Coherix Develops Breakthrough 3D Automotive Quality-Control Systems
- Adaptive process control with 3D vision for dispensing automotive adhesives on manufacturing lines leads to major quality improvements and cost savings
ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Smart manufacturing, or Industry 4.0, is well underway throughout the automotive industry with an emphasis on full autonomy and artificial intelligence (AI).
A major stumbling block to further change has been the lack of manufacturing process data. Dwight Carlson, the founder and CEO of Coherix, notes that today there are a number of assembly stages or cells where full autonomy and AI cannot be deployed because of insuﬃcient data.
The application of adhesives is one manufacturing stage where process data has been missing. And as manufacturers reduce vehicle weight by replacing steel with aluminum and plastics, bonding parts and panels with adhesives has grown in importance as an assembly technique.
Adhesive dispensing is a robotic process that is increasingly being used out of necessity given that it provides a superior bond. But there’s a problem. Dispensing robots have been “blind.” They only can go where they are programmed to go. They can’t see, so they can’t adapt to change. When a part or panel isn’t properly seated in a ﬁxture, the robot will dispense adhesive in the wrong place.
If a part diﬀers just slightly from design intent, the dispensing nozzle may be too close or too far away to apply adhesive. All too often, in fact, the nozzle may bump into the part itself. In short, adhesive-dispensing processes today cannot perform optimally without 3D vision to verify results and adaptive process-control technologies to automatically correct problems as they occur. The lack of process control also can be extremely costly:
- Inspection – In a typical automotive dispensing process, one out of every 500 parts are physically checked oﬄine. The quality of the other 499 is Batch control, quarantining and repairs involve signiﬁcant expense and risk. If dispensing could be brought under control with full inline veriﬁcation, a considerable amount of wasteful time and expense could be eliminated.
- Welds – Detailed studies and competitive benchmarking suggests that if adhesive dispensing were fully reliable, then many auto manufacturers could reduce body-in-white spot welds by 10 percent with high conﬁdence and by 25 percent with medium conﬁdence – a major cost savings.
Coherix has pioneered the development of 3D-vision technology that today is being used in thousands of adhesive-dispensing cells around the world, delivering 100 percent continuous monitoring of 100 percent of the critical dimensions, including height, width and bead volume; location of the bead relative to the part, and distance between the nozzle and the bead.
With 3D data available, Coherix has developed Adaptive Process Control (APC™) software for dispensing cells to control path and position, volume and ﬂow.
Autonomous control, coupled with artificial intelligence, allows for continual process improvement and significant savings. In a recent business-case analysis, Coherix found:
- Projected quality-control savings of 27 percent
- A 25 percent savings in labor and material costs, as well as in clean-up costs due to over-speciﬁed or over-sized beads
- Reduction of teardowns and scrap parts by 12 percent
- A 10 percent savings in ongoing operational costs
“The lack of suﬃcient data may be the least appreciated and most important barrier to full autonomy and AI in automotive assembly,” notes Dwight Carlson, the founder and CEO of Coherix. “We’ve breached that barrier and today are shipping 3D vision-based Adaptive Process Control systems to automotive customers around the world.”
Coherix creates adaptive process-control systems for the autonomous application of adhesives using 3D laser-based sensors that see, understand and proactively correct adhesive applications to minimize error and maximize performance.
Coherix provides high-performance solutions with low cost of ownership for large global OEMs, tier suppliers, line builders, dispensing-equipment companies and vision integrators in the automotive and electronics industries. The company’s 3D computer-vision technology provides “eyes” with depth perception for robots that allow customers to manage complex manufacturing processes. Coherix 3D™ is an industry-first inline 3D inspection system that tracks the critically important application of adhesives and sealants in automotive, battery and electronics manufacturing operations.
The company’s recently introduced Adaptive Process Control (APC™) technology proactively corrects variations on-the-fly for dispensing applications on assembly lines, reducing downtime, eliminating waste and improving quality.
Headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the company has operations in China, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Singapore and the United States. More information is available at www.coherix.com.