The Xiris Blog

Don't Miss the Latest Weld Camera Technology at Fabtech 2013

Posted by Lisa Colling on Tuesday, November 12, 2013 @ 12:54 PM

At Xiris, we love new technology. As engineers, we get excited when we see new, better ways of doing things.

Fabtech 2013 will feature the latest in automated welding technology.

That’s why we’re so eagerly awaiting Fabtech 2013, which is being held Nov. 18-21 at McCormick Place in Chicago. More than 35,000 attendees and 1,500 exhibiting companies are expected at this year’s Fabtech, making it North America’s largest event for the metal forming,  fabricating, welding and finishing industry. 

Fabtech is an annual highlight for us—not only because it’s a chance to share Xiris’ innovations, but also because we get to check out all the other new technologies on display. We learn and get inspired.

You can find Xiris at booth #N2217, where we’ll be demonstrating our XVC-O Weld Camera with High Dynamic Range imaging, which allows operators to monitor the entire weld process in real time, with a clear view of both the super-bright arc and the dark background. This video previews what you can learn about this valuable emerging technology at our booth.

Xiris will exhibit its Weld Cameras for remote weld monitoring at Fabtech 2013.The XVC-O will also be featured in the booths of Magnetic Analysis Corp. (#S3503), and Praxair (#N1432). Meanwhile, Xiris’s XVC-S Weld Camera for Sub Arc Welding will be shown at the booths of Airgas/Red-D-Arc (#N1174) and Koike (#N806).

Both the XVC-O and XVC-S can increase output, lower costs, and improve quality for fabricators. On Tuesday (Nov. 19), from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Room S405B, our president, Cameron Serles, will be discussing these benefits in relation to pipe cladding applications.More details on the presentation are here.  

If you’re planning to be at Fabtech, we know that it means you care about leading-edge technology just as we do. We look forward to seeing you there and sharing in the enthusiasm!

If you’d like to set up a personal demonstration of our Weld Cameras, please call 905.331.6660 ext. 258 or email us at sales@xiris.com.


Images courtesy of Fabtech.

Topics: camera selection, weld camera, High Dynamic Range, Tube and Pipe welding

High Temperatures? No Problem for the XVC-O Weld Camera

Posted by Dean Zhao on Friday, November 08, 2013 @ 02:49 PM

Some specialized welding processes, such as Orbital Welding processes used at nuclear power generation facilities, are done in a high-temperature environment where the base metal is often preheated to over 260° C (500° F) to ensure proper welding occurs. To be able to properly monitor the process, a Weld Camera should be used, but it has to be able to operate in the high-temperature environment.

To make sure the Xiris XVC-O Weld Camera could operate under such conditions, we put it to the test in our laboratory.

We placed the XVC-O in a high-temperature cooling kit that included a thermal blanket and air cooling, and then we subjected it to a temperature of 278° C (532° F) for four hours in a heat chamber.

 

The Xiris Weld Camera with High Dynamic Range imaging is placed in a heat chamber for testing.

Cooking the XVC-O!

 

By applying cooling air into the cooling unit, we kept the interior of the XVC-O within a comfortable operating temperature of less than 40°C (104°F) through the entire four hours using only 0.275 m3/minute (roughly 9 CFM) of airflow —more air could have kept the camera even cooler.

 

The Xiris XVC-O stays cool in extreme heat using a cooling kit.

Our Cooling Kit kept the XVC-O at below 40° C.

 

The result of our experiment proves what we expected— that an XVC-O equipped with such a cooling kit will be able to function effectively over long periods of time, even in the excessively high temperatures of nuclear power generation facilities.

This is good news for the nuclear power industry because the harsh environment inside nuclear facilities calls for Weld Cameras to be used to monitor the welding process, so that operators can monitor welds from a safe, remote location, away from higher levels of radiation. 

If the weld camera has High Dynamic Range imaging capability (such as the XVC-O), operators can clearly view in real time the entire visual range of the weld scene, including both the super-bright arc and the much darker background. This enhanced weld visibility can facilitate substantial productivity and quality assurance improvements to the welding process.

The high-temperature testing we did in preparation for the XVC-O’s use in nuclear facilities is just one example of Xiris’s commitment to continually testing our products to ensure they work in the most extreme of welding conditions. You can also read our blog on how the XVC-O performed when we tested it in extreme cold.

Topics: remote monitoring, camera selection, weld camera, weld environment

New Video Explains How Weld Cameras Can Help Your Business

Posted by Cameron Serles on Thursday, October 31, 2013 @ 12:24 PM

Xiris has been providing camera-based weld monitoring solutions for 25 years, but we’ve never been as excited about a technology as we are about High Dynamic Range imaging. By allowing operators to view both the super-bright arc region and the dark background at the same time, High Dynamic Range imaging provides productivity and quality-control benefits well beyond what Weld Cameras have been able to provide before.

The dynamic range of a camera refers to the amount of light variation it can tolerate. Standard cameras have a dynamic range of about 1,000:1, which means they can image a feature that’s 1,000 times brighter than the darkest feature in the image.

