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In-Sight Micro boosts automotive suppliers’ production

Visteon inspecting odometers with cognex in-sight

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…. “Using the new Cognex In-Sight® Micro vision system with its compact size and high performance, has ensured our customer can build their parts safe in the knowledge that there will be no product defects due to appliqué clipping.”  Visteon, based in Portugal, is using the new In-Sight Micro from Cognex as recommended and installed by Cognex specialist partner integrator Alphr Technology, based in the UK, to optimize the production of automotive control panels.

Wanted – pinpoint precision
Visteon is a leading supplier to the top automotive manufacturers in the world. With their business covering a number of key areas including Climate Control, Electronics, Interiors and Lighting, there is no room for error in product delivery. Among an impressive product range within their electronics business, Visteon supplies instrument panels for many executive car models across Europe. One vital element of the panel involves the appliqué, a plastic sheet incorporating the speedometer and tachometer markings. Each appliqué must be clipped into position with pinpoint precision; otherwise the vibration from driving the car could make the appliqué move, resulting in the incorrect speed and revolutions being shown.

High volume production requires a powerful vision solution
To ensure accurate assembly verification, it was time to bring in a powerful vision system which could not only could cope with Visteon’s high-volume panel production but also fit within the confines of the allocated space.

The partner of choice
Ensuring the most capable and cost-effective vision system would be used; Visteon called upon its trusted vision technology supplier Alphr Technology Ltd. Based in the UK, Alphr Technology has been working with Visteon for a number of years and had previously installed similar lines at their plant in Portugal, as well as other factories across Hungary, Mexico and India. Offering a complete solution, Alphr would design, build, program and retro-fit the system on-site at their facility in Portugal.

Precision inspection with the In-Sight Micro
Having assessed the project requirements, Alphr selected Cognex’s brand new high-performance In-Sight Micro to achieve the required inspection rates. Launched earlier this year and measuring just 30mm x 30mm x 60mm, the In-Sight Micro is a unique and powerful vision system, specifically designed to offer outstanding performance as well as fit within confined areas, a common issue in many production facilities.

This new system would also complement two existing Cognex In-Sight 1000 cameras, successfully inspecting pointer alignment for the speedometer, tachometer, fuel and temperature gauges on each instrument panel.

The production line
To cope with customer demand, two identical production lines were required, running simultaneously in three x eight hour shifts, five days a week, producing 2000 parts per day. Two In-Sight Micro cameras are fitted per production line and are mounted onto a FlexLink frame with LED spot lights mounted alongside the cameras.

Both production lines assemble the PCB with the necessary plastics and LCDs and fully test the parts. Using PatMax®, Cognex’s industry-leading geometric pattern matching technology, the cameras search for two plastic pips positioned at three o’clock and nine o’clock on each appliqué’s white circle. If these pips are obscured, the appliqué was placed on top of the clip rather than behind it and is therefore incorrectly affixed. The power of the PatMax software ensures each feature is located despite any process variation.

Each part is manually loaded onto the rig by an operator and then removed once the inspection is complete. Results are viewed on a PC monitor using a test program written in Visual Basic 6. Failure tickets are printed for the operators and all results are sent to a factory CIM system to monitor performance. Any defective parts are manually removed from the rig, once the operator has pressed the ‘reject acknowledgement’ key.

Success breeds success!
Speed of production has been unaffected despite the new inspection requirement; as the In-Sight Micros inspect each appliqué in a fraction of a second, ensuring production and optimum throughput remains constant. Declan McCabe, Applications Engineer at Alphr Technology was responsible for the electrical design, software development and installation, “Visteon was so impressed with the success of this project; they have requested a quotation for an identical system on another production line.”

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