Flexible machine vision systems improve manufacturing productivity

In metalworking, tensile tests are conducted to test the ductility of a material, often to determine the most suitable metalworking process. While we have tests in place to assess the flexibility of a material, there is no such test for a machine vision solution. Why? Because they simply aren’t flexible — until now. Here Harel Boren, CEO and co-founder of Inspekto, the founder of Autonomous Machine Vision, explains why flexible visual quality assurance (QA) systems are needed for the industry to progress.

Historically, for a manufacturer to implement a machine vision solution they are tied into an outdated ecosystem. They must arrange for a vision systems integrator to build a custom solution, pay the high associated costs and either pause production or turn to manual QA during the long wait time. At the end of this process, they are lumped with a solution that can operate at only one point on the line, to inspect one product. A solution with no flexibility at all — any minor change to the environment or on the line requires the return of the vision systems integrator to make expensive and time-consuming alterations or, in many cases, declare the original solution obsolete and start again from scratch.

According to Market Insider, “factors that are restraining the growth of the industrial machine vision market include the … lack of flexible machine vision solutions.” But the success of the manufacturing industry is hinged on product quality, making visual QA essential. The flexibility conundrum is holding back the industry from realising its potential.

Introducing a flexible option

For visual QA to be flexible, it must be easy-to-use by non-machine vision experts who must be able to independently and quickly alter the function of their system.Autonomous Machine Vision products do just that. The INSPEKTO S70, for example, can be set up in 30 to 45 minutes by the plant’s own personnel. During set up, employees only have to show the system 20 to 30 good samples — no defective samples are even necessary — and the system will learn the surface variations of a gold standard product. The operator uses just a mouse to define a polygon around their object of interest and they are ready to go.

Autonomous Machine Vision systems can be applied to any product, made from any material, using any handling method. Unlike a traditional solution which requires a vision integrator to manually make any changes, using its artificial intelligence engines (AI) it can self-adapt and self-adjust to any environmental changes, such as new lighting conditions. This flexibility extends so far that a system could be moved from one point on the line to another and set up again in minutes by any member of staff.

Applications provide customisation

Manufacturers can add significant layers of value to an Autonomous Machine Vision system, due to the flexibility and customisation options available. For example, Inspekto has launched a suite of applications for the INSPEKTO S70, which means that on top of its standard visual QA capabilities, sit a myriad of capabilities that manufacturers can choose to make use of. For example, Inspekto TRACKSTM, for archiving and traceability as the product travels down a production line. This app means that manufacturers can null a void claim about product quality and can also perform root-cause analysis to identify the source of an issue should something go wrong.

Autonomous Machine Vision systems can even inspect product as part of a multi-product range from one single location, unlike traditional solutions that can inspect just one. Inspekto TYPESTM for example, is a powerful application that means any number of models can be inspected at one point. Manufacturers using plastic injection moulding machines will be relieved to hear there is now one system able to inspect every product manufactured by the moulding heads of their machines.

Flexibility has held the market back for too long. We are now at the beginning of an Autonomous Machine Vision revolution, which means that, finally, manufacturers can opt for a flexible system that meets more than just their QA needs.