Our latest article put's a focus on the how to build your low cost inspection network while simultaneously reducing risk.
Let's look at the logic often employed when choosing a piece of equipment. Purchasing a vision system solution is a large CapEx cost to your organisation. This article highlights a strategy for risk reduction of this purchase.
If a consumer goes out to choose a car, most will weight up all the considerations. The engine size, the options, the warranty and of course the brand. But the key factor is the cost. If there are two cars the same, and one twice the cost, would the consumer buy? No look at the chart below, the budget and color are two key requirements that do not change. There is little loyalty to brand and model.
Often when choosing equipment, industrial engineers do not like to take risks. The result is often they pay too much for older technology.
So how do you reduce risk?
- Build a Vision Map. Understand the best location to install the system and any other types of vision systems. Download the whitepaper on planning.
- What are the key requirements as to performance? Have you been able to get a complete sample set tested? Are you absolutely clear on the resolution required, the optical setup and the algorithm to be employed?
- What is the correct technology to use? Is the vendor pushing some canned product that he can sell for the best gross margin? Turnkey solutions with a fixed price are often the preferred route, but remember that the vendor is then incentivised to use the cheapest hardware to optimize their profits. Understand what you are purchasing. The key is vendor independence through the use of commercial off the shelf technology. (COTs)
- Machine vision companies are 80% software and 20% system engineering. Think about open formats and if the platforms that they are proposing will support 3rd party software integration. That's the first question you would ask if purchasing a software platform.
Common shortcomings when buying a vision system
Think about how machine vision systems have been used and purchased to date. The vision system has been bought for one purpose only, to inspect a product on a line and to alert the operator of any defects. This is usually in response to a customer complaint. This is very much analogous to security systems in the home. Often we do not take action until we have had an incident. So very little forward planning has been done.
The inspection system as used is dedicated to alert major defects to an operator. If an inspection system is on a line where the product can be rejected in real time then corrective action may not even be taken until almost all product is rejected. Very often the purchase of an inspection system is done as part of a larger project and is deemed an add on. There is often no thought how it is going to integrate with companies wider operations. The equipment acts as an island used by the operator for that moment on that line.
The return on investment is based on reduced customer complaints and if used at the point of production (this is not always the case) a reduction in inline waste. If an inspection system is used to inspect material on a final process for defects introduced upstream it will not reduce waste. It may reduce customer returns. The net result is that the vision system is seen as a cost
The message is simple. It's all about planning. Fail to plan, plan to fail! The key is to expand your team so that you have experts at hand, especially in the early stages. Vision systems are basically IT solutions. When building an IT solution, most companies have clearly defined plans and goals, and then work with a close partner that has the domain expertise to implement that plan. They rarely segment the system into parts and offer each element to the lowest bidder, who then supplies the cheapest hardware to do the job.
Download our whitepaper below to read more about planning and reducing risk when specifying your vision system. If you have any questions or would like more information do not hesitate to contact us today.