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Role of Portable Inspection Systems in Smart Manufacturing

With all the talk of automation and the integration of measurement processes directly into production operations in this article we look at the role that manual portable inspection solutions can still play in smart manufacturing. Although they may not offer the same level of automation and connectivity as their digital counterparts and while smart manufacturing emphasizes automation, data-driven decision-making, and connectivity, there remain scenarios where manual inspection solutions are relevant and valuable.

Manual portable inspection solutions can continue to pursue a role in smart manufacturing in the following roles:

Flexibility and Adaptability: Manual inspection solutions offer flexibility and adaptability in situations where automated systems may be impractical or cost-prohibitive. They can be easily carried and used in various locations within a manufacturing facility, making them suitable for ad hoc inspections or areas where automated systems are not feasible.

Small-Scale Operations: In some cases, smaller manufacturers or those with specific production requirements may find manual portable inspection solutions more suitable for their needs. These solutions can be cost-effective alternatives, particularly when the production volume doesn’t justify significant investments in automated inspection systems.

Complex or Customized Inspections: Certain inspections may require human judgment, dexterity, or visual interpretation that automated systems cannot provide. Manual inspection solutions allow operators to assess intricate or customized aspects of the product, such as intricate geometries, surface finishes, or aesthetic qualities that cannot be easily automated.

Training and Skill Development: Manual inspection solutions can serve as valuable training tools for operators and quality control personnel. By performing inspections manually, operators can develop a deeper understanding of the product, quality requirements, and potential defects. This knowledge can be applied to improve the effectiveness of automated inspection processes and provide valuable insights for process optimization.

Complementary Role: Manual inspection solutions can complement automated systems by validating or cross-verifying the results obtained from automated inspections. Human operators can perform manual inspections as a secondary or backup process to ensure accuracy, especially when dealing with critical components or complex assemblies.

It’s important to note that while manual portable inspection solutions have their place in certain scenarios, the trend in smart manufacturing leans towards automation, integration with digital systems, and real-time data analytics. However, a combination of manual and automated inspection solutions can provide a comprehensive and flexible approach to quality control in smart manufacturing environments, catering to specific needs and requirements.

Manual 3D Scanning

Manual 3D Scanning will also continue to have a role in smart manufacturing, particularly in specific applications where automation may not be feasible or where human intervention and expertise are required.

Scenarios where manual 3D scanning can be beneficial in smart manufacturing are:

Reverse Engineering: Manual 3D scanning can be used to capture the geometries of physical objects or parts that do not have existing digital models. This data can then be used for reverse engineering, allowing manufacturers to recreate or modify the object digitally, design new parts, or integrate them into their digital manufacturing processes.

Quality Inspection and Metrology: Manual 3D scanning can be employed for precise quality inspection and metrology purposes. By scanning components or products, operators can compare the obtained 3D scan data with the original design specifications to identify deviations or defects. This helps ensure that parts meet dimensional accuracy requirements and quality standards.

Customization and Prototyping: In industries where customization and prototyping are essential, manual 3D scanning can play a vital role. Scanning physical objects or prototypes allows for capturing their intricate details, complex shapes, and organic forms, which can then be used as a reference for creating customized or improved versions digitally.

On-Site or Inaccessible Environments: In certain situations, it may not be possible to bring objects or parts to a centralized scanning facility or automated scanning system. Manual 3D scanning offers the flexibility to capture data directly on-site or in environments that are challenging to access, such as large structures, machinery, or installations. This enables manufacturers to digitize physical assets and perform inspections or analyses without the need for disassembly or transport.

Research and Development: Manual 3D scanning can be valuable in research and development efforts, especially during the early stages of product design. Scanning physical prototypes or objects allows for quick and iterative design modifications, rapid feedback, and validation of design concepts.

While automation and robotic 3D scanning systems offer higher efficiency and throughput in many manufacturing processes, manual 3D scanning continues to have a role in specific use cases. It provides the flexibility, versatility, and human judgment required for complex or unique scanning tasks. In smart manufacturing, the combination of automated and manual 3D scanning technologies can provide a comprehensive solution, ensuring optimal results for various applications and production requirements.