Request: Create, develop and deploy an inline vision inspection system to confirm, in real time, the contents of a parts-kits on a manual packing line. The system would need to confirm the kits were packed with the correct quantity & color of parts, the parts were in the correct orientation, packaging materials were properly installed and the bar-code sticker affixed to the outside of the box matched the contents of the box.

Challenges:  Manual packing of kits allows the customer flexibility to adapt to frequent product and mix changes. Fluctuating demand is accommodated by flexing the workforce up or down to match demand. With regular personnel changes an ongoing necessity, untrained (or lightly trained) operators are a factor that must be managed. Experienced operators guide new operators and detailed work-instructions are available at each work-station; but this was not enough to keep incorrectly packaged kits from reaching consumers. Anticipating increasing volumes over time, and eventual relocation to a larger workshop, the system would also need to be portable.

Solution:  Utilizing Keyence vision technology, Marando designed and developed a portable inline inspection station dubbed ‘port-a-spect’. Suitable for almost any packaging line, the port-a-spect allows the operator to side or place the packaged kit under a vision sensor. The operator initiates an inspection by depressing a foot-pedal switch. The vision system then reads the bar-code on the side of the box to determine what the kit contents should be.

The system then inspects the contents of the box to confirm everything is present, the correct color, the correct orientation, and that all packing materials have been installed. If correct, the operator is shown a green light and instructed to pass the kit down stream. If anything is incorrect, the downstream machine is disabled and the operator is shown an image of the kit with the incorrect, missing or mis-located parts highlighted. The operator can then correct the kit and re-inspect. In effect, inexperienced operators receive real-time instructions from the vision system and reduce the likelihood that personnel changes will negatively impact quality performance.