Vision systems are an amazing technology. Through their use, businesses thrive with the ability to control production and respond quickly to irregularities. Whether you are considering implementing vision inspection in your business or looking to upgrade your current setup, expand your knowledge by gettingthe answers to the 5 most frequently asked questions about vision systems.
Both man and machine vision have their advantages and disadvantages. A human is able to adjust to irregularities, whereas a machine is able to work continuously, finding errors unnoticeable to the human eye. The choice of the method of quality control is largely dependent on the industry, and therefore, it cannot be unanimously determined that machines are better than humans. They have a different, broader and in many aspects comprehensive spectrum of activities.
The key advantage of vision systems is that they can inspect almost every feature of a product that a human can evaluate while being much faster and more reliable. A properly designed machine vision system can work in any industry. The possibilities of machine vision are endless, and a well-thought-out vision system is beneficial for the company in many fields. In order to determine what a vision system could investigate in your business, it is important to look at its capabilities.
We know from experience what are the benefits for our customers and how their businesses changed. At Scanway Industry we work to maximise business gratification based on a tailored service, but there are many "textbook" benefits of vision systems. These include safety and accuracy, hygiene, efficiency, and speed and repeatability.
The basic component of any vision system is the vision sensor that retrieves information about the object. Depending on the technology, sensors examine different properties in their own characteristic way. Color sensors analyze the parameters of the beam reflected from the object, contrast sensors analyze the level of brightness/greyness, while specialized cameras evaluate if the image corresponds to the correct pattern - in effect, the object is analyzed for defects. Laser sensors measure the distance, analyze the shape of the object and its geometry. There are also photoelectric sensors that react to a change of light intensity when an object is between the transmitter and the receiver. When such a situation occurs, the electrical parameters change. Other elements of a vision system are illuminators with spot or diffuse lighting, lenses chosen according to parameters such as field of view, depth of field, and resolution, as well as data acquisition devices and software for data processing.
The most important aspect of vision inspection is to focus on the characteristics of the inspected object. Various details of an object can be examined by different types of sensors, and the effects of an inspection can depend on the physical limitations of the sensor. At Scanway we believe that working according to the needs of the enterprise and creating tailor-made systems gives the best results and can significantly support production and quality control. The best results of implementing a vision system are obtained when we put ourselves in the hands of a professional from the beginning. A good solution is to commission an analysis of the company in terms of needs and expectations for vision systems. Experts will then prepare a plan, valuation, and guide you through the implementation process. Starting cooperation with experts early guarantees a smooth implementation process and faster return on investment. Keep in mind that implementing a vision system improperly from the beginning leads to errors, unnecessary costs, and failures, for example, due to inadequate selection of lenses or development of a plan without taking into account external parameters - such as natural light coming through the windows in the plant.
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The dynamic development of industry forces companies to look for solutions to achieve better production and sales results. It involves, among others, improving production efficiency, increasing product quality, optimal allocation of resources, and eliminating unnecessary costs. These goals can be easily accomplished by innovative implementations, so it is worth knowing how to proficiently start this process.
It is a good idea to start introducing novelties by identifying problematic areas. The easiest way to do this is to organise a meeting to review implemented projects and discuss the challenges and problems that the company might face in the coming months. It may also be helpful to observe dominating trends in the industry and thoroughly analyze the company's environment and the situation in its target markets. Such activities can be carried out internally, but also by external entities specialized in this field. Regardless of who will prepare the analysis, it is worth remembering to include in it the technological issues that allow obtaining competitive advantages.
Industry 4.0 is associated with e.g. automation of production lines, use of data analysis in production processes, or implementation of software supporting optimization. Smart Factory, on the other hand, means creating "intelligent factories", i.e. production plants based on systems combining physical and cyber aspects, with simultaneous integration with IoT, i.e. the Internet of Things in its industrial version. When starting to innovate, it is worth considering implementations related to these trends. To get a full picture of the potential benefits, it is worth making use of, for example, expert consultations - indicating which areas of the company can be developed or automated. A meeting with automation or quality control experts can visualize the scale of profits that can be obtained thanks to implementing innovations in the company. Of course, such a process requires investing time and financial resources. However, it should be emphasized that the benefits from it definitely exceed the initial costs related to it. Additionally, the process of modernizing a production line and introducing innovations can be facilitated by customized solutions - adjusted by a contractor to the specificity of a particular plant.
