Automated = 6-axis articulated arm to perform a manual task automatically.
Visual Inspection = the inspection of an object's surface to detect random surface defects such as dents, nicks, pits, scratches, tooling marks, etc.
AV&R Vision & Robotics' team started acquiring knowledge in Visual Inspection more than 15 years ago, but the official birth of the Centre of Excellence occurred in 2005 with a system inspecting finished automotive roller bearings. The technique was rapidly transferred in the fields of aerospace and energy to inspect compressor and gas turbine blades.
Today, AV&R's systems use machine vision, algorithms completely adapted by its team of engineers and robots mimicking human tasks to perform completely automated inspections on gas turbine parts such as blades, variable vanes and blisks / IBRs.
Here are some benefits of an Automated Visual Inspection system:
Elimination of human subjectivity in visual inspections;
Complete 100% inspection with guaranteed results;
Feedback on the process quality;
Higher production rates;
Elimination of the possibility of a non-conform part being shipped;
Ergonomic design to enhance operator safety and the work environment;
Increased customer satisfaction.
Automated Challenges Overcome
To automate high level human tasks, it requires considering many variations in the product's shape and in the inspection conditions for which humans are usually not even aware. For an automated machine, a small lighting variation or process variation can be seen as anomalies leading to a mismatch between the customer's actual quality evaluation and the system output, consequently rejecting the part.
Special algorithms are needed to have intuitive results from a human-like point of view and minimize false defect detection. Here are some fluctuations taken into account:
Normal variation in the shape of a part;
Color variation of some processes (such as heat treatment);
Positioning of some known features (not to be considered as anomalies);
Multiple part models to inspect through the same system.
Furthermore, to ensure that every portion of a part has been inspected, a special handling and image processing synchronization is needed.