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Advanced Imaging Magazine

Updated: July 8th, 2008 05:26 PM CDT

Industrial Vision Takes the Wheel

The automotive market is seen as the next killer app.
KMV innerVision's X-Ray system
Photo: Industrial Control
KMV innerVision's X-Ray system can be used with a line scanner camera from DVT in automotive applications to inspect electronics inside a molded part.
Mark Ermatinger
Mark Ermatinger
Cognex In-Sight 1000
The Cognex In-Sight 1000 image processing systems ensure product quality. Individual results from the camera can be displayed on the monitor.
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By Barry Mazor

It is interesting to consider what the term "quality control in the automotive industry" suggests to vision and imaging pros automatically. The sorts of apps brought to mind in 2005 are not necessarily the ones that would have been thought of when "robot vision for automobile manufacture" was thought in some quarters to be the central market target for all of vision. The quality control notion today is as likely to do with maintaining the quality function of subsystems for vehicles -- or, yes, the quality manufacture of them.

WHAT'S DRIVING AUTO QUALITY CONTROL?
Advanced Imaging: The focus in quality control vision apps in the automotive sector inevitably shifts over time. For instance, there have been times when speeding production towards just-in-time ideals while maintaining quality was the key sector demand; getting some specific aspect of auto production such as, say, airbag device production and function, at another. What quality control issue or goals drives vision demand in 2005?

Mark Ermatinger, Industrial Control: When the economy was slow in 2003-2004, the automotive companies were not pushing the quality issue as much because many suppliers were strapped financially. Now that the economy is beginning to grow, suppliers are scrambling to improve their quality because of the pressure from the top. The inspection applications are also changing from air bag and other critical systems to general parts such as exhaust covers and interior color changes. At the same time, inspection systems are getting more advanced with the use of X-ray systems because the cost has dipped under $100,000 using X-ray with traditional smart cameras from DVT (Duluth, GA).

Nick Fox, 3DX-RAY: We are seeing different sorts of two market drivers coming to the fore in both the automotive and general manufacturing sectors -- fear of litigation resulting from premature failure of safety critical components and internal pressures to reduce the costs of after sales costs support resulting from latent faults that could have been detected and eliminated during the manufacturing process.

HITS AND CHALLENGES
Advanced Imaging: Automation in the automotive sector is a key market focus for vision and image analysis suppliers. By this point, in what sort of apps and situations do you see the most success in applying vision -- and in which potential areas is further development still demand?

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