Vision drives quality
Vision can benefit the entire automotive supply chain from parts
and components, including major subsystems, to automotive
manufacture itself. This sector is one of the most demanding in
terms of product quality and aversion to component failures. The
ability of vision to both measure and classify helps the modern
quality inspection approach of differentiating between critical and
non-critical defects – those that affect the functionality of the object
and those that do not. Although the integration of vision technology
into complex 24/7 manufacturing processes can pose many practical
challenges, the return on investment timescales for industrial vision
systems are very short, especially when the costs associated with
product recalls is taken into consideration.
Components and assemblies
Inspection continues to be one of the most importance uses of vision
in this industry, ensuring the quality of components ranging from
engines, drives, and chassis components to safety-relevant parts such
as brakes, steering, airbags and seat belts. 3D imaging has many
applications such as measuring flush and gap alignment when vehicle
doors are fitted. A multitude of electronic components including cable
tracks, switches and displays can be inspected with machine vision
during production. Elsewhere in the assembly process, machine vision
can be used for robot guidance to position and bond windscreens or
other guidance tasks such as fitting of doors.
Vision is also used in the inspection, classification and selection of
raw materials. Specific lighting techniques or structured lighting
can be used to help expose any typical defects to ensure that defectfree
raw metal sheets are used for visible parts of the bodywork.
Metal that has been classified as structurally sound but contains
blemishes, can be used on non-visible parts of the vehicle.
Beyond the manufacturing phase, code readers can track vehicle
shipments and optical character recognition systems can read the
VIN (vehicle identification numbers) and number plates. High-speed
vision systems enable accurate analysis of vehicle behaviour in crash
tests to help reduce the impact on passengers in accidents. In car use
of vision technology can include parking aids and collision
avoidance systems. Perhaps one of the most interesting new
applications of vision is its use in autonomous vehicles. And finally,
when vehicles reach their end of life and need to be recycled, vision
technology is responsible for reliably identifying and separating
materials and routing them to the appropriate recycling stations.