Services for entreprises Promenade de la Rivière St-Charles

Key sectors

Manufacturing industry

Cutting-edge research facilities = ingenious ideas

Industrial Robotics and Vision Centre (CRVI)
Visionary robots

“We add a new level of intelligence to machines to enhance the automation of production facilities,” says François Brillant, Director of Business Development at the Industrial Robotics and Vision Centre (CRVI), based in Lévis, Quebec.

Industrial Robotics and Vision Centre (CRVI)
  • Year founded: 1984
  • Number of employees: 15
  • Number of clients: 50 per year
  • CRVI is a non-profit organization; any profits are reinvested to purchase state-of-the-art equipment
  • The Industrial Robotics Centre (CRI) was renamed the Industrial Robotics and Vision Centre in 2006

“One of our goals is to transfer our knowledge to companies,” says Mr. Brillant. “CRVI is a college technology transfer centre that uses robotics, vision or both to help businesses enhance quality control or to ease labour shortages. Since there is a major shortage of welders in the Quebec City region, CRVI’s experts are working to automate the welding process for various companies. They’re going to be hiring robot operators rather than welders, who are an increasingly scarce resource!”

“Coming to see us is the first thing companies do when incorporating a new technology, a robot or a camera system. They tell us what they need and we help them determine what can be done within their production chain,” says Mr. Brillant. In partnership with the client, CRVI analyzes the company’s assembly line. The centre’s experts then evaluate which robot or camera equipment would best meet the client’s needs based on market availability. If required, CRVI can adapt this equipment to the client’s requirements. “We use simulations to determine whether robot technology is a viable alternative.” The centre then makes recommendations, which the company is then free to implement.

A solid group of robotics and artificial vision engineers and technicians make up CRVI’s technical team. “Our experts understand industry realities and are attuned to the specific needs of small and medium-sized enterprises,” notes Mr. Brillant.

Intelligent vision systems

For quality control purposes, CRVI uses artificial vision by itself or in combination with robots. Vision systems provide continuous and systematic surveillance, unlike the human eye, which is subject to fatigue and perception bias.

CRVI has teamed up with IPL Inc., one of North America’s leading manufacturers of injection and extrusion-moulded plastic products. “When the robot handles a component that emerges from the injection mould, it holds it up to a camera that records images of the component. Digital processing is then used to analyze whether the dimensions and shape of the component meet the company’s quality standards. It’s very accurate,” explains Mr. Brillant. The robot is also programmed to interact with its environment: when it detects that a component is unusable, it discards it.

Cameras are also used in the production process to check unit colour. For example, CRVI has suggested positioning a camera at the exit of the oven in a local cake factory. “The vision system inspects the cakes as they come out of the oven. The colour indicates whether or not they are baked to perfection. The vision system then interacts with the oven and adjusts the conveyor belt speed to ensure the correct cooking time,” says Mr. Brillant.

The sense of touch

But CRVI has more than one tool at its disposal. If the sense of sight is pushed to its limit, the centre’s experts attempt to provide robots with the sense of touch. By incorporating force sensors, they have successfully developed a robot-controlled sanding application.

“The robot picks up the sandpaper and the force sensor measures how much pressure should be applied to perform the task. As the sandpaper wears out, the robot gradually increases the pressure. When the sandpaper is no longer usable, the robot ‘realizes’ that it must pick up a fresh sheet before continuing the job,” says Mr. Brillant. This application is widely used in the furniture industry and in polishing metal products.

Optimizing performance with lean manufacturing

Rounding out its range of services, CRVI offers a comprehensive lean manufacturing program, in association with Lévis-Lauzon Cégep’s continuing education division. This program helps companies identify sources of waste that can be eliminated to optimize operating performance. CRVI regularly suggests that businesses start by adopting and implementing lean manufacturing prior to incorporating new technologies. It’s the best way to optimize overall operations, including the addition of new technologies.

“Our top priority is to maintain our pioneering robotics and vision position by embracing lean manufacturing principles. We know that businesses need solutions that are immediately applicable. They too have clients to keep satisfied and production levels to maintain,” concludes Mr. Brillant.

Lisa-Marie Noël

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