SEESAW: Machine vision technology for industry

SEESAW is a system for monitoring and optimising the use of saw machines and saw-blades in sawmills.

SEESAW enables sawmills to get better information on the sawing process and consequently to manage their production process, saw machines and saw blades better. This results in significant gains in the quality and volume of timber sawn, together with a reduction in costs.

The core process in sawmilling is the cutting of logs to sawn timber. Each log undergoes a unique cutting process and control of the saw-blade determines quality, yield and profitability. However, most European sawmills have no real-time means of receiving information about the cutting process. Only infrequent control measurements are taken manually.

The project integrated a real-time data gathering and reporting system into an automatic vision-based control system called Machine Vision.  Machine vision involves the extraction of information from digital images, which can be used for automatic inspection and quality control. The principal objectives were:

  • improved sawn timber size control
  • integration of automatic saw-blade measurement
  • integration of sawn timber length measurements
  • integration of a visual reporting system

The project consisted of 23 trials of machine vision technology across a wide range of industries, from timber and papermaking through to precision engineering and textiles. The project successfully demonstrated that machine vision is ready to be taken up by industry as a technology, which can have a major economic impact. One of the contributing factors in this is the ever-decreasing cost of computer processing power.