Product integrity is a real issue for manufacturers and consumers alike. Companies heavily invest in equipment and technology to aid in fast production. However, the speed at which the products are produced, packaged, and labeled leaves room for possible defects. One unidentified defect in the production chain may affect both the brand and the consumer.
Manufacturers are now focused on product inspection to help identify and correct any defect before it goes further into the production line. But still, the fast nature of production means manual inspection isn’t the best way to conduct an inspection. Therefore, many manufacturers have resorted to using automatic inspection systems.
Using an automated system offers several advantages such as higher accuracy, higher speed, lower costs, and consumer protection. However, achieving these benefits doesn’t come automatically once you purchase an inspection system. There are a few crucial practices that you’ll need to do to get the best out of it. Here are some tips that will help you maximize automated product inspection:
1. Choose a Reliable Vendor
Once you decide to automate your inspection system, ensure that you’re working with a reliable vendor. If you’re purchasing an inspection system such as TDI Packsys food metal detector or an X-ray inspection system, it should be from a provider who prioritizes quality inspection.
One way to choose a good vendor is by searching online and reviewing their profiles to see if they match what you need. You can also ask for referrals from people who have purchased inspections systems before.
2. Create an Inspection Baseline
Your inspection system team should have a baseline to work with. The baseline will help them know what’s acceptable and what isn’t, and what counts as a correct label and a defect label. This will help them know what products can move to the next level and what needs to be corrected first.
If you have a customizable inspection system, then you can fit it with an inspection baseline. Every product that passes the baseline will be moved to the next level, and those that fall short will be flagged.
3. Train Operators
While the inspection process can be repetitive and operators can master the basics, it’s still possible to forget the principle. Additionally, there can be cases where you change your inspection system when pursuing higher quality or if you have to be compliant with new standards. Your operators should then adjust to suit the new requirements.
Therefore, you should train them every time you change the system. Test them with a series of principles you expect to see from the new automation system.
4. Control Material Movements
Your automated quality systems should have interlocks enacted to prevent the movement of products until the necessary actions are taken or inspection is passed. In some inspections systems, a contaminant can be identified, but it may still go to the next stage because of the fast process and the number of products.
Your automation system should be able to identify the products that have defects and remove them from the production line. If a product passes one stage and develops a defect before the next stage, it should also be flagged and removed. This will maximize the efficiency of the inspection as no defect will be missed at any stage.
5. Monitor and Redesign
Over time, your system may develop calibration problems and defects, and it may flag products that are okay. It could also fail to identify defective products and let them move to the next stage. Such misses could mean you spend more resources correcting products with no problem or releasing defective products to your consumers.
Because this is a concern for your finances and reputation, always inspect flagged products for any misses. If you notice any misses, test the system using predetermined products that have contaminants and those that don’t. This will enable you to identify where the problem is, so you can redesign, recalibrate, or change the system entirely.
6. Use Data-Driven Inspection
Machines become better in decision-making as more data is fed into them. The same is true for inspection systems. More data about products records, previous defects, and other anomalies will help your system learn to perform more quality checks on products. Machine learning will efficiently help the inspection system detect anomalies, parts, quality, and quantity as they are exposed to more products.
Ensure that the system records data every time it carries out an inspection. Over time, the system will use the data collected to improve inspections with limited human intervention.
7. Proper Instrumentation
Sometimes manufacturers can lack the proper instrumentation to achieve the level of accuracy that they desire. For example, only inspecting the finished products means missing substandard components that have entered the production line through the raw materials.
Therefore, manufacturers should have proper instruments at different stages of production. For instance, you may need an X-ray inspection to identify bugs or hair strands on the raw materials. A combination of different inspection instruments may achieve better results.
An automated inspection system will achieve better efficiency than manual inspections. However, you’ll need to observe certain practices to get the best out of it and ensure your products only leave the factory after it passes all the required inspection standards. The tips discussed in this article are great ways to maximize automated product inspection.