When looking for ways to optimize through innovation, it's worth looking at good examples coming from industry giants. At the end of 2019, PGE Energia Odnawialna announced that it will introduce new projects to optimize wind energy production. Among them, there is a solution to supervise wind turbines, which will allow early detection of malfunctions and significantly reduce repair costs. Laser technology will be used for this task, allowing for remote and precise assessment of the technical condition of wind turbine blades. Such actions are a great example of effective innovation in the industry. Such automation of quality control, e.g. using vision systems, is available not only to large corporations but also to SME companies from various industry sectors. Observation, analysis, and control using the right tools can be the key to a company's success. When planning for innovation, take the time to find areas of production that can be optimized. Productivity chart analysis can certainly help. If the company's procedures have not included their creation yet, you need to prioritize their introduction. Helpful optimization tools can be found on the Internet or from experts specializing in production process management.
Appropriate development of production processes and their constant optimization allow eliminating various inefficiencies, e.g. wastage of raw materials or non-optimal use of working hours. Innovations are necessary to change that. Their implementation, however, should not start with questions such as "do we choose renovation or modernization?" or "what is our budget?". For a good start, attention should be directed at what the company really needs. With such knowledge, you can quickly identify which innovations will be an answer to your needs. Many companies, including ours, offer consulting, cost-effective test deployments and demonstrations or free pilot studies to verify the effects of technology. This allows the industrial company to make sure that the technology fulfills its needs. A company that wants to bet on innovations should therefore familiarize itself with the offer of companies specializing in creating new technologies for industry and take advantage of free consultations or pilot projects offered by them. This will allow creating a list of investments for potential implementation in the company. Knowledge of the balance sheet that they will generate will allow you to make the optimal decisions for your business.
"The power of people" is not only a well-known cliché but also a truth confirmed by entrepreneurs from all over the world. Start implementing innovations by asking your employees about the areas in which they want to develop. Juxtaposing their answers with the plans of the entire company will allow you to create a map of the team's competence development for the following months. Projects related to educating employees are very important due to the dynamic specialization of the entire market. The better educated they are, the better prepared they are for e.g. using data collected by companies or implementing new models of managing innovative production. There are many workshops and courses available on the market. One of the priorities when it comes to investing in competencies is to analyze the market, gather offers, and construct a plan for further training of the team.
Innovation requires openness to new collaborations. Solutions that allow breakthroughs in a company's development may come from other industries, created by research centers or startups. It is worth remembering that innovations go hand in hand with partners in business. It is important to choose entities that share the same approach. Consistent implementation of new solutions is usually the first step to introducing key modernizations in an industrial enterprise.
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Light can be used in industry as a tool to control the quality of production, and thus to optimize it. Its precise use is possible thanks to hyperspectral technologies, allowing for the registration of so-called spectral signatures, connected with substances and chemical compounds present on the surface of various products. Thanks to that we can perceive their features, which cannot be seen with a naked eye or a regular camera.
The global market associated with the development of innovations based on spectral vision has a multi-billion dollar potential and is growing rapidly. The range of areas adopting related technologies for their needs is constantly growing. Among those areas, one can certainly mention the production of food and other FMCG products (fast-moving consumer goods - e.g. groceries, detergents), chemical, fuel, metallurgical or energy industries, but also agriculture and industry related to the extraction of natural resources. In Poland, along with the increase in consumers' expectations and the level of competitiveness on the market, we observe a constant growth of interest of production companies in solutions allowing for optimization of the production process, including quality control, which is of key importance to its effectiveness. Hyperspectral technologies have great potential in this area.
Hyperspectral imaging can be used as, for example, a method of early detection of mold on products such as fruits or vegetables. A great example of an area where hyperspectral quality control technologies are recommended is the tomato production market. The problem of mold detection in its early stage makes it difficult to separate "healthy" products and as a result, the scope of damage and losses is widening - hyperspectral technology would have successfully solved this problem.
