Which is best: manual or automated QC?
Cost pressures to produce top quality goods at ever-lower prices – while protecting your profit margin – is a balance nearly every Australian manufacturer practises every day. Here’s what can help.
Strong manufacturing and processing competition, both domestically and from overseas, leaves no leeway for product error. Retailers and end consumers both seek top quality products – but don’t always want to pay top prices. That means processors and manufacturers must ensure quality, but do so in a way that still safeguards their profit margin.
In many cases today, manually inspecting goods for quality control (QC) is unrealistic.
While it’s certainly been the norm in the past, the sheer speed of modern production lines makes proper manual QC impossible. And that’s where automated product inspection systems come in to their own. Not only do automated systems achieve high QC standards, they decrease your operational expenses and can optimise plant efficiency.
If you’re thinking about automated QC, here are answers to some commonly asked questions that may help you decide.
1. Benefits: is automated better than manual inspection?
In a nutshell, yes.
- Automated systems have a high level of accuracy, and, important, repeatability.
- They can operate 24/7 without breaks.
- Automated systems are dedicated for that sole purpose, and don't need to take a break from what tends to be a repetitious, unstimulating role to ensure they are approaching it with fresh eyes. Neither do they have other tasks they need to do.
- This latter point also means a business can put its human resources in other areas that need creative thinking.
- enable to pay for themselves over time with the savings that they make
2. Can automated improve overall quality?
Again, in a nutshell, yes.
Typically, manual inspection is done by sampling, because there is no way a human can check every single product flying off the production line; yet even the sampling process can be slow, which essentially slows your production output. But probably a bigger stumbling block is the chance for human error. This is not from laziness, nor a lack of care, it’s merely a function of the fact that humans can make mistakes. And if you’re looking at 672 products coming off the line that say “LL4R”, how likely are you to see the 673rd that says “LI4R” instead? The other point here is that automated systems look at the whole run, not a few samples every 20 products or so. Because an automated system can be set up to push products that don't meets specs instantly off the line, it means no product gets through unless it meets specifications. This takes product checking from quality assurance to the superior quality control. It also means you can respond to quality issues immediately, rather than hundreds of not-up-to-scratch products needing rework and re-inspection. Essentially, it saves costs.
3. ROI in automation?
Speaking of saving costs, it’s interesting to look at what the ROI is of automated product inspection systems is. For businesses where just a single error could cause loss, the ROI of an automated system is therefore relatively quick. Some businesses may go down the path of putting on additional labour units to manually inspect products, but this doesn’t solve the very human problem of making mistakes and missing errors. One way to look at ROI is to look at the costs associated with errors:
- Lost production time (including how long it takes to fix the error)
- Lost resources in scrapped goods
- service level agreements not met
Because automated vision inspection system immediately alert you to an issue, they minimise costs, which all makes for good ROI.
Automated QC with an automated vision inspection system increases production efficiency and boosts your bottom line by saving money on scrapped resources – both time and materials.
To talk about how an automated vision inspection system can help your business or what the ROI might be for your application, please get in touch with the iQVision team. You can contact us via email or call 1300 IQVISION (1300 478 474). We have years of experience customising applications from the simple to the complex.
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