Originally designed for sorting hardwood parquet slabs, the system is also suitable for sorting any type of items in which colour and texture are important. In addition to the colour and texture recognition features, the system includes the capacity to take three-dimensional measurements and to summarize to an optimal grading of the objects. Objects can be graded into a maximum of 6 different classes. The method of classification has proven to outperform manual sorting of hardwood parquet slabs. By using this system, it is now possible to automate the inspection of objects and to thereby drastically reduce production costs and to eliminate the most tedious human tasks. The return of investment for the current application is less than one year.
OPTIMAT is a real-time automated vision system, designed for use in the wood processing industry. The technology comprises black-and-white or colour cameras which are able to detect flaws in the wood such as knots, shakes and pitch-pockets on the visible sides. An image processing system then compares these characteristics with the requirement profile of the different quality classes. This information is used to optimize the cutting sequence of the timber, to ensure maximum quality and minimum waste. Depending on the particular application and the number of surfaces to be inspected, an OPTIMAT system has from one to four modern, digital, black-and-white or colour line-scan cameras. These generate an image of the wood surface as it is passed by on a conveyor belt. Electronic signal processors determine the nature, position, size and shape of timber flaws, and assign the wood to the appropriate sorting class according to a comparison with the specified sorting qualities. From the flaws found in the timber, the optimization software integrated in OPTIMAT is able to compute appropriate cross-cut positions and compile an optimal cutting sequence. This is communicated electronically to the cross-cut saw and executed with millimetre accuracy.