This is a sponsored post about “Minimizing Manufacturing Mistakes” Please see the disclosure page for more information.
Have you ever purchased a box of individually packaged snacks? I’ve got kids so it’s almost a weekly occurrence for refilling our snack bin. A couple weeks ago, I was refilling the bin and noticed one package seemed unreasonable light. It was completely sealed but empty! Weird right?
Being the nerd that I am made me curious about how this could happen. My former life was engineering. Before kids I worked as an engineering consultant and had been a senior process engineer before that. So how a system works is intriguing to me. Being giddy over an empty bag that had been sealed in production before the goods were inside just brought me a little hint of joy and mystery.
I’m betting six sigma on almost 99.7% of manufacturing have a quality department (heh heh a little joke is in there for all your six sigma fans; probably only 68% of you will get it bwahahaha!). Seriously, most manufacturing processes include quality assurance. It’s not an easy position to have in a company. You are the person looking for people’s or machine’s mistakes. You are the one trying to catch the empty snack bag before it leaves the building and makes its way to a nerdy blogger like me.
With millions of separate snack bags made daily in the US, keeping up with quality checking them can’t be done manually. I wasn’t in the food industry but know that manually checking a sampling of millions of snacks daily on a continuing basis is impossible. The constraints for this is unmanageable not only because of time but who in the world could consume that many quality checked snacks in a day. Although, the pay might be decent and the food benefits would be astronomical. LOL
So how does a company go about addressing manufacturing mistakes and how to minimize them? Click here to find out! I am biased, but I believe having a stellar process is key. This doesn’t only mean how many machines will be needed or people or the layout but most importantly how to verify quality. If the quality of the product is lacking, customers will stop coming back for more.
One of my favorite stories of growing up is touring manufacturing facilities with my dad when I was a wee little one, probably 10-12 years old. Somehow, he would get me into all sorts of different manufacturing facilities to do tours. He was a salesman and would take me along to teach me different things. I’ve been through furniture plants, machining plants, plants that assembled air conditioners, paper mills(at an older age), and more. I will never forget the moment in my life that I decided to have a professional career. We were touring a manufacturing facility that I can’t even remember what it was for but there was a lady sitting on a stool in front of this window that parts were dipped into and drug the length of this giant tank. Her entire job was to watch that window and if any bubbles appeared on a part, she would shut down the production line. She did her job well and I remember her being a really nice person. But whew, I knew I didn’t want to have to work a job staring at a window waiting for bubbles all day long.
That’s where vision systems, specifically machine vision, have revolutionized manufacturing. With an Industrial Engineering background, my favorite part of machine vision is that it doesn’t have fatigue and won’t get distracted like a person would. Visiting Sally at the window in my childhood could have caused a defect to go unnoticed. A machine won’t do that.
Another benefit of machine vision system is the speed at which it can capture the image to be inspected or recorded, send that image to the processor for analysis against the set of pre-programmed rules, and then information is relayed back to the manufacturing process to trigger automatic events such as part acceptance, rejection, routing of the product to different production lines or even diverting the product or even package to say a specific bay door for shipping.
Read back through that sentence.
Count all of those steps and think about the manpower it would take to do this manually with the possibility exponentially increasing of an empty snack bag getting to a customer due to using human interaction with the product. (Well, honestly, the snack bag is not the best example for machine vision for quality, they probably were using a weighing system. But I digress.)
My point is in all of this is machine vision is incredible. I know I know, the consummate nerd in me is talking. But how else would major players like UPS, FedEx, and Amazon expertly sort over 20 million packages a day??? A day!!! With that many packages being sorted per day, there are bound to be mistakes right? But percentage wise the numbers are ridiculously low because of machine vision. Is anyone as amazed by this as I am?!
I don’t know a better way to minimize manufacturing mistakes than using machine vision for the quality process. The amount of time it saves for processing is equally impressive. Plus, there are the amounts of money that is saved from faster production time, to better quality, and to better sales. It’s hard to understand why a company wouldn’t use machine vision in their processes.