Incorporating machine vision in manufacturing will benefit manufacturers by helping them predict production flaws in manufacturing lines, improving the quality, cutting down unnecessary costs, and achieving high productivity with automation.
Machine vision has gained immense popularity over the last few years, especially in the manufacturing sector. Manufacturing organizations can benefit from the increased flexibility, lower product defects, increased overall production quality enabled by the technology. The history of machine vision systems dates back to the 1960s. Larry Roberts, who is also called as the Father of Computer Vision, published “Machine Perception Of Three-Dimensional Solids,” where he mentioned the possibility of “extracting 3D information about solid objects from 2D photographs of line drawings.” Here’s where it all started. Since then, a lot of research was carried out. Finally in the 1990s, after years of study, refinement, and development, machine vision in manufacturing was seen ushered in a wide array of applications and benefits for the industry as a whole. But what is machine vision all about? To put it simply, machine vision is the ability of a machine to capture images, analyze it, comprehend (the situation), and then respond accordingly. The system comprises of smart cameras and image-processing hardware and software setup.
Let’s check out the use cases of machine vision in manufacturing and also the possible advantages that can be reaped by the sector.
Taking Proactive Measures
As manufacturing companies deal with large-scale production of goods, several large machinery or heavy-duty equipment has to be used. These pieces of equipment have to be monitored regularly to avoid equipment downtime. Manually inspecting each and every machine in a manufacturing plant is not only time-consuming but also cost-prohibitive and error-prone. Hence, manufacturers have traditionally relied solely on reactive maintenance. The concept was to fix the equipment only after it is broken or becomes faulty. However, restoring the equipment using this concept can have negative impacts on workforce productivity, production quality, and also cost. The Wall Street Journal estimates that 50 billion dollars are spent annually for unplanned downtime.
On the other hand, what if manufacturing companies had a chance to anticipate the working status of machinery and proactively take remedial actions to avoid the breakdown that is likely to occur? By incorporating such an incredible method, manufacturers can not only minimize the cases of equipment failure but also optimize their worker productivity and boost cost-savings. Machine vision systems can effectively perform these tasks and ensure minimal downtime.
Robots have been a part of manufacturing companies for a while now. Now imagine powering these robots with AI and machine vision. Such robots can easily capture images of every equipment. The images and some additional information about the equipment will then be sent to the cloud, where the analysis and processing take place. The data, after computation, will help manufacturers to gain meaningful insights on whether that particular equipment is about to fail or not.
For enhanced customer satisfaction levels, manufacturers must provide the highest-quality products to their customers. If not done in the right manner, manufacturers will see their customer base, revenue, and profit margins shrink. Product inspection and quality control are, therefore, crucial manufacturing activities that cannot be ignored. Manually performing these tasks can be boring, time-intensive, and also repetitive. Besides, manufacturers cannot guarantee 100 percent accurate outcomes due to the involvement of humans. Furthermore, sometimes defects are not visible to a human eye. But with machine vision systems, all these issues can be eliminated. Manufacturing companies can optimize and streamline these processes in much lesser time.
With machine vision systems, industrial manufacturers can detect flaws, cracks, or any blemishes in a physical product. Besides, these systems can easily check for accurate and precise measurements of components or parts that are used while the product is being assembled. Machine vision systems will capture images of products or goods. These pictures will then be sent to a computer for processing. Information on any defects or faults will be sent to the concerned employees. This is how manufacturers can implement machine vision systems for automatic product inspection and precise quality control for customer satisfaction.
In manufacturing, the role of barcode scanners is truly valuable. Barcode scanners have replaced the traditional paper-and-pencil method of processing. With barcode scanners coming into play, manufacturers encountered several benefits, ranging from streamlined operations to reduced time and cost to minimized errors to decreased stress levels. However, manually operating barcode scanners was not an easy undertaking. For an accurate outcome, workers had to read, interpret, and process the items (produced in large numbers) that they scan. Here’s where manufacturers can work in harmony with machine vision systems.
By powering machine vision systems with advanced capabilities like Optical Character Recognition (OCR), Optical Barcode Recognition (OBR), and other image processing technologies, manufacturers can use the system to automate the overall scanning process. The images of the text or barcodes on an item will be captured, interpreted, and compared with the information stored in a system. All of these will be carried out without involving humans. So, an automated process of ensuring all components follow the right path along the production line or checking that the right package has arrived can be carried out by machine vision systems.
Improving Worker Safety
Providing improved health to workers and keeping the environment safe is of prime concern for manufacturers. But, it is reported that every 7 seconds, a worker is injured on the job. This indicates that the safety programs and measures that are undertaken today are insufficient. And there is a need for manufacturing companies to strengthen their safety-related programs and provide the best possible service. Machine vision can not only help manufacturing companies to streamline manufacturing activities but also improve worker safety.
Machine vision systems, with real-time image-processing capabilities, can gather pictures of the manufacturing plant. The pictures will also capture workers and their actions. The data is then fed to a computer system where it is analyzed and processed. The result will contain valuable information on whether workers are in a hazardous and life-threatening situation. Machine vision systems will notify the concerned officers about the risky site environment, allowing them to take necessary measures at the right time. Hence, machine vision systems can benefit manufacturing companies by detecting environmental risks or hazards at the right time, evading future mishaps.
The manufacturing industry has always been at the forefront of adopting new-age technologies. By using emerging tech trends in manufacturing, manufacturers are innovating and revolutionizing several operations. Similarly, machine vision systems in manufacturing solve the major challenges that companies face, helping them with benefits like higher yields, greater production quality, and low financial expenses. Tireless and highly productive machine vision system can help manufacturers in producing high-volume of goods as per customer demands without any additional costs. Machine vision is no longer something that is just nice to have -- it’s a necessity for the manufacturing sector.