Vision: top 3 tips for successful implementation
Automation is the key to reducing cost in manufacturing, while accuracy, precision and process control are critical.
However, even fully automated production lines are not always perfect. Vision inspection technologies are one way to ensure any problems are quickly detected, identified and corrected before goods leave your plant.
- What to you want to achieve?
Vision-inspection solutions vary from very basic systems, which are economical and will check for
code presence, right through to high-end solutions that can be programmed and configured to inspect a wide variety of quality measures, such as:
- Code validation: This is a complete in-line solution that verifies code presence, position and formation. It automatically identifies and rejects packages with missing, incorrect or unreadable codes, ensuring only properly coded packages reach customers. It’s ideal for: food, beverage, personal care, packaging or pharmaceutical applications.
- Label inspection: Labels can be inspected for label presence, wrinkles, tears and skewed labels, double labels, flagged or missing labels, and an incorrect label pair on packaging. Such problems can occur in high-speed labelling.
- Closure and seal validation: Vision closure-inspection systems ensure the integrity of a closure before it is placed on a bottle, tub, or pack. Closure dimensions, liner integrity and decoration quality are inspected at speeds up to 2500 parts per minute.
- Packaging and filling QA: Vision-inspection solutions can automatically inspect filled bottles, trays, pouches, cases, cartons, kits and other packages to verify that the packaging process was completed to the exacting standards and specifications that you, as the manufacturer, set.
- Empty container inspection: Vision systems can inspect empty bottles, cans, tubes, boxes, tubs and other rigid containers to ensure they meet the dimensional and cosmetic requirements that customers and regulators demand. Containers not meeting these standards are automatically rejected to ensure perfect product presentation every time.
- The right system and criteria
Now you know what you want to achieve, it’s important to choose the right solution. Here are some simple steps:
- What quality criteria do you want to apply? Now think about which of these can be automated using vision systems.
- Look at your product range — what are the natural variations in dimensions?
- Be specific in what you want to check. It’s no good getting cross at the camera for missing something you didn’t actually specify!
- Now determine the type of hardware systems you need to meet your application. At this point it’s valuable to determine what the system can — and can’t — do.
- Trial your solution properly. That is, not in a test environment, but on your own production floor, to ensure it will consistently deliver in the real conditions in your facility — under the lighting, line speeds, and so on.
Here’s a bonus benefit of vision systems: you can use the data from it to improve your upstream processes so that your reject quantities are low.
- Choose the right partner
You probably had more questions or shoulder shrugs going through tip two on choosing the right system. That’s to be expected! Talk to an experienced systems integrator or vision solutions provider to help with this process — they’ll add value to the discussion.
So how do you choose the right one?
- Firstly, assess their capability, past experience and range of implementations. Also check if they have the ability to service and provide space parts if necessary.
- Work with them to determine what is possible, what is not possible, what is best practice, what is suitable for your production line and your processes (part presentation, control and feedback) and what are the constraints.
- Make sure that the process established is reliable and repeatable to deliver objective QA.
- Ask the partner to document the deliverable system and design, seek factory acceptance and site acceptance, so your team has a full understanding of how the system will benefit the business. Make sure they have a commissioning and integration plan to deliver the solution.
- Finally, work with the partner to train your staff, and have a plan to manage and modify the solution if needed.
The right solutions partner will ensure you have the best, most cost-effective solution to meet your current needs, which can grow with you as your business needs change.
Matthews has decades of experience in vision systems, and can help tailor the right one for you. Contact us today.
* Mark Dingley is General Manager of Matthews Australasia. With 20+ years of experience in the product identification industry and the wealth of knowledge gained from working closely with manufacturers and industry associations, Mark actively contributes to industry forums, magazines and the Matthews blog. An avid soccer fan, he also gets out on the field every Saturday, in between the “sports taxi run” for his family.
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