For conveyor manufacturers Canada and US workforce product inspection needs are affecting design decisions. These include the accommodation of easy incorporation of machine vision (MV) and computer vision (CV) to pick up the slack. This is driven by the need for higher quality, speed, and throughput in modern manufacturing and the intersection of North American workforce shortages.
Canada has a low jobless rate of 5.2 percent, making it challenging to fill manufacturing positions. The US market is predicting over 2.1 unfilled jobs by 2030, according to Deloitte. This is leading manufactures to speed up automation and other new technologies like MV/CV.
These conveyor system manufacturers are on the periphery of this technological leap in manufacturing 4.0 environments. But it is the latest design approaches for modular, low profile, indexing, and other conveyors that make MV/CV integration more workable. Using MV/CV in manufacturing environments may soon be a consideration for many manufactures. Their initial exploration starts with an understanding of machine and computer vision, and how they can benefit manufacturing environments.
Machine vision in manufacturing is essentially the use of cameras that collect real-time image data from production processes, such as products on a conveyor line. Machine vision sends image data to a programmable logic controller to provide targeted real-time inspection to make automated decisions. Computer vision sends camera image data to a server for AI-driven analysis for anomaly or process detection. These systems can support human line workers for:
- Product and process inspection
- Monitor machine and conveyor processes, and throughput speeds
- Countless other QA/QC inspection, preventive maintenance, and process evaluation capabilities
Conveyor manufacturers in Canada and the manufacturers using their conveyor systems can also implement MV- and CV-driven automated conveyor inspection preventive maintenance. This serves as part of conveyor inspections that increase conveyor uptime and life cycles. MV/CV can affect anything from QC and QA to waste elimination, throughput speed and worker safety and support. We can see its bottom line and cost savings impact across countless manufacturing sectors, like:
- Food and beverage inspection of products and packaging for quality and safety in both hot and cold production environments to support the food conveyor’s changing role in this sector
- Pharmaceutical production tablet counting before packaging, 360-degree bottle inspection along with cap, seal, and label inspections for regulatory adherence
- Ecommerce product and packaging inspections for quality and throughput per hour
- Identifying defective products in packages based on color, shape, and size, with the system signaling to reject it at the last stage of packaging
Image processing and machine learning algorithm can detect specific anomalies and virtually eliminate product defects. This supports human line production and inspection. MV/CV systems can also provide a wealth of support to WMS, WCS, and WES systems in manufacturing. They can work collaboratively to increase overall process, production, and warehouse control vital in just-in-time manufacturing.
Just as conveyor systems in Canada and the US play an integral part in production speed, quality, and throughput, MV/CV is the next step to increasing those benchmarks. Conveyor designs give manufacturers a tool compatible with the conveyor system to:
- Collect better, more actionable data
- Empower operators
- Increase efficiency and uptime support by engineers
Computer vision can provide support to manufacturers when workforce demands are high. But it works best to support a more effective workforce. The goal is always to grow manufacturing output potential and quality while enabling humans to focus on bigger jobs.
Conveyor system manufactures are also seeing a rising demand for smart conveyor systems such as those capable of offering product traceability features. This could point to a future where designs of conveyor systems in Canada fully incorporate MV/CV systems as part of custom conveyor designs for manufacturers.
To learn more about how automation and conveyor design can support modern manufacturing environments, start at the Conovey Home Page.