From faster throughput to better quality, customer demands are prompting manufacturers to implement new technologies on a more frequent basis. Such is the case for the application of robots performing part testing and inspection procedures.
WHAT IS Part Testing and Inspection?
Part testing provides an objective analysis of a process or a procedure versus fixed criteria to determine if a part process can be verified. For example, manufacturers can test good parts versus bad parts, or process success can be tested versus process failure. Whether carried out to ensure the surface quality, weld integrity or part geometry on an in-house part, or if it is performed to check the caliber of parts being brought in from another part of the supply chain, it can be highly beneficial.
WHY Robotic Part Testing and Inspection?
Providing capability and consistency that humans cannot, the use of robots and their peripherals for part testing and inspection can be highly beneficial, reducing scrap, maximizing good parts and optimizing OEE. Furthermore, the utilization of robots provides greater versatility over the use of costly and inflexible coordinate measuring machines (CMMs). An abundance of robot arm lengths, payloads and other features capable of addressing the rigors and requirements of industrial environments make robotic arms an ideal choice for many applications. More specifically, robots offer:
Space-Saving Designs: the wide selection of robots available makes it easier for manufacturers to fulfill application requirements. Compact models with unique mounting options can accommodate tight floorspace layouts, and streamlined designs facilitate reaching into tight parts and spaces.
Robust Capability: easily programmable and flexible, robots can perform tests on the same part, or they can test multiple parts on the same testing bed. Plus, their high repeatability provides greater path accuracy.
Consistent Operation: as seen during the Covid-19 pandemic, there may be times when manufacturers are forced to reduce staff over safety concerns – to the point of eliminating shifts completely. Robots help alleviate costly situations like this, providing the ability to operate without human intervention throughout an entire shift or overnight.
HOW Does Robotic Part Testing and Inspection Work?
Coupled with the right robot and software, testing and inspection are often achieved with the use of:
Sensors: offering a great deal of versatility, sensors can be deployed to multiple locations on a part to take readings at optimal angles, rapidly recording details for determining part quality.
2D or 3D Vision Systems: adding vision functionality to robotic applications, feature-rich hardware/software vision solutions combine powerful vision tools and macros for quick and easy recognition of parts.
Eddy Current Testers: facilitating an electromagnetic inspection technique, eddy current testers are used to inspect for surface and subsurface defects using a non-destructive testing (NDT) method. Ideal for inspecting inaccessible or hard-to-reach surfaces or surfaces where tight defects must be identified.
Laser Scanners: providing the ability to capture a high deal of data with a single pass, laser scanners offer a high degree of measurement accuracy and speed.
Thermal Imaging Devices: enabling a safer, more efficient and reliable method for defect detection in hazardous areas, thermal imaging devices offer remote detection and localization capabilities.
Infrared Scanners: facilitating non-contact part quality feedback in real time, infrared (IR) imaging systems convert heat radiating from an object or scene into a visual image, displaying temperature variations that most always indicate poor part quality and the potential need for process adjustment.
WHERE is Robotic Part Testing and Inspection Being Used?
Used in a range of industries including automotive, aerospace, electronics and plastics, robotic part testing and inspection is becoming extremely important for fabricators looking to improve part quality and product throughput – especially when safety-critical parts are involved.
Visit us at FABTECH! In our booth #B20034, you'll see an integrated cell that shows how vision, sound and robot data work together to ensure greater weld quality — reducing scrap, maximizing good parts and optimizing overall equipment effectiveness (OEE). While you're there, talk to our in-house Yaskawa welding experts to learn more about the latest technologies that can complement your current operations.
Dean Elkins is a Segment Leader - Handling