In an effort to streamline the assembly line inspection process, and cut down on manufacturing defects, IBM has announced the release of a visual inspection system. The system was released on April 24 and is a Watson-powered Internet of Things (IoT) service. The visual recognition feature is one of the strongest for Watson and with each item inspected, the effectiveness of the system increases.
IBM discovered that inspection times can be reduced by up to 80 percent after just a period of eight days of testing a production cycle. The new system also reduced manufacturing defects by 7-10 percent. The visual inspection system is able to detect defects as small as a pinhole puncture or a scratch. The system will also ensure that the parts are in the correct locations and have the right shape and texture.
A data scientist feeds images to the machine in order to deploy it. The images help train the machine on what to look for when it comes to defects. The machine makes a declaration when it has received enough information in order to detect a defect in the product. Manufacturers could get the system running within one day.
Once the machine is active, it will alert a human employee of any possible defects it finds and provide a confidence level as to whether or not the issue is actually a defect.
The IBM Watson IoT device is able to inspect products up to five times faster than human workers and can find defects that are not visible to the naked eye. This machine will allow manufacturers to inspect every single item on the line, and not just samples, preventing entire batches from being removed from the market.
In a release, the general manager of IBM Watson IoT said, "By bringing cognition to the factory floor, IBM is helping usher in the fourth industrial revolution where entirely new levels of efficiency, flexibility and product excellence in manufacturing can become an everyday reality."
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Source: ZD Net, "IBM launches Cognitive Visual Inspection system for manufacturers," Stephanie Condon, April 24, 2017