Vision Examples in the Automotive Industry

Using Vision to Inspect and Manage 30,000+ Parts

In the automotive industry, even minor malfunctions may lead to grave accidents. The demands for quality and accuracy are high, and inspection standards are set high to meet them. Car generally consists of over 30,000 parts, including tiny bolts. The number of parts is increasing due to multifunctionalization. It is not easy to perfectly inspect these parts and manage the information.

For manufacturers of finished cars, it is imperative to quickly identify the extent of the impact when recalls are issued and collect the relevant products. Otherwise, the company will suffer great losses and their brand will be damaged. In Japan, the End-of-Life Vehicles Recycling Law was enacted in few years ago and recycling of materials such as airbags and CFCs has been made compulsory. Consequently, it is urgent that traceability covering not only manufacturing of parts and assembly of whole vehicles but also maintenance, inspection and vehicle disposal.

The need for a database of inspection results and other information is thus increasing year after year. Image processing has been getting attention as a way to achieve this. It is expected that replacing inspections that rely on human eyes and experience with image processing will increase efficiency and achieve both cost reduction and accuracy improvement. The following are actual introduction examples of image processing systems in the automotive industry. Please use them as a guide to improve efficiency at your production sites and ensure traceability.

Presence/Absence Inspection

Inspect whether a moisture-proof agent is applied properly on ECUs using a vision system.

Key inspection points

Since typical moisture-proof agents are transparent, it was difficult to recognize the application and sometimes defective application was overlooked. Use a moisture-proof agent containing a fluorescence agent, illuminate the target with a UV light and capture the image with a 21 megapixel camera. This allows high-accuracy inspection of the application of the agent which was difficult with conventional methods.

Recognition result with a 21 megapixel vision system

Inspect whether fuses are installed correctly in a fuse box using a vision system.

Key inspection points

Since fuses have the same shape, it was difficult to differentiate them with a monochrome camera. Inspection for incorrect fuse configuration can be achieved through capturing colors or characters with a color camera. The Auto-Teach Inspection tool allows you to complete settings by just registering an OK product, so operation is easy even when there are many types of products.

Recognition result with a vision system

Appearance Inspection

Check for appearance defects such as cracks or clogging in DPFs (Diesel Particulate Filters) using a vision system.

Key inspection points

Appearance inspection of DPFs or catalysts for cracks or clogging was difficult due to the large target size. Using a 21 megapixel camera offering the highest number of pixels in the industry enables high-accuracy inspection.

Recognition result using a 21 megapixel vision system

Check for appearance defects such as chipping or burrs on oil seals using a vision system.

Key inspection points

For oil seals, it is extremely important to inspect their contact surfaces for chipping or burrs. Stable inspection was difficult because they deformed easily. This problem can be solved with the new defect-detection mode "Trend edge stain," that extracts a profile from the edge information of the target and identifies as defects those sections that greatly deviate from the profile.

Recognition result with a vision system

Inspect engine valve heads for flaws or stains using a vision system.

Key inspection points

Conventional area cameras were not capable of detecting surface stains or individual differences that were specific to forged products. The "LumiTrax function" allows accurate detection of defective shapes.

Recognition result with a vision system and LumiTrax

Inspect appearance, such as the coating on the sides of pistons, using a vision system.

Key inspection points

With an area camera, it was difficult to determine optimum lighting condition due to lighting unevenness. With a line scan camera, it is easy to obtain an evenly-lighted image.

Recognition result with a line scan camera

Inspect differential gears for flaws or stains using a vision system.

Key inspection points

For the inspection of cylindrical targets such as gears for remaining black scales, stains, flaws, or dents, it was difficult to apply lighting evenly. This may cause inconsistent inspection result. With a line scan camera, a flat, evenly-lighted image can be generated and used for inspection.

Recognition result with a line scan camera

Dimension inspection

Inspect the connector terminals of ECU units using a vision system.

Key inspection points

KEYENCE offers a package of tools for connector inspection. You can start inspection quickly without configuring calculations. Using a 21 megapixel camera improves the inspection accuracy.

Recognition result with a 21 megapixel vision system

Inspect the dimensions of spark plugs using a vision system.

Key inspection points

Dimension inspection of complex-shaped targets required the use of multiple measurement tools and calculations. KEYENCE's image processing system offers dimensions/geometry tools that allow high-accuracy inspection with intuitive operation.

Recognition result with a vision system

Positioning/alignment

Vision systems make the alignment of battery cells easy.

Key inspection points

Easy configuration and flexible customization support the alignment required in the battery cell manufacturing process. Using a 21 megapixel camera enables the inspection of large targets.

Alignment using a 21 megapixel vision system

Position targets for robot picking using a vision system.

Key inspection points

The combination of robot and camera allows more flexible picking. Control does not require any teaching or programming, and the man-hours for startup and changeover are significantly reduced.

Recognition inspection

Read 2D codes marked on fuel pumps using a vision system.

Key inspection points

Reading the 2D codes marked on parts with a vision system to identify the parts ensures traceability. Conventional methods sometimes could not read the codes due to the surface condition or reflection of the parts. KEYENCE's vision system allows accurate identification.

Recognition result with a vision system

Use a vision system to capture an image of the part numbers marked on injectors and read them with the OCR tool.

Key inspection points

Read the part numbers marked on injectors with the OCR tool. The part numbers can be read accurately without being affected by marking quality. This prevents the mixing of different types.

Recognition result with a vision system

Recognize characters marked on cast parts using a vision system.

Key inspection points

It was difficult to introduce vision systems for the recognition of characters marked on cast parts due to difficult lighting conditions. However, the combination of the LumiTrax function and an area camera allows low-cost, stable detection.

Recognition result with an area camera and LumiTrax

3D image processing

Measure the height of solder using a 3D camera.

Key inspection points

Solder inspection was difficult with 2D cameras. 3D cameras can measure height, so solder can be inspected accurately. Use the height extraction function that converts 3D height images into gray-scale images (mm → shade) to generate a cross-sectional image at a specified height, such as 0.1 mm above the PCB surface. Using the cross-sectional area and shape of the image achieves stable fillet inspection.

Recognition result with a 3D camera

Judge welding status using a laser displacement sensor and 3D vision inspection.

Key inspection points

Measuring welding width or gaps may not be stable with an area camera depending on the surface conditions. The combination of a laser displacement sensor and an image processing system enables accurate judgment using a 3D image based on height information.

Recognition result with a laser displacement sensor and 3D measurement

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