Vision System Inspections: A Simple Approach to a Successful Project

Important Front End Evaluations

Implementing proper technique and evaluation on the front end of an industrial automation engineering project produces better results and helps you accomplish your goals at completion.

This is especially true in food and beverage manufacturing and the consumer packaged goods industry. To determine what to evaluate at the front end, you need to understand the problem you’re facing in your industrial manufacturing process.  It is critical for this initial step to take place when working with vision system applications and inspections.

Here are some common initial questions and considerations for front-end evaluations;

  • Goals: What are you trying to accomplish? Define clear specific objectives.
  • Proof of Concept Study: Consider an on-site evaluation study with lab testing and reporting.
  • Key Process Owners: Include them in your team during the design phase.
  • Functional Specifications: A good functional specification lays the groundwork for a successful inspection project.
  • Training Requirements: What is needed for your operators and maintenance teams?
  • Inspection Location: Where is the optimal location for your inspection station in your process?

5 Components of a Vision System Application

Vision applications are very diverse with many variables to consider, based on our experience with planning the inspection process in manufacturing.

Here are the five most important components of a vision system application;

  1. What are you trying to INSPECT? Define the inspection criteria.
  2. What is the current ENVIRONMENT or PROCESS?
  3. What LIGHTING technology is available to meet your needs?
  4. What about ORIENTATION of your parts or products?
  5. What vision PRODUCT technology is the right solution for you?

These very basic points are often missed by project teams that don’t perform proper due diligence on the front end, which can lead to poor design and poor results. Working closely with vision application engineers and architects can help you see the overall project from a different vantage point.

Vision Cameras, Inspection Products, and Bar Code Readers

It’s important to understand what vision application products can and can’t do for your manufacturing inspection process. Working closely with OEM’s  (Cognex, Keyence, LMI) and vision application engineers with a proven track record of product knowledge is crucial to understanding the products and their parameters.

Another big challenge in a vision application is performing appropriate testing in the beginning. A modest investment in an on-site proof of concept or evaluation study at the outset can produce significant savings in the project costs by minimizing errors and improving the ability to meet your objectives.

Failure to perform this type of due diligence up front will most likely produce a poorly designed inspection process and unsuccessful project completion.

Proper Data Collection = Effective Tracking and Improved Quality

Understanding your vision product options and the specific data available can improve tracking and quality so you can deliver great products to customers in every shipment. You can also safeguard your quality inspection process by providing customers with crucial data and inspection results in a clear format.

Clearly understanding what a good and bad part or product looks like during inspection can provide important information when evaluating these comparisons. Identifying and documenting good inspection images and bad inspection images can provide insight into what is happening in your process. Consider the following:

  • When a good part or product appears, what went right?
  • When a bad part or product appears, what went wrong?
  • What is the root cause in these situations?

Historical trending of this information can offer valuable insight to your process and more consistent quality product delivery to your customers.

Consider the food and beverage and consumer packaged goods industry for example. Challenges continue to arise with quality labeling and apply applications, printers with clear labels on products and trays, can code visibility, poor images, speed and feed situations, and orientation. All these challenges must be monitored within your process by an effective vision system design.

With the increase in supplier and customer demands for quality inspections of products and proper tracking through effective data collection designs, we anticipate a wider acceptance of this overall project approach within the manufacturing community.

Matrix Technologies is one of the largest independent process design, industrial automation engineering, and manufacturing operations management companies in North America. To learn more about our vision inspection capabilities and application engineering solutions, contact Kevin Overmyer, MBA, Corporate Account Manager, Sales and Marketing Group, (419) 897-7200 x 258.

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