How Do Automated Visual Inspection Systems Work?

Over the last decade, automated visual inspection (AVI) technology has evolved to the extent that it is now integral in many manufacturing environments around the world. As a smart manufacturing initiative, automated visual inspection systems combine machine vision technology and computer algorithms to inspect and analyze visual information automatically. These systems are commonly used by manufacturers in quality control processes to identify defects, ensure product quality, and streamline production. 

Automated visual inspection systems are designed to identify product deformities, contamination, and other abnormalities that can lead to the production of faulty or less effective parts. By using advanced visual recognition techniques, these systems help ensure that the manufactured parts meet the required standards.

The Advantage of Automated Visual Inspection 

The primary advantage of automated visual inspection, and the reason it works so effectively, is that the system allows companies to achieve maximum production while maintaining the highest quality standards for their products. The traditional method of ensuring quality control standards for companies relies on a pool of employees with sufficient training to manually inspect the quality of sample items pulled from a production or assembly line. Compared to an automated visual inspection system, manual inspection processes are time-consuming, relatively subjective with a chance for human error, and, most importantly, place limits on production capacity. 

In short, although quality control is a vital component of production to ensure the products a company is manufacturing work as designed and are of the highest quality, there has always been an inherent drawback with the traditional method of QC. The act of physical inspection is not just time-consuming. Manual inspection adds time to production cycles as the number of inspections possible is limited by the number of inspectors available. This can not only slow total production capacity, but hinder production scalability during peak demand.

How Automated Visual Inspection Systems Work

Automated visual inspection is the process that involves leveraging various technologies to identify and categorize flaws in manufactured goods. It relies on machine vision technology and deep learning algorithms that enhance quality control procedures. AVI systems analyze visual data, such as images or videos, to detect defects and to ensure that products meet the required standards. By automating the inspection process, AVI helps improve efficiency and accuracy in quality assurance. In essence, automated vision inspection systems combine ever-improving imaging hardware capabilities with advanced software programs to give machines the ability to “see.”

Machine Vision Technology 

The machine vision technology component of AVI is an automated digital imaging-based inspection and analysis tool that combines various technologies to manage repetitive tasks during production line activities. The technology can be customized and integrated to perform a variety of production-related functions to improve and enhance quality and productivity. Machine vision imaging technology captures visual data in the form of images or videos using a robotic guidance system and camera-like sensors. This allows the AVI system to monitor parts, components, or products for visual inspection and analysis while on production lines to ensure the item is processed correctly and meets quality standards. 

The Importance of Deep Learning Algorithms

AVI relies on machine learning and deep learning algorithms to analyze visual data, as well. These deep learning algorithms are trained on large datasets to recognize specific patterns in a neural network—ones that identify various types of defects. Once the patterns, i.e., algorithms, are learned by the machine they can be applied to new data to analyze and further identify defects. 

Deep learning algorithms are then combined with automated visual inspection technology to analyze visual data. This integration allows the system to identify and differentiate various components, abnormalities, and characters in the visual data. By simulating a human visual examination, the computerized system can effectively perform tasks that would typically require human intervention and do so with greater speed and efficiency.

Automated visual inspection systems offer manufacturers benefits such as increased inspection speed, improved accuracy, and reduced reliance on manual labor for quality control tasks. It also plays a crucial role in ensuring product quality, reducing defects, and improving overall efficiency in manufacturing processes. As the technology continues to evolve with advancements in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and machine vision, AVI will achieve more sophisticated and accurate inspections.

Contact the Experts at EAM, Inc.

EAM is at the forefront of custom-engineered industrial automation products, support, and development. If your company is preparing or is ready to integrate a custom automated visual inspection system in your facility, or for more information on how AVI technology can increase efficiency, and production capacity and improve quality control for your company, contact EAM today.