Process Control in the Modern Factory
Automation and metrology are increasingly becoming vital aspects of the manufacturing process. In today’s automated metrology, there are three basic types of inspection one can use: offline, in-process, and in-line.
Offline metrology involves removing a piece fully from the line and checking the parameters in a separate workstation. This can be cost-effective, but is slower, can not be used directly for process control, and requires far more human input.
In-process metrology uses sensors within the manufacturing process, with many current systems integrating sensors into the manufacturing machines themselves. This is especially useful for tool compensation and predictive maintenance, vastly reducing downtime.
In-line measurement is a form of automated defect inspection within the manufacturing line. These offer a wide range of efficient, comprehensive metrology, with the added benefit of contactless solutions. Today, non-contact, in-line systems make up a huge portion of inspection handling processes. The rising tide of automation technology has made 3D vision systems an affordable, versatile, and necessary addition to the toolbox of any manufacturer.
Why Implementing Non-Contact Inspection Is the Best Move for Manufacturers
Seamless, Adaptable Integration
In-line metrology offers a number of powerful benefits for manufacturers. Right off the bat, its capacity for non-contact vision inspection on parts makes implementation far easier. While demanding greater computing and data-handling capacities, these systems are far more flexible from a practical standpoint than their physical counterparts. They can be either robot-carried or pedestal-mounted, accommodating any process. This is important for large, complex operations, or for variable applications that may require quick line changeovers. Their capacity for 3D inspection also means they do not have to be error-proofed, further lowering the cost of ownership.
Rugged, Resilient Operation
Zero-contact operation avoids some of the potential pitfalls of other measurement methods.These systems have no moving parts, relying primarily on dimensional inspection software to execute the heavy lifting of the inspection process. On top of that, vision systems can be securely encased to protect them from harsh factory environments and the typical spills and contamination that entails. Finally, 3D systems are impervious to changes in part color or ambient lighting conditions.
Advantages on the Small Scale…
Vision-based systems have a significant advantage with small, high-volume pieces. Unlike probe sensors, which can bend, scratch, or contaminate delicate parts, optical systems allow every single piece that passes through the sensor to be flawlessly checked for conformity. The constant stream of data from automated in-line inspection also opens new doors for detailed process control and up-to-the-second performance analysis.
…And the Large Scale
Non-contact dimensional inspection isn’t just limited to 2D systems either. 3D dimensional inspection systems provide detailed process data even for intricate parts, delivering low-maintenance, and 100% reliable process control. For larger parts that would take significant time to measure offline, this is a game-changer. The same is true for surface inspection. Automating high-resolution profilometry allows for quality defect inspection while maintaining efficiency.
You don’t just have to imagine the possibilities either. See how +Vantage is using visual inspection systems in real factory settings right now.
In-line Visual Systems Meet +Vantage Engineering
RTV Inspection for Sealant Applications
Ensuring the integrity of structural adhesives and sealants is a vital part of the vehicle manufacturing process. As a heavily automated industry, both the application and inspection of the adhesive bead naturally become automated processes. However, while errors in the bead can be obvious to the human eye, dimensional quality inspection requires highly advanced systems to work effectively. One example, to demonstrate this, occurred when a faulty delivery mechanism led to the head plowing through the bead as it was dispensed. This resulted in insufficient wet-out, leading to serious safety concerns.
Luckily, +Vantage’s powerful inspection system was able to perform a complete non-contact dimensional inspection, providing detailed, unobtrusive data on the delicate process. Where traditional tolerancing parameters—even though using bead height as well as bead width— would’ve passed the parts, our system was able to save customers potentially tens of millions of dollars on leak damage.
Automate with Us!
Want to learn more about in-line visual inspection automation? Download our brochures! To discover the detailed +Vantage integration process and the vast array of automation services we offer visit our website. To discuss how our systems can benefit your custom process, contact us to speak with an engineering design consultant today!