Industrial

Can autonomous machine vision stave off the recession?

2nd July 2020
Alex Lynn

While the economic implications of COVID-19 threaten to shadow the Great Depression, here Harel Boren, CEO and co-founder of Inspekto, explained why Autonomous Machine Vision (AMV) could be the new New Deal.

Today, we are facing a risk of a major global recession as the result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As manufacturers are planning the resumption of work after the shutdown period, experts predict that a major global recession might be inevitable.

To ward off its negative impact, ‘affordable flexibility’ is key, and manufacturers need the ability to adapt, adjust and modify their production lines, cost effectively, to meet changing needs in a dynamic and competitive environment. Most importantly, plant managers need ready-to-use, out-of-the-box technology that delivers added value right away, and that they can manage on their own without any help from external experts.

For industrial inspection, a key element to deliver high quality products, Autonomous Machine Vision (AMV), a new category in machine vision for visual quality assurance (QA), offers this and much more.

The INSPEKTO S70, the first Autonomous Machine Vision product, is autonomous in every way, releasing plant managers from lengthy and expensive contracts with external third parties, such as systems integrators. It is highly versatile in that it can be used to inspect any product, in any industry, produced with every manufacturing techniques.

The installation is quick, easy and fun. Thanks to Inspekto’s Plug & Inspect® technology, the plant’s own personnel can install an AMV system in just 30 to 45 minutes, with no external intervention. The user simply presents an average of 20 to 30 good samples to the system, which will automatically learn what a gold-standard product should look like.

Much like a human being, the INSPEKTO S70 knows when it has enough information about a part to start inspecting it. After inspection begins, the system will alert the user to every deviation from the defined standards.

In times of financial instability, the first thing plant managers do is keep their budgets under control. The INSPEKTO S70 requires minimal initial investment, because it can be purchased for less than one tenth of the cost of traditional QA solutions. In addition, it can be installed while the production line is running, causing zero downtime.

This out-of-the-box, ready-to-go system comes with everything QA managers need to perform accurate and effective visual QA right away. Also, with the INSPEKTO S70 there’s no need to invest in training. Thanks to its self-adapting and self-learning capabilities, the product operates in complete autonomy, communicating directly with the programmable logic controller (PLC) without any intervention from the plant’s personnel.

If the country hits a phase of economic recession, cutting costs is not enough. Manufacturers should also enhance profitability by reducing scrap and waste, identifying defective items as soon as possible and optimising their production lines so that the same defect doesn’t keep happening.

Because AMV products are cost-effective and extremely quick and easy to set up, plant managers can position a QA station at every junction on the production line, instead of just at the end, realising what Inspekto calls Total QA. This minimises scrap, because resources will not be wasted on items that are destined to be defective from the very beginning.

Over time, Total QA allows manufacturers to see where defects are more likely to occur, so that they intervene in the most appropriate way. In times of financial instability, it is paramount that plant managers identify every opportunity to improve their production processes, working at full potential to outrun the competition. 

AMV allows manufacturers to free personnel from tedious QA procedures, whether these are manual inspection tasks, or the maintenance of complex machine vision solutions.

Manual visual inspection carries an error rate of up to 25 per cent and keeps employees busy on a task that does not add value to the business. Consider this example from the automotive engineering sector. In the UK, the average value added by each employee in this sector is £100,000 a year, so manufacturers lose millions by assigning several shifts of employees to tedious inspection tasks.

By investing in an Autonomous Machine Vision system, manufacturers can move those employees into productive roles that create value for the business. A small investment in an INSPEKTO S70 can therefore save a plant hundreds of thousands per year.

It’s clear that automotive manufacturers in particular, but also industry overall could save millions by reducing the number of detectable faults in their products. The New Deal that AMV provides could certainly be the boost that the economy requires.

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