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Automotive Supplier Achieves Exceptional Quality with Vision Sensors

Ice Industries/Deerfield

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Vision sensors verify the presence of key stamped metal parts

Ice Industries’ Deerfield Manufacturing subsidiary in Mason, Ohio produces stamped metal frame frails. Nuts are welded to the frame rail after stamping is completed. If a customer were to receive a frame rail without a nut, Ice Industries would be subject to substantial penalties and responsible for containment and corrective action.

Traditionally, operators inspected each frame rail for the presence of the nut prior to packing. “The problem with manual inspection is that it is never 100% accurate,” said David Randall, Manufacturing Engineering Manager for Deerfield Manufacturing. “People have a tendency to get tired, bored, and start thinking of other things near the end of their shift. Our philosophy is to eliminate even a single bad part.”

Choosing Automation to Error-Proof Defect Detection

In order to improve detection rates, Deerfield management turned to Cognex machine vision. “We have often found the costs of machine vision systems to be prohibitive,” Randall said. “Besides the low cost, we liked the fact that [Cognex sensors] are so easy to use.” Today, Cognex vision sensors perform nut inspection without any downtime in Ice’s harsh factory environment.

After just a few minutes of initial programming, Cognex vision sensors can inspect a stamped part. Ice Industries programmed the vision sensor by first positioning the camera in the station so that the region of interest was visible on the screen. A laptop computer connected to the camera runs the setup software, which shows the camera image on the screen. Easy set-up features learn the nut’s attributes and set the appropriate pass/fail criteria.

“We adjusted the vision sensor with the intention that it will not pass a single part without a nut,” Randall said. “Since the fine tuning of the inspection parameters were completed, [the sensor] has detected every bad part...We will be expanding our use of machine vision in the future to ensure that we continue to exceed our customers’ expectations.”

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