If You Can Not See It, How Can You Inspect It?
Inspection for quality and accuracy is standard operating procedure for most industries and nearly all of this involves an inspector looking at a product. Obviously, they will do other things like measuring or even testing the product but, throughout this, they must see the product. Even a master brewer inspecting a glass of his beer looks at the contents before he tastes it. So, what’s all this about the latest buzz word phrase concerning a vision inspection system? For sure, it is not about an optometrist inspecting a patient’s vision before prescribing the best corrective spectacles.
So, What Is A Vision Inspection System?
For people involved in inspection, quality control (QC) and quality assurance (QA), a vision inspection system is likely to be one that replaces human eyes with state of the art video cameras. This can be especially useful if the point of inspection is difficult to access (such as the web feed through a printing press).
At first, you may think that having a human watch a screen all day would not be very efficient since the watcher’s concentration is likely to wander if watching the same thing for hours on end. With respect to a vision inspection system your initial thoughts would be quite correct. For the vision inspection system to be functional and efficient, the data from the camera(s) has to be interpreted by computer software. With such a system 100% inspection of every item is possible.
So, Who Could Use It?
Again, anyone outside a particular trade or industry might believe that a mass production system only requires setting up correctly for every subsequent item produced to be identical to the original prototype. However, this may not always be the case. For example, if a process uses a web feed, unseen flaws in the huge roll of feedstock (called a web) will flow through and be turned into product (which might be such as printed packaging or self adhesive bar code labels).
A camera within the web printing press could spot these flaws and the software can either alert the operators or stop the machine depending upon the nature of the flaw. Additionally, any misalignment of the web feed could interfere with the accuracy of the print application – a camera will spot any misalignments as they occur in real time.
Pharmaceutical and the food and beverage industries are some of the biggest users of printed packaging and much of this will be printed on web type materials making these sectors prime candidates for vision inspection systems.