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Accurate barcode reading on car transmission assembly line improves productivity

dpm code photo from cognex camera Hanwha TechM

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A barcode reader-based vision inspection system is essential for capturing accurate assembly and history management for each component on an automobile assembly line. The system must be robust enough to overcome unfavorable conditions such as oil, dust, humidity, and vibration for accurate barcode reading. Because these factors can have a direct impact on inspection results they must be considered when implementing a vision system. Automotive transmission manufacturer Hanwha TechM uses the In-Sight® barcode reader, with its broad viewing angle and high resolution to overcome these challenges on the assembly line.

Hanwha TechM manufactures transmissions for Ford Motor Company.  Ford needed a more accurate barcode reading solution to improve productivity and achieve zero defects at its manufacturing plant in Chongqing, China.  The solution needed to ensure accurate assembly and detect missing transmission carrier parts. To meet this challenge, Hanwha TechM has deployed the In-Sight barcode reader to successfully achieve the highest read rates, improve productivity, and implement a perfect history management system to satisfy Ford’s requirements.

Strict read conditions on transmission assembly lines

A transmission carrier consists of input, output, and reaction carrier parts. A Direct Part Mark (DPM) 2-D data matrix code is laser-marked on these components. The 2-D code contains important information such as lot number, serial number, factory information, and production time and date. To examine if the right parts are used in assembly and perform history and process management, this code is read by a barcode reader. The parts can then be managed throughout the production, assembly and distribution processes. Accurate code reading is directly proportional to production efficiency and product quality as well as a perfect history management system.

High read rates and user convenience

Park Woo-Sung, senior sales engineer of SHTECH, the system integrator working with Cognex Korea on this solution said, “What concerned us the most in the carrier assembly line was the inability to have the DPM code aligned in the same position because the parts were round. It is possible to achieve high read rates with a broad viewing angle only when the code on the parts is marked in a different position.” He continued, “Because Cognex’s In-Sight barcode reader has a broad viewing angle with high resolution, we were able to achieve better reading performance under any alignment conditions.”

He added, “In addition, the In-Sight barcode reader supports Ethernet which allows direct communication with a factory network. Therefore, we were able to set and operate communications very conveniently without a separate PC.  Because In-Sight Explorer software makes it possible to control diverse operating conditions, we were able to significantly enhance user convenience, compatibility, and flexibility.”

Hanwha TechM has dominated the Korean market in engine and transmission assembly. The largest automobile machine maker in Korea, Hanwha TechM has supplied its solution to the engine and transmission assembly line of major motor companies in China including GM, Ford, and Hyundai/Kia. Hanwha TechM regularly uses Cognex products for barcode reading and vision inspection.  An official from the Power Train Division of Hanwha TechM said, “Cognex products consist of strong IP-leveled hardware which is adequate under poor automobile manufacturing environments. They were highly praised thanks to high read rates, the easy-to-use program, and great compatibility with any interface.” He added, “SHTECH’s exquisite technical support and prompt response have also made Cognex’s products more satisfying and attractive.”

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