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Johnson & Johnson Reduces Waste and Improves Efficiency with Machine Vision

Unilever In-Sight FMCG

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Leading consumer products manufacturer enhances automation

In Thailand, the consumer products market continues to remain solid due primarily to a high level of government support and strong exports. In order to leverage this market most effectively, global manufacturing companies need to find new ways to increase productivity and lower production costs while still delivering the highest quality consumer goods.

US-based Johnson & Johnson is one of the world’s largest producers of Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) such as baby care products, consumer health care products (Modess and Carefree), beauty care products (Clean & Clear and Neutrogena), and many others. In addition to China and India, Johnson & Johnson chose Thailand to be a regional manufacturing hub. The company’s factory is located in the Lad Krabang Industrial Estate Zone and employs more than 500 people.

Johnson & Johnson has an impeccable reputation for quality assurance (QA) because it has put the strictest standards of quality control at every stage of production. The company has made significant investments in technology and factory management systems, production process management, work safety and health standards, environmental impact analysis, and socially responsible activities.

Migration from sensor technology to vision sensor system and applications

Prior to adopting a vision system in the production line, the company used an existing sensor system to check the completeness of material layers and other components of sanitary napkin products. However, when additional product features are incorporated into new product designs, the existing sensor system could not read the newly release paper pattern and color properly. The existing sensor system triggered the shutdown signal, which caused the machine to stop. Every time the operation staff needed to adjust the sensor position, it resulted in significant production downtime and unnecessary waste.

In order to overcome this problem, Johnson & Johnson decided to upgrade their existing sensor system to a vision system that uses image capture technology. The goal with changing technologies was to reduce expenses associated with an incomplete production process and increase the production efficiency and effectiveness of the factory. More importantly, Johnson & Johnson deployed a vision system to maintain the standards of every product the company makes. According to Johnson & Johnson’s company slogan, “We never pass defect to customers.”

Servo Dynamics Company Limited, a Cognex Automation Solution Provider (ASP) in Thailand provides advice, assistance, and the best vision system solutions for companies both before and after installation. Prior to installation, Servo Dynamics recommended that Johnson & Johnson conduct a feasibility study and evaluate several vision systems products including Cognex.

The study provided a comparison of the detailed attributes of each vision system in terms of efficiency, functions and features, valuation speed, communication options with factory network and other back-end systems, and price. The Cognex vision system was tested and approved by the working team because it completely met Johnson & Johnson’s requirements in terms of features, reading rate speed, and ease of setting up the software application. Cognex was the only company that offered a complete line of machine vision products that support different requirements in each production line. In the end, the main differentiator for Johnson & Johnson was the fact that Cognex has invested heavily in its research and development of machine vision technology.

The engineering team of Johnson & Johnson worked in conjunction with the experts from Servo Dynamics to study and plan the implementation and integration of the vision system into the factory system. At the beginning, addressing the inconsistent value caused by light from the LED screen in various positions was a significant barrier to successful installation. The Servo Dynamics team solved this problem by programming the In-Sight Explorer software to put an adjustment on the installation position and the alignment of light and color value through the control body of the programmable logic controller (PLC) and ensuring this functionality can be easily applied and conveniently configured. The installation of the vision systems took only two months to complete. To date, Cognex vision systems are installed in eight Modess sanitary napkin production lines and one production line of CareFree sanitary napkins. Vision systems are also being installed in all four production lines of baby talcum powder.

Instant benefits gained from a new vision system

Johnson & Johnson has been successful in solving the problem of sensor error, reducing the production downtime rate to 0%, and reducing waste from machine ramp up. In the first year alone, the cost savings from preventing machine shutdown and reducing waste was valued at USD 27,905.04.

“In the past we had to use many Quality Assurance officers in random inspections of products at 15 minute intervals, including the operation officers who had to align the sensor system or electrical system manually. With Cognex vision systems in place, these jobs are easy and convenient as they only need to control the value alignment and make any adjustment right from the monitor screen,” stated Mr. Jenwich Mitravijarn, Engineer Leader of Johnson & Johnson.

“Moreover, we experienced that Cognex vision systems are easy to set up and configure even for a first time user. As our business requirements keep changing over time, the variety of Cognex products cater to those changes and truly meet our specific needs well. Another significant factor is Cognex’s before and after sale service. Cognex provides prompt support and expertise that helps us find the best solutions at each stage. This really gives us more confidence to invest in the future.”

Looking ahead, Johnson & Johnson is considering extending the installation of vision systems in the production lines of other products to cope with the higher market demand. Maintaining a high quality products has been, and continues to be, Johnson & Johnson’s first priority.

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