But that’s not enough dynamic range for welding, where the range of brightness can easily exceed 1,000,000:1. That’s why High Dynamic Range imaging is so important for Weld Cameras—with it, a Weld Camera can image a range of brightness greater than 1,000,000:1.

How can this technology help your company improve profitability?

To answer that question, we put together a short video on what the Xiris XVC-O Weld Camera with High Dynamic Range imaging can do—and how it can positively impact your bottom line. Take a look. We think you’ll be glad you did.

Xiris video explains the benefits of Weld Cameras with High Dynamic Range imaging.

Topics: remote monitoring, camera selection, weld camera, High Dynamic Range

Determining Total Cost of Ownership for Weld Cameras

Posted by Cameron Serles on Friday, July 26, 2013 @ 05:33 PM

When comparing capital equipment investment options, it’s important to calculate the total cost of ownership (TCO) for each potential investment.

Signature on Sales Contract (640x534)Purchase price is important, particularly because of cash flow issues, but TCO is the cost number that matters most in the long run. That’s because it includes not only the purchase price but also the ongoing costs for the lifetime of the equipment—costs that often far exceed the purchase price.

Therefore, if you’re considering an investment in a Weld Camera, you’ll need to project the TCO for each camera you’re evaluating. This is the only way to get meaningful comparisons between the Weld Cameras on the market, as well to other remote monitoring options.

Cost Factors for Weld Cameras

When calculating the TCO for Weld Cameras, the costs you should be concerned about include:

  • Equipment operating costs.
  • Routine maintenance.
  • Repairs.
  • Shipping, replacement, and rework costs due to defective output.
  • Downtime due to equipment failure.
  • Warranties, including renewals.
  • Licensing.
  • Training of operators to use the camera.
  • Additional personnel that will become necessary.
  • Computer hardware and software.
  • Infrastructure retrofitting.
  • Migration expense of converting from old systems.
  • Testing.
  • Electricity.
  • Insurance.
  • Scalability expenses.
  • Decommisioning.
  • Replacement cost.
  • Administration.

Equipment operating cost can easily be the largest cost in a TCO calculation, and a Weld Camera with a higher upfront cost will often be a better value because of the productivity gains it provides. Similarly, a Weld Camera that results in improved quality control can lower defect costs, offsetting higher costs in other areas.

For example, a Weld Cameras with the latest High Dynamic Range imaging technology is able to produce better images of all aspects of the weld scene—detail of the intensely bright region of the open arc as well as its dark surrounding background—without any need to stop the process for lighting adjustments. The productivity and quality control benefits that can be gained from such a Weld Camera will be so much greater than from a camera that can’t simultaneously image both brightness extremes that it dwarfs any difference in purchase price.

Also crucial are durability and reliability, which directly affect many of the costs listed above.  For this reason, there’s a lot of value in a Weld Camera that’s well-engineered and can stand up to harsh welding environments.

Replacement cost is a factor that in particular highlights the importance of a Weld Camera’s durability, in that durability usually translates into longevity, thereby reducing TCO per period.

The risk of a Weld Camera’s technology becoming outdated also should be considered, although this risk is difficult to quantify. The point is to take into account the likelihood that a particular Weld Camera will fall so far behind the technological curve that staying competitive forces an upgrade before the camera’s budgeted useful life is exhausted.

Conclusion

There’s a lot more to determining the cost of a Weld Camera than its sticker price. To make the best investment in a Weld Camera, you need to look at the total cost of ownership for each camera you’re evaluating, including its cost-saving benefits.

 

Image courtesy of WordRidden, Creative Commons.

Topics: remote monitoring, camera selection, quality control, weld camera

10 Competitive Advantages Provided by Weld Cameras

Posted by Cameron Serles on Wednesday, July 10, 2013 @ 11:39 AM

Realizing the potential of technology to improve their automated welding processes, progressive fabricators turn to automating their welding processes to achieve greater quality control, productivity, and safety from their equipment.

A key element of a successful welding automation installation has to be the use of a Weld Camera.  Improvements in camera technology and  image processing have made it possible to supply Weld Cameras with High Dynamic Range imaging, which dramatically improves the ability of operators to remotely view the critical details of a weld process.

A weld tip can be more than 10 million times brighter than the background metal around it, but standard cameras are only able to image a range of brightness of about 1,000:1 (i.e. 50-60 dB).  This had historically limited the effectiveness of using cameras for remote weld monitoring.

Weld Cameras with High Dynamic Range imaging provide many advantages in automatic welding.However, Weld Cameras such as the Xiris XVC- O, with High Dynamic Range imaging capability in excess of 10,000,000:1 (140+ dB),  allows operators to have greater visibility of the weld process than possible using other equipment. That’s because other equipment, such as a standard welding helmet, simply suppress the light intensity, filtering out the details of the weld environment in the darker regions, leaving only the brightest portion of the scene. High Dynamic Range imaging, on the other hand, captures a high level of detail in both the super-bright arc region and the dark surrounding region to provide the operator a complete view of the features of the weld.

