Inspection 2.0 – Will Machine Vision Surpass Manual Inspection?
Published on : Friday 15-09-2023
Explore the transformative impact of machine vision over manual inspection processes.
It is no wonder that automated machines have already started taking place in industrial settings, performing high-risk tasks that are prone to human errors and safety. Machine Vision is one such technology that enables machines to perform complex tasks with improved quality control and efficiency. Since this technology is gaining much prominence in various industries, will it replace manual inspection? How does machine vision deal with small defects? What is the scope of applications of machine vision? And why is there a need for machine vision inspection?
If these are the questions that you are trying to find answers to, you are at the right place. We will let you explore all aspects of machine vision, from its significance and applications in diverse industries to its challenges and superiority over manual inspection.
The potential of machine vision
As one of the cutting-edge technologies in the modern world, machine vision refers to a technological method to inspect and examine objects with precision using cameras, sensors, and computer algorithms. By resembling the human visual system, this technology enables machines to "see" and interpret visual data.
With an increased demand for Industrial Automation across different industries, the growth of machine vision is on the tremendous rise. According to a MarketsAndMarkets report, the global machine vision market is forecast to reach USD 17.2 billion by 2027 from USD 12 billion in 2022. The market is growing at a CAGR of 7.4% during the projected duration.
A wide range of industries have leveraged and are harnessing the potential of machine vision. But why? Machine vision is crucial to industrial businesses, especially in inspection, offering enhanced automation, quality control, and efficiency.
Machine vision helps companies with high-speed inspection. It has the ability to assess thousands of images per second, ensuring real-time, continuous inspection of production lines.
Machine vision systems provide consistency and accuracy to businesses by eliminating the subjective nature of manual inspection.
For delicate components, machine vision is a critical technology as it allows for the inspection of objects without actually changing or harming them.
Modern algorithms allow machine vision systems to discover flaws that might avoid the attention of human operators.
Why is machine vision superior to manual inspection?
Since machine vision offers a variety of key features, it has several advantages over traditional manual inspection methods.
High Precision and Accuracy: Systems that use machine vision are able to measure and find small details that the human eye might find difficult to notice. This accuracy is necessary for tasks like measuring dimensions, finding defects, and ensuring accurate alignment.
Speed and Throughput: Machine vision systems have the ability to process images quickly - often more quickly than the human eye. As a result, their throughput and productivity are increased because they can quickly inspect and analyse a large number of goods or components.
Complex Data Analysis: Unlike patterns, colors, shapes, and textures, which can be a daunting task for humans to consistently and objectively assess, machine vision systems can process and analyse complex data very easily.
Consistency and Reliability: Humans are susceptible to drowsiness, monotony, and attentional shifts, all of which can cause errors in manual inspection. However, regardless of the time, day, or number of items being inspected, machine vision systems continue to operate at a high level, ensuring reliable and accurate results.
Rapid Decision-Making: When defects or deviations from the expected criteria are detected, machine vision systems can make decisions in real time based on the evaluated data, triggering automated responses or alerts.
Cost-Effectiveness: Although machine vision systems' initial setup costs can be higher, the money saved over time by improved productivity and less labor outweighs the initial investment.
24/7 Operation: Machine vision is capable of working continuously throughout the day and night. This is especially helpful for industries that need 24-hour production and inspection.
How has machine vision created its superiority?
Machine vision technology finds applications across a wide range of industries and business functions. Companies utilise machine vision systems to examine, interpret, and process images and videos to speed up their inspection and quality control processes with precision. The areas where inspections are performed and machine vision technology can be revolutionary include raw materials, automobile parts, electronic components, building materials, food, and medical supplies.
In such areas, machine vision testing can be very useful as it offers solutions to a critical problem in personnel testing, which is instability. Inspection using this technology can surpass manual inspection because humans will fail to check and will be tired, which will create negligence in testing. Such issues will not arise with machine vision detection equipment as long as the algorithm is carefully written, meticulously implemented, and tirelessly implemented.
Let us have a look at some examples of machine vision across various industries. To make autonomous vehicles possible, machine vision is required. Self-driving vehicle manufacturers like BMW, Volvo, Tesla, and Audi leverage several cameras, radar, lidar, and ultrasonic sensors to gather images of the environment so that their self-driving vehicles can safely detect objects, lane markings, signs, and traffic signals. Other examples of machine vision include facial recognition, healthcare, agriculture, real-time sports tracking, and the Google Translate app.
