NIKON’S INSPECT-X AUTOMATION OPC UA INTERFACE
The Industrial Metrology Business Unit of Nikon Corporation continues to demonstrate its commitment to supporting production line inspection and measurement. Its latest new software development, Inspect-X Automation OPC UA Interface, simplifies the way diverse hardware and software on a shop floor – such as a manufacturing execution system, statistical process control system or handling robot – communicate directly or indirectly with Nikon’s X-ray CT (computed tomography) machines.
The company’s existing systems in production lines use an in-house developed IPC interface, which requires working knowledge of the X-ray CT system and a software developer who understands the Nikon IPC contract. While this interface remains in the software for intricate control of all aspects of the system, applications on the shop floor are now supported by the industry-standard, platform-independent OPC UA interface. It means integrators with knowledge of it can integrate third-party industrial, automation and control equipment more easily. Time and costs are saved when installing or reconfiguring production line systems within a single factory, or across multiple connected facilities around the globe.
Nikon’s alignment with the industry-standard OPC UA communication protocol reaffirms its dedication to developing fully automated, non-contact, X-ray CT quality control systems for the shop floor. There is a growing, industry-wide trend towards using this technology for feeding back data in real time to optimize production line operation – the goal being zero defects. X-ray CT is especially relevant, as it can inspect and measure the interior of components non-destructively as well as the exterior.
The approach whereby inspection drives production rather than just identifying faulty parts is called Quality 4.0. The OPC UA interface is now one of the main communication protocols for networking within Industry 4.0 factories, as a common language is needed to simplify secure data exchange between computer-controlled machines and systems, and that is exactly what OPC UA delivers. Nikon is therefore delighted to be one of the first X-ray CT system vendors to implement it.
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