Quality Innovations: Single Camera Success

November 24, 2008
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The system scans the entire vehicle at high resolution using only one sensor per side. Source: USS Engineered Control Systems Inc.


Getting more information for less money is one of the benefits of the Exact Scan system. Another benefit is less maintenance for the system and simplified integration.

The USS Exact Scan single camera system inspects the entire body side of a vehicle as it moves down an assembly line, inspecting for features such as badges, emblems, decals, door handles, running boards, wheels, lights, bumpers and body-side cladding. For example, it can ensure that Mustang emblems only go on Mustangs.

The system came about when a customer requested a system to track badging and emblems; USS Engineered Control Systems Inc. (Livonia, MI) made the product to order and developed the system at the customer’s plant, on the factory floor.

“We were given an opportunity to develop this product at the auto factory as opposed to just working in our R&D center,” says Justin Weber, USS program manager. “Developing this product on the factory floor, exposed to real-life plant conditions, gave us successful results and yielded a system we can deploy into other plants.”

This setup meant that the customer was involved with the project from the beginning and able to provide direct feedback. After two months of development, USS released the Exact Scan.

The system consists of a single line-scan vision system and special lighting specifically designed for automotive applications. It integrates into assembly lines and uses only one sensor per side, reducing overall cost. The software is Windows-based.

Though the product was developed for automotive assembly, body shop and power train applications, it can be applied to any application where a customer wants to take a high-resolution picture of a part, Weber says.

The system is able to inspect for many different features at the same time-and it also can do so at a low cost.

“With this system, we were able to inspect the whole vehicle at the same price as a simple badging camera,” Weber says.

The USS Exact Scan single camera system inspects multiple features on the vehicle as it moves down an assembly line. Source: USS Engineered Control Systems Inc.

USS can take an application that ordinarily might need one camera or sensor per feature inspected, meaning 10 features would require 10 cameras, and complete the job with one system. The cost is lowered and integration simplified.

Though USS still provides single-camera, area-scan systems for some customers, this system could save customers money, as it is able to replace $250,000 systems, Weber says. At $32,000, the product is not cheap, but the price includes integration, mounting, fixturing and a computer workstation. If a customer can get a $32,000 system instead of a quarter million-dollar system, that alone makes the product stand out, he says.

The system is composed of off-the-shelf technology. “Line scan systems have been around for years,” Weber points out. “We’re not using anything untested, just a standard Windows-based PC.” While the components are not extraordinary, the system is more than the sum of its parts.

“We’re using all of these off-the-shelf components, but with the software we developed, we’re taking off-the-shelf components and doing something that hasn’t been done before,” Weber says.

The system will not work for every application, however. “This system is specifically made for applications where the product is consistently presented on an assembly line,” Weber explains.

If the parts are not on an assembly line, or are loosely presented, the system would not be a good fit. In fact, when Weber spoke to Quality Magazine, he was at a plant where USS did not quote the system. At this particular plant, USS looked at the line where the automotive company wanted to implement the system, and it was not well presented to the sensor.

However, as long as the customer has a repeatable assembly line, it should work well and help customers extract all of the data they need. After companies purchase a vision system, they want to get all the data they can out of it, and data collection is another advantage of the system.

“You might have a system that is measuring door gaps and the company might want to see variance in door gaps for the entire system for a month,” Weber says. “The system would be able to provide this information.”

For those looking for traceability, the system also looks at the vehicle identification number (VIN) and stores all features that should have been on that car. If there is a failure, the system will log it with the VIN number and note what should have been there, and include an image from the inspection.

When the vehicle goes by the system, it will alert the repair bay of failure, page the appropriate engineer and report exactly what failed.

Technology Contact

For more information on the Exact Scan, contact:
    USS Engineered Control Systems Inc.
    33006 Seven Mile Rd., #502
    Livonia, MI 48152
    (734) 522-8100
    info@ussvision.com
    www.ussvision.com


Specifications

  • The system consists of a single line-scan vision system and special lighting specifically designed for automotive applications. Its total width is 3 feet.

  • The system scans on the fly at 9,000 pixels by 2,000 pixels or 9,000 pixels by 4,000 pixels.

  • The software is Windows-based, and the system communicates via Ethernet, serially or USB.
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