In the healthcare sector, 90 percent of all medical data is image based. Extracting valuable insights from these data for better diagnosis requires a tool or software that can perform this task with precision. In such circumstances, machine vision has a crucial role to play. From enabling new medical diagnostic methods to assess X-rays, mammography, and other scans to monitoring patients to spot problems earlier and assist with surgery, machine vision provides medical institutions and professionals with the solution to treat their patients better.
Implementation of automated inspection system
There is not much physical equipment needed to use artificial intelligence technology. It only needs a feeding system, an optical system, and a separation system in terms of hardware. However, the software must be reliable. It necessitates advanced image analysis algorithms as well as extensive programming. For the systems to detect significant variations from the "standard" appearance, thousands of images are frequently used in their training.
AI and machine vision are automating mundane and complex tasks such as inspections. This allows humans to concentrate on more complex tasks. AI costs are expected to fall as efficiency improves. As manufacturers seek higher levels of productivity and efficiency, machine vision and deep learning will also be crucial components of Industry 4.0.
Depending on the precise defect that the system is inspecting, machine vision systems are positioned differently on production lines. Because of the highly customised setup of cameras, lighting, and alignment materials, machine vision is only used during production when your design is locked. Machine vision systems are not actively used to solve problems or improve processes because reconfiguring them is difficult and expensive.
Automated inspection – Is this the end of manual inspection?
Machine Vision and Artificial Intelligence-driven inspection are indispensable in production and manufacturing. With deep learning, industrial businesses can get faster, cheaper, and superior automation for inspection practices. As most inspection processes take place at regular intervals, automation will be an ideal solution.
Machine vision systems can also perform tasks that are beyond the capabilities of human vision. These systems can be seen in the ultraviolet, x-ray, and infrared regions of the spectrum. On assembly lines, they can even inspect hundreds or thousands of components per minute. So, in the debate of automated inspection vs. manual inspection, will machine vision testing and inspection surpass manual inspection?
Even though machine vision has many advantages, it is important to understand that it might not completely replace manual inspection in all circumstances. In some conditions, manual inspection is still useful, particularly when human dexterity and subjective judgment are needed. However, the rapid development of machine vision technology is gradually expanding the capabilities of automated inspection.
Major players in machine vision inspection systems
There are an increasing number of renowned businesses and start-ups in India that provide cutting-edge machine vision technologies and solutions. These players offer a wide range of services for numerous sectors, including manufacturing, healthcare, agriculture, and more. We have listed below some of the top Indian startups and companies in the machine vision technology sector.
Planys Technologies: Planys Technologies specialises in smart underwater inspection solutions. The company pioneers cutting-edge technologies across non-destructive testing (NDT), marine robotics, and intelligent data analytics and reporting.
CynLr: CynLr is a Bengaluru-based visual object intelligence platform that builds a flexible, perceptually intelligent robotic arm solution. This solution can autonomously recognise and handle any object, even from clutter.
iSenses: iSenses is a machine intelligence company providing services for imaging, autonomy, and digitisation of assets and processes. The company offers PV Inspection and Maintenance, inspection services for Wind Turbines, and Multiple Object Tracking (MOT).
UAVIO: A manufacturer of AI-based computer vision automated drones, UAVIO helps companies automate their inventory management. Its software-only autonomous inventory management platform is designed for modern warehouses.
ImageProVision Technology: As one of the leading Indian companies, ImageProVision Technology specialises in the physical testing space, with an emphasis on Image Analytics. Its products and services are spread across the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical, life sciences, chemical, and defense sectors.
Other major players offering innovative inspection solutions across various industries are Uncanny Vision, Learcade Technologies, XenonStack, StrataEnviro, and SenseHawk.
In addition, there are a vast number of global companies and startups that provide innovative machine vision technologies and solutions. These companies deal in a wide range of products and solutions, ranging from machine vision systems, sensors, and software to cameras and AI-based platforms for diverse industries.
Some of the leading global players driving innovation in the industry with machine vision include Cognex, Pleora Technologies, Omron Automation, Optotune, ISRA Vision, QxSoft, USS Vision, IVISYS, National Instruments Corporation, and Keyence, among others. Major startup companies include Clarifai, ViSenze, Robovision, AnyVision, Deepomatic, V7 Labs, Neurala, Zivid, Aibee, and others.
There are various lucrative applications of machine vision, revolutionising the inspection process across industries and offering unmatched speed, accuracy, and efficiency. With the development of technology, machine vision systems will probably be embedded in a variety of industries.
Although manual inspection will always have a place in quality control, we at Industrial Automation believe the advancements in machine vision will herald a fundamental shift in that direction. Also, companies and entrepreneurs should harness the real potential of machine vision in inspection to enhance productivity, minimise errors, and advance product quality.