Five Things Machine Builders and OEMs Should Look for in a Machine Vision Partner
In today's fast-paced manufacturing environment, machine vision is critical to ensuring product quality, optimizing production efficiency, and reducing costs. Machine builders can often incorporate machine vision into their packaging machinery to provide in-line inspection, alignment, gauging, robotic guidance, or identification capabilities. By enabling machines to see like humans, OEMs, and machine builders develop more innovative, reliable, and efficient machines that meet customer needs and exceed industry standards. So, in this blog post, we'll explore five areas that machine builders and OEMs should consider when selecting a machine vision partner.
Proven Machine Vision Industry Expertise
As an OEM, you strive to work with trusted machine vision technology suppliers that deeply understand your market, have experience with today's applications, and have an eye toward the future. It pays to work with a partner that brings a wealth of industry knowledge based on decades of experience working with customers and partners in the packaging industry. It pays to work with a machine vision provider, an industry leader whose largest customers are leading brands in the consumer products, food and beverage, medical device, pharmaceutical, and tobacco industries.
You want a partner who is well versed in the various regulations that impact many of the submarkets of packaging, such as 21 CFR Part 11 for pharmaceutical manufacturers, MDR and UDI coding requirements for medical device providers, UFI codes on hazardous materials, and labeling requirements for food and beverage companies.
Working with a machine vision company that understands that each partner offers unique value to the industries they serve is essential. They take the time to listen and understand their partner's specific needs and situations and can provide tailored solutions optimized for their unique requirements. Look to partner with an organization that believes that by treating their partners as unique and valued, they can build solid and lasting relationships based on trust and mutual success.
Seek a machine vision technology partner who works with you to define the best strategy to incorporate the right vision technology into your machinery and budget. A robust machine vision partner will work with you to deliver a tailored solution that fulfills your requirements and those of your customers.
Commitment to Innovation for Enhanced Product Quality, Efficiency, and Technological Advancement
As technology continues to advance and the manufacturing environment becomes increasingly digital, it is essential to work with a machine vision technology partner that strives to deliver innovative products and technology that helps OEM partners provide leading solutions that help their customers improve final product quality, increase efficiency, and enable a technology path from today to tomorrow.
Significant R&D Investment
One way to gauge a machine vision provider's commitment to innovation is to understand how much of their annual revenue is applied toward Research and Development. A 10- to 15% investment is considered a firm commitment. Patents are another way to measure commitment to innovation. A machine vision provider with over 1,000 patents over their lifetime is deeply committed to delivering innovative technology year after year.
Industry 4.0-ready products
Intelligent machine vision solutions generate enormous amounts of digital data, and more manufacturers are exploring ways to leverage this goldmine of information to optimize their production processes. Working with a machine vision partner that understands the value of the smart factory will help you deliver complete Industry 4.0-ready solutions to your customers. Machine builders and customers can harness this big data to make critical business decisions to improve quality, optimize labor allocation, reduce scrap, and improve overall equipment effectiveness (OEE).
Artificial intelligence is arguably the most exciting development in machine vision in the last 20 years and is expanding the boundaries of what machine vision can do. To capitalize on this trend, look for machine vision providers that deliver innovative AI-based solutions that help machine builders achieve increased throughput requirements without sacrificing product quality. AI-based technology combines the flexibility of human inspection with the reliability and speed of a computer to solve a range of manufacturing applications quickly and consistently.
Through intuitive, example-based training, AI-based technologies, like edge learning and deep learning, make it easy to automate tasks such as part location, inspection, classification, and character reading. These compelling technologies can discern subtle differences to distinguish functional defects from cosmetic anomalies. Both the functionality and ease of use of these AI-powered technologies allow manufacturers to automate tasks that were previously done manually and those that were too complicated and time-consuming to program with traditional rule-based machine vision.
Incorporating machine vision solutions into OEM machinery is based on solid integration, from connecting to PLC controllers to supporting network communication. Work with a machine vision provider that supports standard industrial and networking communication protocols, including a wide range of digital I/O and industrial communication options that make it possible for the system to communicate and integrate with automation devices such as programmable automation controllers, programmable logic controllers, human-machine interfaces, sensors, and actuators. Inspection data from vision systems can be securely exported in standard formats for local or cloud-based analytics.
Device Management and Data Collection Platform
Machine vision tools and barcode reading systems produce a lot of rich data across manufacturing and logistics facilities. Efficient data collection and analysis from highly interconnected devices form the backbone of Industry 4.0 and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) initiatives. Consider a machine vision provider that offers a platform that collects and transforms big data into smart data and provides real-time system performance monitoring and device management to improve overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) and throughput. This platform would enable you to configure devices, collect data in minutes, collect performance data, analyze trends, and monitor configuration changes, allowing the operators to take swift action to address issues before they cause costly problems downstream.
Global Service and Support
From development to deployment, working with a trusted partner is best to help you get your vision systems up and running as fast as possible. Machine builders should partner with a machine vision provider committed to ensuring your success. Many machine builders provide solutions on a global level to support their customers' worldwide automation initiatives. Work with a machine vision provider with a global reach that delivers local support to ensure the greatest breadth and depth of assistance globally. In addition to
Customer Service and Support: While it is essential to work side by side with machine vision experts during a machine design cycle, it is also just as important that you work with a technology partner that provides worldwide on-site and on-demand training opportunities to help your staff become proficient in the machine vision technology that you incorporate into your machine. Your machine vision provider should understand the significant capital investments that your customers make in your packaging machinery and the expectation that these machines are designed to last several years to decades. Machine utilization in this timeframe can supersede the lifecycles of embedded technologies, such as machine vision systems. Ensure your machine vision technology partner provides long-term support for its products and will work closely with you on planning retrofits to ensure a smooth transition path to take advantage of new technology.
Leading OEMs deliver the highest level of automated quality control and traceability for their customers' applications by partnering with machine vision providers that offer innovative machine vision technologies. They value a trusted partnership that includes industry expertise, innovative technology, ease of integration, global service and support, and a common data collection platform that provides the basis for translating analytical insights into performance optimization.