In the precise world of high volume manufacturing (HVM), microns and milliseconds matter when inspecting medical staples, fitness trackers and smartphones to meet either government regulations or consumer standards.
The need for 100% inspection of parts is driving the medical device, automotive and consumer electronics industries to install automated metrology systems on the factory floor. Employing advanced machine vision systems, custom lighting and robotics, high speed metrology systems can be used for inline and nearline manufacturing applications.
In the consumer electronics industry, miniature components in products like smartphones must meet tighter tolerances. On the other hand, government regulation of the medical device and automotive industries makes consumer safety the top priority in part inspection.
Most metrology systems focus on high-resolution measurements in the millimeter to nanometer range, according to AIA, the machine vision trade association. These high resolution systems use a variety of vision methods, from laser line triangulation to interferometry. High accuracy coupled with repeatability of results is vital for metrology systems. Manufacturers can minimize waste by detecting errors early in the process before thousands of parts need to be scrapped.
“Recalls and warranty costs, along with increased production demands, drive the need for automated inspection,” said Bhaskar Ramakrishnan, a technical sales engineer at DWFritz Automation. “With 100% inspection, each individual unit or component is examined to determine specification and quality compliance.”
What Makes a Reliable Metrology System?
When considering an automated metrology system, many manufacturers look for a high throughput, continuous motion inspection system with the following three key benefits:
1. High speed automated inspection system. Designed to withstand shop floor environments, the system can be used for inline and nearline applications. Real-time data provided by the sensor system allows the manufacturer to quickly respond to production issues.
2. Advanced vision and sensors for metrology, plus color, gloss and cosmetic defect inspection. Machine lighting is a critical enabler for micron-level measurements. A configurable vision-based platform can perform multiple micron-level measurements with high repeatability. Precise laser configurations can gather 3D data, stitching together a 3D point cloud of the part for inspection. Multispectral lighting, lasers, cameras, sensors and software algorithms can interpret inspection images to account for different finishes and colors.
3. Flexible physical input and output. Materials handling calls for highly configurable equipment since no two applications are the same. A flexible metrology system offers tray, conveyor, cassette and process module interfaces. Marking, binning and pre- and post-metrology assembly options keep production moving efficiently.
A fast and accurate inspection process reduces not only the scrap rates while improving process efficiency but also increases profitability. High speed metrology platforms fit the bill for many high volume manufacturers.