Engine Block Traceability

Track engine blocks through production and beyond

Silver Engine Block with yellow dipstick

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Automotive part suppliers use traceability to track parts through the supply chain. Engine blocks are tracked with a 10-digit alphanumeric serial number cast into its body, and the serial numbers are used to identify the blocks through the final machining stage. When a defective engine block is identified, the root cause and operation are determined. Because all engine blocks have a unique serial number, future recalls can be isolated to only those affected.

Engine Block Traceability Challenges

Tracing parts through manufacturing processes has various challenges. For example, parts of the serial numbers may be removed or become illegible after the casting process. Manual sanding by an operator, that is intended to simply remove residue caused by the casting process, may dramatically alter the appearance of the individual characters if too much material is removed.

Combining Cognex® vision software, a camera and a red spotlight results in very fast, error-free visual confirmation of serial numbers for engine block traceability. The Cognex SearchMax vision tool is used to determine the 3D orientation of the serial number. Once the location of the serial number is determined, the Cognex vision software uses proprietary character reading technology to read individual characters.

The Cognex OCRMax character reading algorithm has the flexibility to tolerate changes in the appearance of individual characters and the background of the engine block resulting in 99.99% read rates.

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