While 3D machine vision has become a reliable source of production enhancements in many industries, uncovering potential applications on the floor may not be obvious at first glance. Personnel may know the issues they face but may have become resigned to living with them – unaware that machine vision can provide a solution. Discovering pain points that 3D vision can solve involves careful observation of the manufacturing process and asking the right questions. Let’s explore some key questions and see how 3D vision technologies were implemented to turn issues into assets.
Do we need to measure and reduce product give-away?
It is common that certain industry regulations require that products are not shipped under advertised volume. Because of these regulations companies such as those in the food and beverage industry regularly over-size package contents to ensure compliance; popularly called product give-away.
A producer of candy bars is giving away product without knowing how much they were giving away. Scanning the product with a 3D vision system allows for real-time feedback with trending, control limits, and the product specifications shown via a running SPC chart.
IAS applied a 3D vision solution to form a data map and allow IAS to precisely measure product volumes in real time to reduce give-away through tracking and feedback. This application was able to save hundreds of thousands of gallons of raw material over the course of a year. In similar high-volume facilities, material corrections as small as .5% can be justified in as little as a month.
Are we relying on manual inspections?
Manual inspection stations are costly, hazardously repetitive for workers, and can either yield errors in inspection or call for inspections that simply cannot be done with the human eye. It is an often-cited statistic that 100% human inspection catches 80% of the errors.
A producer of potato chips relies on human inspectors to spot clumped-together chips that are typically under-cooked and chewy. Very high line speeds result in many defects not being caught. By introducing 3D inspections into the processing line, the clumped chips are blown off and rejected prior to bagging.
Could we have a product recall?
The talk of a recall sends chills down any production manager’s spine. Recalls are extremely costly and can perminently damage relationships with customers.
Mis-seated O-rings at a hydraulic valve manufacturer can seemingly be found by human inspection, but even small inaccuracies in the seating can cause huge problems for the end customer. IAS put in place a 3D solution that can detect minute inaccuracies in o-ring placement.
Implementing a final quality check utilizing machine vision assures that only the products that are exactly to specifications make it out to shipment and bad product is rejected or reworked. This data is can also be tracked to provide important feedback on whether other processes are healthy and functioning properly.
Do we depend on manual sortation?
Manual sorting stations, much like manual inspection, can become bottlenecks in production that are less effective and costly. The cost of a manual sorting station greatly rises if there are any errors in the sort, leading to more issues further down the line.
A company that produces canned baked beans with bacon needs to assure the correct volume of bacon is featured in each can. A robotic arm guided by a 3D vision camera provides the ability to see pieces of bacon on the line, identify their sizes and place the correct small-medium-large combination into each can.
Are we using CMM inspection?
Automotive and machining companies often require CMM inspections on sampled parts. These inspections are time consuming, expensive, and can tie up valuable resources. Furthermore, they are performed off-line to only a limited sample size.
A machining center needs to tie up costly CMM and engineering time in order to perform inspections on every 1000th part. Machining errors and tool wear are found only after many defective parts have gone through production. The implementation of an in-line 3D vision solution enables surface inspection and key feature measurements on each part that coming down the line without any stoppages or reallocation of resources.
Potential 3D vision applications are prevalent across almost every industry and can result in reducing waste, improving quality, and eliminating overhead, leading to easy return on investment justifications.
Although the overall value may be significant, the somewhat hidden nature of a potential implementation means that knowing where to look can be half the battle. Whether you're unsure where to start or are looking to achieve peak performance out of your coming system, the IAS vision team can help you realize the full benefits of 3D vision.