officer for Power Integrations and Selectica, Inc., both formerly listed public companies.  He has also served in multiple finance leadership roles with other global companies.  He started his career at Coopers & Lybrand after receiving his BA in Business from UCLA.  Mr. Roeschlein also has an MBA from Cornell University.

About Perceptron®

Perceptron (NASDAQ: PRCP) develops, produces and sells a comprehensive range of automated industrial metrology products and solutions to manufacturing organizations for dimensional gauging, dimensional inspection and 3D scanning. Products include 3D machine vision solutions, robot guidance, coordinate measuring machines, laser scanning and advanced analysis software. Global automotive, aerospace and other manufacturing companies rely on Perceptron’s metrology solutions to assist in managing their complex manufacturing processes to improve quality, shorten product launch times and reduce costs. Headquartered in Plymouth, Michigan, USA, Perceptron has subsidiary operations in Brazil, China, Czech Republic, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Slovakia, Spain and the United Kingdom.  For more information, please visit www.perceptron.com.

Safe Harbor Statement

Certain statements in this press release may be “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, including our expectation as to our fiscal year 2020 and future results, operating data, new order bookings, revenue, expenses, net income and backlog levels, trends affecting our future revenue levels, the rate of new orders, the timing of revenue and net income increases from new products which we have recently released or have not yet released, the timing of the introduction of new products and our ability to fund our fiscal year 2020 and future cash flow requirements.  Whenever possible, we have identified these forward-looking statements by words such as “target,” “will,” “should,” “could,” “believes,” “expects,” “anticipates,” “estimates,” “prospects,” “outlook,” “guidance” or similar expressions.  We claim the protection of the safe harbor for forward-looking statements contained in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 for all of our forward-looking statements.  While we believe that our forward-looking statements are reasonable, you should not place undue reliance on any such forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date made.  Because these forward-looking statements are based on estimates and assumptions that are subject to significant business, economic and competitive uncertainties, many of which are beyond our control or are subject to change, actual results could be materially different.  Factors that might cause such a difference include, without limitation, the risks and uncertainties discussed from time to time in our periodic reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including those listed in “Item 1A: Risk Factors” of our Annual Report on Form 10-K for fiscal 2019.  Except as required by applicable law, we do not undertake, and expressly disclaim, any obligation to publicly update or alter our statements whether as a result of new information, events or circumstances occurring after the date of this report or otherwise.