Welcome back to our 2nd installment in our computer vision series. In this presentation we are going to cover the why of computer vision, what benefits it can bring to the factory floor, and the key parts of a vision system. I am going to talk about four ways that computer vision can help manufacturers save money and why this automated process is better than human inspectors when it comes to repetitive inspection tasks.

In our previous presentation (click here), we talked about what computer vision is and its foremost common applications: measurements, counting, location, and decoding.

You might use these tools to achieve a number of different ends but the motivation for doing so is generally to (1) save money and (2) increase profitability. Right?

With that’s let’s begin with the question for the decade.

How Can We Save Money with Computer Vision?

Let’s start with a savings and how computer vision, as a tool, can help save business owners money.

Quality Control

One of the great things about computer vision is to have a ability to make inspection faster, easier and more accurate. Hence, if used for quality control, the inspection would naturally help reduce defects or cause what we will call “fewer catastrophes”. That means, it can help reduce fewer bad parts getting out into the world and into customers hands. As you can imagine, this could damage a company’s reputation, in which could lead to costly product recalls.

Examples including car manufacturing parts like air bags or fire prevention mechanism like fire sprinkle etc.

Along those lines is preventing mislabeled products parts where the label doesn’t match the content. While this may sound like a simple case, the mislabeled products can cause massive impact on a company’s brand; they may even pose a safety risk. Consider the consequences of improperly labeled pharmaceutical products or mislabeled food items for customers with allergies. Unfortunately, this is a very common reason for product recalls.

Computer vision can verify contents and ensure that products are labeled properly.

Increase Yield

Another incentive for computer vision is better yield.

Simply the ability to turn more of the input material into a saleable end product. If defects are noticed earlier in the production process, wastage will be reduced. And that’s because bad parts can be identified and eliminated before they are built into larger assemblies.

Computer vision helps to reduce downtime, which is another benefit that falls under this category. For example, a packaging line may use a vision system to detect product misfits that could cause the machine to jam and result in downtime and loss of product. Items that are out of tolerance will be expelled from the line before they can cause a system jam.

Track and Trace

I am sure you are aware of the usefulness of tracking work-in-process. Right?

Uniquely identifying products so that they can be tracked and traced throughout the manufacturing and stocking process is a critical process in the supply chain sector. Computer vision can be very helpful here typically if you can identify all of the pieces in a process you will require less stock. More importantly, product becomes available more readily for just-in-time processes.

Computer vision uses decode tools to read 1d and 2d symbologies as well as OCR to track parts and products. This helps manufacturers to shorten delivery time and avoid component shortages. This is also where the auto ID plus aspect of computer vision can be beneficial.

Of course, track and trace applications such as this are commonly accomplished with dedicated barcode readers or imagers. Computer vision provides the added benefit of being able to perform other tasks such as alignments or measurement in addition to reading barcodes and OCR. As an example, you may want to read a data matrix code on a PCB and also verify its location on the board.

Comply With Regulations

With all the benefits from computer visions, regulatory compliance is one of the few with significant impact. Because, complying with industry regulations is often an unavoidable cost, if you don’t comply with the regulations relating to a particular product you out of that market.

Being able to do so efficiently and at low cost is clearly beneficial. The pharmaceutical industry was an early adopter of computer vision. It is of course driven by the fact that it is a highly regulated industry and they require strict adherence to government regulations. Thus, making sure that they meet the requirement of product integrity and safety.

A common application here is the verification of lot, date, data matrix, and other code formats. This a requirement for compliance with standards such as 21 CFR part 11 and GS1 data standards. Unlike a dedicated barcode reader, a vision system has the capability to verify that the labels are accurate and legible. Thus, ensuring that they are readable later in the supply chain.

Conclusion

Computer vision technology can create an impact on your cost savings strategy. Of course, this is only applicable in specific industries.

Is your business in one of them?