AI in the manufacturing industry has improved the safety and efficiency of all its operations. One of the popular tools used in manufacturing is Machine Vision. It is used to perform an automated visual inspection on the objects that are manufactured in thousands every day. With the advancements made in Artificial Intelligence, the processes of algorithm development have become superior. Deep learning-based inspection models are often combined with machine vision systems. Such systems are easier to train and implement. Industrial machine vision systems are also more reliable, robust, and stable. They have high mechanical and temperature stability, are of low cost but high accuracy. There are many different applications of Machine Vision in manufacturing. Here are a few of the machine vision applications –
1. Object Detection
It is a machine vision use case where the Machine Vision aided system looks for individual objects rather than the entire image. The goal of this exercise is to identify different objects inside an image so that it can eliminate objects which are not relevant to the inspection and only focus on the relevant objects. A variety of techniques are used to make object detection as efficient as possible. Object detection is used in many points in the manufacturing industry like an assembly line, sorting, quality management, inventory management, etc. For instance, in the gearbox assembly chain, machine vision analyses the image for specific parts and confirms the presence or absence of such parts in that image.
2. Parts Counting
It is a task that is slow and tedious but doesn’t require a lot of intelligence to do. However, manual operators trying to reach their daily goals might make mistakes while counting and that can cause massive delays in assembling parts. Machine vision can use its object identification algorithm to detect the parts and then count them accurately and quickly. For instance, in the manufacturing chain, machine vision can count the piston rings in a stack with great efficiency.
3. Surface Defect Identification
Surface defect identification is another machine vision application that is an essential step in quality control. Manual identification of surface defects is a tedious task and defects can be missed by human operators as they try to match the supply with the demand. Machine vision can provide the accuracy and efficiency of surface inspection in an easy-to-train model. In manufacturing industries, surface defect inspection can detect defects in casting components, bearings, and different metal surfaces. For instance, packaging defect identification can help identify bad packaging which will cause damage during transport.
4. Print Defect Identification
Print defect identification is the process of detecting anomalies in the prints like inconsistencies in color, text, or pattern. Manual inspection by human operators might lead to oversight that will cause deterioration in the quality of the final product. Machine vision can perform print defect identification using AI and deep learning. This takes care of prints, labels, and packaging prints.
5. Print Character Reading
Print character identification is one of the machine vision use cases that is performed using OCR (Optical Character Recognition). Machine vision can help in tracking various objects in the manufacturing supply chain with the help of print character reading. It can verify the name tag and other details of any object and update the status of the object while it goes through various stages of its life cycle. It is useful in logistics as items are at a high risk of being misplaced.
6. Barcode Scanning
Machine vision can be used to read barcodes and data matrix codes. This will help categorize products that the AI identifies thereby error-proofing production and packaging processes. Machine vision barcode scanners are more efficient than the manual categorization process which has the potential to be error-prone. In manufacturing, barcode scanners can separate products based on their attributes or features.
Machine vision can locate an object and state its coordinates or position relative to the operator looking for it. The ability to locate an object at any point in time helps with logistics and supply chain management. In case an item is misplaced, object detection through machine vision can find the location of an object easily and quickly. In manufacturing, locating objects is essential as there’s an inflow and outflow of various parts from one section into another. Machine vision can identify and keep track of all such objects through various means.
Measuring various objects, their surface area, volume, length, and width is necessary to estimate the space they’ll occupy while transporting. Physical inspection can only give an estimate of such a measurement. Using machine vision, the AI can identify the object, and calculate its geometrical dimensions from an image. For instance, the inner diameter of an engine cylinder bore can be measured by an image taken by a 2D or 3D camera using machine vision.
9. Robotic Guidance
This is a machine vision application that involves locating a specific part and ensuring its proper placement and positioning so that no errors or downtime occur in production. Robotic guidance can perform visually assisted robotic operations through a machine controller or robot. The robots can be used to manage repeatable activities with high precision and accuracy, working without a break to ensure maximum efficiency, and can easily be used in environments not safe for manual operators. For instance, automated pick and place will assemble components of any object very quickly.
Thus, machine vision is a tool that can revolutionize the efficiency and accuracy of the manufacturing industry through AI and deep learning algorithms. Coupled with controllers and robots, such models can monitor everything that takes place in the manufacturing supply chain, from assembling to logistics with the least human intervention. It removes the errors that come with manual operations and allows the people involved in such operations to engage in more cognitive tasks. Machine vision uses are vast and varied. Hence, machine vision can change the way a manufacturing company performs its tasks.