When one of the largest global suppliers and manufacturers of critical threaded and non-threaded fasteners for the automotive industry identified problems with their machine vision inspection systems, they asked Automation Software & Engineering (AS&E) to assess their situation and develop a better system. Ultimately the solution needed to reduce inspection error and maximize production uptime, efficiency and profitability.
The challenge was to inspect dozens of unique parts on each production line moving at a very rapid pace (up to 450 parts per minute). There were numerous problems with the current inspection systems that revolved around utilizing hardware that was limited in its functionality and incorporating a generic software program that was not written to perform inspections specifically needed for the parts. AS&E selected independent hardware that perfectly matched the inspection requirements and developed customized inspection algorithms and a reporting software package that can be utilized throughout the customer facility.
In order to minimize cost, AS&E recycled as much existing vision system hardware as possible. We did change the cameras and incorporated different lenses for each camera. Each system utilized two (2) monochrome high speed Gig-E cameras and a laser. Defects identified in the solution included:
– Thread presence
– Thread debris
– Part height
– No or bad plating
– Upside down washer assembly
– Over or bad squeeze
– Nylon insert presence
System improvements specifically targeted the following mandates:
• Reduce false rejects (originally as much as 7% -AS&E reduced this number to less than 1%).
• Reduce change-over time. Cameras are fixed and inspections are pre-defined with possible parameter adjustments. This eliminated virtually all variance between operators as they do not need to rebuild the inspection.
• Identify the reason for a reject. Software splits out the actual bad parts from parts which are presented to the vision system poorly (for example, upside down or too close to the previous part).
• Show and check for specific rejects on the boundary checks.
• Show shift summary of rejects.
• Close the loop on a reject with sensor on reject chute
AS&E has developed similar customized inspection and quality control systems for the metals, lighting, food processing, medical, roofing, industrial coatings, and alternative energy industries.