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Why AI Is Suited To Industrial Inspection

Nowadays there is a ton of buzz on the subject of AI for the factory. For manufacturers, this raises a lot of questions about AI and how it can impact product quality, throughput, and profitability.

“What is AI in the context of quality inspection? What are its advantages over manual inspection and existing types of automated inspection? When and why should I implement AI on my production line? Can AI really replace human inspectors with a more reliable quality control process?”

When Traditional Inspection Methods Don’t Measure Up

Manual inspection relies on the subjective skill of the human visual inspector, while traditional computer vision relies on stacking processing filters that isolate the feature of interest and apply masks or geometries to perform a quality measurement. These methods work well for fabricated or machined parts that are very consistent. Products that introduce a lot of variability into the accurate assessment of what “good” looks like, while the need to effectively grade them is critical for manufacturers to increase profitability.

Deep Learning For Industrial Applications

Deep learning has become increasingly popular in recent years due to industry and academia driving investment in GPU processing power and new AI network models.  Although AI and machine learning have been used for some time now, it is the public availability of large image datasets (such as ImageNet), affordable GPU hardware, and the open-source movement that has created a library of pre-trained network models other developers can use. This has made it possible to develop affordable AI-based solutions for a wide range of applications including industrial inspection.

The Unique Benefits of AI For Quality Inspection

Industrial quality inspection is particularly suitable for AI due to its repetitive nature and high level of predictability. This makes it possible to collect a dataset of images that can be used to train a custom neural network for classification, object, or anomaly detection.

While products that are nearly identical and need to be measured for tolerance or conformity are probably easier to solve using a stack of traditional algorithms, products that require a subjective evaluation, sometimes from an experienced visual inspector, are highly suitable for deep learning-based inspection systems.

For example, medical device inspection benefits significantly from using AI inspection to detect a variety of defects including zipper lines, dirt, and gels across a variety of medical balloon types. Addressing this type of inspection with a traditional rule-based system, including solving the edge (or corner) cases that come along with multiple defect categories and inspection targets, would make this solution incredibly complex and time-consuming to implement.

AI identifies 18 different defects including zipper lines, dirt, and gels in up to 50 different medical balloon types.

AI, on the other hand, can help determine if a solution is feasible within a matter of days and if possible provide a repeatable path to implementing a production system within weeks.

“We know AI is suitable for industrial inspection. But is AI right for YOUR specific application? This can be a very difficult question to answer.”

To help you get the answers you need, industrial machine vision company LMI are offering to conduct a thorough evaluation of AI for your production operation. If together they discover AI is not a good fit a company can walk away with a deeper understanding of their manufacturing needs.

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