Monday, March 19, 2012

Remembering lessons from math class

It’s hard to believe now, but I was once pretty good at math. My test scores didn’t always show it though, because I would perform the algebra in my head and just write down the answer. Teachers, so Mr. Pearce of 10th Grade Math explained more than once, like to see your workings out.

The same applies to machine vision projects, and especially to lighting. On more than one occasion I’ve been asked to revisit an old project to make some changes. Oftentimes it’s because the product under inspection has changed in some way we didn’t anticipate, or someone has added another quality check. But whatever the reason for going back to an old system, I often find myself wondering why I did it that way.

My project files are seldom any real help. Yes I’ll have quotes for components, product specifications, mechanical drawings and so on, but if I want to know why I used a 9 inch ring light I’m stumped.

There is an answer to this. Now, when I’m performing a lighting feasibility study – what I once heard called “poke and hope” – I write lots of notes and save plenty of images. This way I have a full history of what I tried, how it worked out, and what I did next.

Yes it seems a bit laborious, and it takes some discipline because notes have to written up immediately, but, as I found on a recent system upgrade, I have a complete history of how I arrived at the solution that was implemented.

In short then, I now show my workings out – Mr. Pearce would be proud of me – and as I’ve just found, it saves me time.

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