Why reliable, cost-effective ID and inspection solutions will reduce your costs

Matthews Australasia Pty Ltd
By Mark Dingley*
Thursday, 29 January, 2015

Inspection is key to improving your business’s production methods, reducing waste and increasing efficiency. Taking that one step further, reliable inspection is a must for any business that is serious about making the most of its resources and being competitive.

So what is it?

  1. It’s consistent - it checks every product.
  2. It takes action - if the product is not within tolerance, it either automatically stops the line or rejects the product.
  3. It’s all about capturing quality data; for instance, it will show an analysis of rejected products, such as “40% were due to the front label not being placed straight”, which is information a business can then use immediately to fix the problem.

Inspection technologies include vision inspection, metal detection, X-ray and checkweighing. This article focuses on vision.

What are the benefits?

Vision technology has many benefits over the human eye. As capable and flexible as it is, the eye just can’t make fast, precise and repetitive measurements. But a vision inspection system can.

It gives manufacturers these key benefits:

  • Automated quality control by establishing a reliable system that delivers over and over, and the ability to ensure quality based on specific parameters.
  • Quality data is collected every time a product passes through for inspection; every product is monitored and the information sent into production-management systems for process control.
  • Throughput is improved and optimised, by providing data that allows managers to react to upstream issues faster; the solution can also empower operators to fix issues to improve overall quality.
  • It results in cost savings by reducing waste and manual efforts.

These systems also make it possible to demonstrate that reliable quality assurance processes are in place to reassure customers.

Vision systems make sure products are labelled and filled correctly, are compliant, in-spec and shelf-ready straight off the production line. These improvements in turn improve return on investment (ROI), as well as provide data for continuous improvement and enable lean manufacturing.

Some people can be overwhelmed by automated inspection processes, but our [Matthews Australasia’s] approach simplifies the process.

Firstly, what is the business’s biggest quality issue? Then, which issues can automated inspection solve? After that, we look at what the critical issue is that the business has to have resolved, and what would be nice to resolve? From drilling down like that, we get the base solution that particular business needs.

Types of vision inspection technology

Three are three types of vision technology:

  1. Vision systems: this is the basic solution, giving a pass or fail. They have few tools and cover simple applications.
  2. Smart cameras: these have faster cameras, offer more flexibility and can carry out more complex inspections.
  3. Vision systems (also called machine vision systems): these PLC-based systems are fully customised and system dependent.

What type of ‘quality’ do you want?

There are two types of quality checks: control and assurance.

Of course, it’s completely up to each business which they use, but here is our view, from what we’ve seen in nearly 40 years of helping businesses improve their processes:

  • Quality control (QC) is the traditional approach; it detects defective output.
  • Quality assurance (QA) is the proactive ‘lean’ approach; it minimises the chance a business’s output will be substandard and is all about process design.

In our view, the scale tips in favour of using QA as a guide to reducing waste, increasing efficiency and improving production methods overall. This is why reliable, cost-effective inspection solutions reduce a business’s costs and improve competitiveness.

Mark Dingley.

*Mark Dingley is General Manager of Operations for Matthews Australasia. He presented this paper at the AIP National Conference.

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