In the Scanway Industry laboratory, we conducted tests to verify the effectiveness of mold detection using spectral techniques. Two groups of the same products, a healthy and a moldy, spoilt version, were tested. The collected data, after appropriate processing, showed significant differences in selected spectral windows, which in practice means that thanks to the technology used in the HyperEye product, mold can be detected before the human eye sees it. This is an important conclusion for companies from the food industry because such detection of food defects will allow for the reduction of losses and responsible production.
A good solution developed by us is a vision quality control system based on smart hyperspectral cameras with a quality control system in one housing - the HyperEye. Its ability to see in a wide spectrum (from 600 to 975 nm) allows it to notice defects and imperfections which cannot be seen with a human eye. Such a system of smart cameras can be integrated with the quality control system that already exists on the production line. It is not common on a large scale in Polish manufacturing plants yet. Perhaps this is due to, for example, unawareness of the benefits given by this type of automation or a wrong belief that the implementation of hyperspectral cameras requires costly implementation - adjustment of the production line or implementation of a separate system for data collection and processing. However, we are working on making as many production entities as possible aware of the advantages of hyperspectral quality control systems.
Thanks to hyperspectral cameras the composition of any object can be examined, not only FMCG products. They will prove useful e.g. in the detection of micro-damage of mechanical elements such as turbines, engines, or elements made of plastics, but also on a larger scale to check whether crops in the fields show symptoms of the disease. A hyperspectral solution such as the HyperEye can be adapted to the needs of entrepreneurs from various industries.
Automatic collection of accurate data about products "coming off the line" allows to accelerate production and improve the efficiency of individual processes in the sales chain - from a selection of raw material, as a hyperspectral camera can verify any changes in its parameters, through the elimination of human errors during quality control, to complaint management. The popularisation of its implementation will certainly influence the increase of innovativeness of the Polish industry.
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Working in a print house is dynamic, with strict standards, tight deadlines, and multi-step processes. Damaged paper, creases on printouts, or paper tears causing downtime are problems, which the printing team faces every day. Leaflets and drug packaging, advertisements, newspapers, notebooks, textbooks, and hundreds of other orders are being made hundreds of prin houses in Poland every day - this is important and necessary work that vision systems can successfully support.
A mistake in printing with consequences - in such a responsible process it is worth finding allies. What kind of allies? For example, a set of very precise cameras synchronized with the line, which observes the whole production process and controls the quality of each printed sheet. It is a system of vision quality control.
The vision system first carefully inspects every inch of the paper roll and evaluates its quality - looking for defects, cracks, holes, and wrinkles. Then it will control the process of unrolling the sheet, and in case of a paper tear, it will take a series of photos, which will give information on whether the cause of the tear was a defect in the paper or a production error. Additionally, the system will check whether the color and size of the sheets are identical to the pattern, it will observe it and in a split second, it will provide information on whether everything is correct. In postpress the vision system, depending on the order, will check several things. The watchful eye of the camera will assess the correctness of folding, creasing, foiling, die-cutting, and laminating. It will check whether everything is correctly glued, joined, or stitched, whether the bleed has been cut correctly and whether there is a legible barcode on every product. You will be informed about the progress and results of each inspection in the form of a report.
Free plant resources can be reallocated to other tasks such as verifying the progress of an order, reporting possible paper complaints to the supplier, and other activities that complement the production process. The vision system will take care of quality and the plant will gain time, money, and production. This will allow you to focus on producing more efficiently.
New technology is a chance to solve the problems of print houses. The human eye is not able to work effectively at the speed of industrial printing. A vision system that ensures that the indicated quality standards are met for every product will definitely do a better job. The time and availability of the plant employees can be utilized more effectively. The plant can earn more, and the team can focus on growing the business without worrying about the quality of the orders produced.
The easiest way to start is to contact the experts. After talking and presenting the characteristics of the plant, the specialists will identify the areas and processes where a vision system is recommended. The next step is testing, pricing, and prototyping to ensure that the solution will work efficiently and effectively for your plant. Feel free to contact the Scanway Industry team for a free consultation to discuss your company's challenges and identify areas where a vision system could support your print production.
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