The XVC-O Weld Camera can be used for virtually any type of welding process.  When installed as a component in a welding cell, the improved remote visibility provided to the operator generates many benefits to the fabricator, including these 10 key competitive advantages:

  1. Less set-up time. Being able to see all the details of the weld scene allows faster set-up of the weld gun and components, boosting productivity.
  2. Better process control. High Dynamic Range imaging provides a clear view of the weld tip for improved input control. The direct view of the welding arc and the surrounding work environment allows for real-time, perceptive adjustment of the weld torch, weld bead, and tool alignment. This naturally results in increased productivity and quality assurance.
  3. More arc on time. The XVC-O Weld Camera results in greater run-time productivity because it can see all the relevant weld details without stopping the process to change lighting and make adjustments (e.g., setting wire length and torch position).
  4. Reduced cost of scrap and in-field failures. The improved process control possible with High Dynamic Range imaging reduces mistakes and prevents defective product from being shipped, which enhances customer loyalty.
  5. Troubleshooting. Using the high-detail video recording capability provided by the XVC-O Weld Camera, welding problems can be quickly detected and pinpointed before their cost and scope escalate.
  6. Continuous Improvement. The video record can also be used to identify opportunities to improve the welding process, as well as to better train operators on a continuous basis.
  7. Health and safety. The health and safety advantages of remote weld monitoring cannot be overstated—by monitoring a weld process remotely, the operator is freed from the immediate threat of long-term health risks, and operating in what can be sometimes a very unpleasant work environment. Not only does this lower health and safety costs, it helps attract better-qualified welders and operators, who quite reasonably prefer to monitor the welding process remotely when possible. With a Weld Camera, these benefits can be achieved, especially if it is equipped with High Dynamic Range imaging.
  8. Corporate Image.  As the capabilities of Weld Cameras become more widely known and used, it appears likely to become the ideal standard in the welding industry. Early adopters can use the capability now to help win customers, provide a competitive advantage, and attract higher-quality employees who place a value on being able to use the best technology.
  9. Flexibility.  Because the right type of Weld Camera, such as the XVC-O, can be customized to work in any type of welding application, the image quality can be optimized for that welding process, generating the best quality of image.
  10. Reliability. The XVC-O Weld Camera carries the Xiris product guarantee for quality and reliability. Once installed and in place, the XVC-O will become “invisible” to the automation process, doing its job without disrupting your work flow.

To learn more about how fabricators can improve their profitability with the latest Weld Camera technology, download our free whitepaper, “Eight Ways to Improve Welding Productivity Using a Weld Camera.” 

Image courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org.

Topics: remote monitoring, camera selection, weld camera, welding automation

XVC-O Weld Camera: No Aperture Required!

Posted by Cameron Serles on Thursday, June 27, 2013 @ 04:32 PM

In order to properly image an open arc weld and its background, a Weld Camera with High Dynamic Range imaging capability is required to properly capture the extreme variation in brightness that could occur at the weld head—a variation that often exceeds 10,000,000:1.

To achieve a High Dynamic Range image, the incoming video signal needs to be modified to suppress the portion of the signal where there is not much content, leaving the portion where there is lots of content. Because there are fewer details per level of increased brightness, the much-brighter arc-weld portion of the image can be compressed more than its darker background areas.

The background areas, however, have much valuable content for the viewer and should not be compressed at all. 

With a Weld Camera with High Dynamic Range imaging—such as the Xiris XVC-O —operators can avoid the need to implement any auxiliary aperture to regulate the amount of light striking the camera. This means they only have to set up the camera once and will have to make fewer in-process adjustments than for Weld Cameras without High Dynamic Range imaging.

How It Works

In the XVC-O Weld Camera, a logarithmic function is used to compress the brightest portion of the image while leaving the darkest portion virtually uncompressed, as shown below:

 

No aperture required on XVC-O Weld View Camera

Camera System Output and Weld Arc Light Input 

 

Even though the XVC-O Weld Camera can acquire images at 140+ dB dynamic range by using a special CMOS sensor and electronics, it’s quite a challenge to convert this high range of brightness into a meaningful image on a standard digital monitor, which displays video in 8-bit resolution, or 256 grey levels. To overcome this challenge, the XVC-O uses some additional electronics to obtain the type of logarithmic response curve needed to properly display welding images —suppressing the response in the area of the arc intensity and leaving it as a near-linear response in the darker region of the range, where background detail would normally appear.

The result is an excellent representation of the weld arc and its background on a standard 256-grey-level digital monitor.

Conclusion

High Dynamic Range cameras such as the XVC-O Weld Camera use a logarithmic sensor and processing electronics to achieve a dynamic range that exceeds 140 dB. This ability to see both the super-bright open arc and the dark background frees operators from having to use an auxiliary aperture to control the amount of light hitting the camera, while providing them with better visibility into the weld process than possible with direct monitoring.

Topics: camera selection, weld camera, image processing, High Dynamic Range

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