Why are 3D measurement systems for automated quality control so important for today's manufacturers? More and more...
More and more manufacturers are adopting automated 3D quality control measurement systems to detect problems before they escalate and drive up costs. They also help to improve overall product quality, increase yields, reduce obsolete and time-consuming manual inspections, and boost competitiveness.
Let's take a closer look at automated quality control systems and how they are transforming industrial processes.
What's the difference between manual and automated inspections?
There's a big difference between manual and automated inspection processes.
What are automated quality control inspections?
With fully manual inspections, technicians and operators measure, inspect and evaluate products, either along the production line or at certain intervals during the production cycle. Manual interventions rely solely on human observation, and no inspection equipment or technology.
Other manufacturers carry out First Article Inspections (FAI) in a dedicated metrology laboratory, using coordinate measuring machines (CMMs). While such inspections may appear automated, they require the intervention of a metrologist or CMM expert to manually load, operate and unload the CMM.
However, inspections of this type can be a source of human error and rely on the expertise of technicians to ensure smooth operation, which can affect the accuracy and reliability of 3D measurements. In addition, manual inspections can lead to significant bottlenecks, depending on the efficiency of the inspectors, as well as the availability of the laboratory and CMM. Finally, metrologists can't inspect every part or product in a high-throughput environment. The result? Reduced efficiency and compromised production lead times.
What are automated quality control inspections?
Automated quality control virtually eliminates all the disadvantages associated with manual inspection using a traditional CMM.
These automated quality inspection systems are used for a wide range of applications, such as in-line and production line First Article Inspection (FAI), in-process inspection of parts and tools, supplier part evaluation, and digitization of quality control measurements for traceability and archiving.
How does automation improve quality?
Automated quality control solutions offer many advantages for improving the quality of parts and whole products. Here are just a few examples of how quality can be improved:
Faced with a shortage of experienced CMM operators, manufacturers are increasingly turning to automated quality control solutions not only to eliminate bottlenecks in production, but also to improve part quality during inspection, since automated systems are not subject to human error. What's more, qualified employees can then be assigned to value-added tasks, such as data analysis.
Automated quality control improves the reliability of 3D measurements. Automated inspection ensures measurement accuracy on complex parts and high production line throughput.
These systems make it possible to collect more data from a larger number of parts more quickly. With sophisticated inspection reports, manufacturers can make better decisions based on reliable results from a large number of components.
Thanks to the large amounts of 3D data that automated quality control systems can capture, a manufacturer's quality control operations can provide dynamic, real-time analysis of production quality, as well as comprehensive compliance testing for customers.
What are the advantages of automated inspections?
The gains offered by automated inspections are not limited to improving product and part quality. Manufacturers can also take advantage of their automated quality control process to :
Measure more parts per hour with the same number of dimensions
Measure only the essential dimensions of a larger number of parts, to increase the number of parts measured per hour
Measure the same number of parts, but obtain more information on each part to create a history and improve traceability
Measure more parts and more dimensions per hour
Defects and anomalies can be detected more quickly, and corrective action taken to anticipate downtime and meet production deadlines.
Reducing headcount problems
Many manufacturers find it difficult to recruit qualified and experienced quality control personnel. In a competitive market, metrology specialists and quality control inspectors are often hard to find.
Automated quality control systems can provide a solution to labour shortages. The new generation of 3D scanning CMMs for automated quality control are highly intuitive and easy to use. Production staff can use them without expertise in robotics or metrology. Of course, members of the quality control department still have to prepare inspection programs in advance, but production teams can use the automated quality control solution on a daily basis.
It is important to note that the software integration of an automated quality control system means that technicians or engineers do not need any prior knowledge of robotics. The latest generation of metrology and acquisition software automatically calculates, simulates and executes robot trajectories, using a comprehensive inspection program.
In short, automated quality control systems reduce recruitment, integration and training costs.
Reduce total quality control costs
In addition to savings in labor costs and efficiency, automated quality control solutions also reduce the total cost of quality control.
Did you know that, according to the American Society for Quality, quality problems can cost manufacturers up to 40 % of their sales? The costs associated with the lack of conformity of a part or product have a variety of origins:
Modification and disposal
Production line lead times
Recalls and repairs
Purchase of new materials
Modification of the production program to take account of new cycles
New test phases
Costs associated with non-compliance with service level agreements
And much more
Of course, automated quality control systems can greatly reduce four of the main costs of quality: prevention, assessment, internal and external failure.
Automated quality inspections also help companies to grow, and not just through productivity gains and reduced quality costs.
Improved product quality enables companies to create more complex parts and products, which can open up new business opportunities. Finally, better quality represents a reliable indicator for customers and end-users, who are encouraged to buy again.
How to choose the ideal automated quality control system?
To choose the right automated quality control solution for your company, you need to start by assessing your current inspection process and identifying the main and most recurring problems.