Half way through the assembly of your new furniture, you can’t find the next part. You realize that the part is missing and was not delivered in the box, and thus you cannot finalize and start using your furniture. Situations like this are a real headache for customers and manufacturers alike. So to ensure product quality and customer satisfaction, it is absolutely essential to have end-of-line monitoring processes in place such as a thorough check on whether packages contain everything that they’re supposed to. The ConVer system from SICK allows you to optimize these checks to suit your needs, making expensive complaints for incomplete products a thing of the past.
Errors and mistakes are an inevitable part of manual packing processes, which is why downstream completeness checks are absolutely essential. To have these quality control processes carried out by staff is both expensive and time-consuming, not to mention the fact that the results are rarely consistent. But help is at hand with the turnkey ConVer quality control system from SICK. This fully automated solution checks whether boxes or containers have been filled correctly and with all the required contents.
Checking contents with 3D image processing
The ConVer system comprises a scalable number of verification stations that can be positioned along a belt wherever they are required. Each station is fitted with a high-performance 3D Ranger E camera and a laser ramp with six class 2M lasers. The lasers are generating a powerful but still eye-safe 1m wide laser line, which the camera uses to record 3D information about the objects passing through. This information is then compared in real time with reference images that have been taught-in previously. If any discrepancies are detected, the system automatically stops the conveyor. The signal lamps and the result information on the monitors will then guide the operators how to immediately correct the packaging mistake.
ConVer is particularly well suited to companies that offer a wide range of different products of small or big batches, as it takes a matter of seconds to change products. Hardly surprising then that one of the largest furniture manufacturer in the world is now relying on this complete solution from SICK
The process of packaging items of furniture is complex and frequently results in mistakes, with boxes filled either manually or semi-automatically using robots. There is also a wide range of products to process and each one of these can include various different elements such as panels, screws, and hinges. However, products are frequently made up of relatively similar components, with the only difference between them to be found in a detail such as a single borehole. This explains why components may easily be forgotten or mixed up during the packaging process.
It is a similar story for many applications in the consumer goods industries, which require components to be stacked precisely on top of each other (e.g. tool sets, car track sets, biscuit sets). This means that the components not only have to be physically available, but also in the correct position within the box/container. If this is not the case, then production bottlenecks and delays can arise further down the line.
Process-optimized quality control
To teach-in reference images for the thorough checking process, the object is transported once through all stations during packing while the system is in teach mode. The operator can use the monitor at the appropriate monitoring station to access verification tools and set characteristic features such as edges, grooves, or boreholes, which can then be positioned on top of the taught-in images using the drag-and-drop feature. In this way, ConVer does not check that the image matches up exactly, but rather tries to identify these particular characteristics in a specific region – regardless of the color or pattern of the object.
The operator can store verification tool settings as a template so that they can be accessed and reused at any time. This speeds up the process of changing products and batches significantly, as new products can be selected in a second. The intuitive configuration means that the system can even be operated by those with no previous experience of working with sensors.
When it comes to state-of-the-art industrial image processing systems, ConVer meets all expectations. Its rugged industrial design means that the system even runs reliably in harsh environments. The system components are carefully attuned to one another, and supplied by SICK as a complete calibrated turnkey set.
Moreover, the measurement data and images recorded by the system are not only used to correct packaging errors. Now the results can also be used in subsequent systematic evaluations to identify any errors in the upstream production process that would otherwise remain undetected. And this is precisely how ConVer makes an active contribution when it comes to optimizing processes.