As part of Solutions Review’s Expert Insights Series—a collection of contributed articles written by industry experts in enterprise software categories—Sunil Kardam, the SBU Head of Logistics & Supply Chain at Gramener, explains how computer vision technology can improve a company’s manufacturing processes.
In the manufacturing world, companies constantly strive to produce higher returns on capital, which makes maximizing productivity and improving efficiency more crucial than ever. The heart of the matter is that complexity of heavy machinery, and surging demand might throw a spanner in the works. Therefore, numerous manufacturers are turning to innovative solutions such as computer vision to stay ahead of the curve, gain a competitive edge in a fast-paced environment, and future-proof their businesses.
Simply put, a computer vision system is like an incredibly fast pair of eyes that can identify objects, detect motion, and interpret information from videos, images, and other visual inputs. Although this technology has been around for years, thanks to recent advancements in the field, its accuracy has gone from 50 percent to 99 percent in less than a decade.
Computer vision has the potential to help companies improve the manufacturing process in various ways, whether it is dealing with faulty machines or ensuring product quality. Even though only 10 percent of organizations currently leverage this innovative technology to improve business operations, we are witnessing more manufacturing players employ this solution.
Let’s take a closer look at three ways computer vision can enable organizations to optimize manufacturing processes.
Say Goodbye to Unplanned Downtime
Unplanned downtime can be a major headache for manufacturers, with severe consequences ranging from reduced productivity and unhappy customers to significant loss of revenue. According to studies, this problem costs industrial manufacturers a staggering $50 billion yearly.
By implementing a computer vision system, including image segmentation and pattern detection, manufacturing companies can detect equipment issues before they escalate into major problems and keep heavy machinery running without glitches. Here’s how.
A computer vision solution monitors the machinery’s condition and provides valuable insights into which parts are deteriorating the fastest. When maintenance is required, engineering teams receive real-time alerts, analysis reports, and actionable tips on their smartphones and other connected devices. Gaining valuable insights into the conditions of machines allows manufacturers to schedule repairs proactively and avoid unexpected downtimes that can disrupt their operations and negatively impact their bottom line.
Ensure Your Products Are Up to Standards
The manufacturing world has many federal regulatory restrictions, making it one of the most highly regulated industries. Therefore, ensuring that products meet requirements and are defect-free is non-negotiable and can prevent companies from facing expensive fines.
In contrast to manual inspection, computer vision can provide faster, more accurate, and more consistent reports on product quality. First, cameras set up in assembly lines can seamlessly capture photos and videos of products from multiple angles and upload them to a server. Then, a computer vision system starts detecting anomalies and defects while deciding if a specific component is absent or present by analyzing this visual information and comparing it to pre-existing datasets.
As computer vision solutions use deep learning, the more data and feedback they receive, the better they get at assisting manufacturing companies in classifying defects and ensuring product quality.
Create a Safe and Secure Work Environment
Due to heavy machinery, high noise levels, and harmful chemicals involved in the process, working in the manufacturing industry comes with numerous risks. There are around 340 million occupational accidents worldwide, and manufacturing and construction employees endure the highest workplace injuries. That’s why providing a safe work environment is not open to debate.
With a computer vision system, manufacturing companies can promptly detect potential hazards such as overcrowding on scaffolding, falling objects, and entry into exclusion zones. A computer vision solution can also monitor employees lifting equipment and alert them if they are walking by or standing under/near a suspended load, reducing the risk of serious injury.
Additionally, computer vision in manufacturing can monitor if all workers are wearing the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE), such as hearing devices, hard hats, gloves, full body suits, and safety glasses. The system will flag concerns automatically so that line managers can take necessary actions. Bear in mind that the proper use of PPE can prevent 37.6 percent of occupational injuries and the spread of diseases, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
The bottom line is that the manufacturing industry is becoming more competitive, and manufacturing companies are constantly under pressure to perform better than their competitors. And cutting-edge computer vision technology can help them gain valuable insight into their operations, optimize the manufacturing processes, build a safer environment for employees, and have a thriving business.