Production efficiency improved by beyond security applications

Production efficiency improved by beyond security applications

Production efficiency is improving organization and effectiveness in a production facility as well as saving manufacturers time wasted due to errors and money lost due to mistakes. For these reasons, automotive manufacturers are taking advantage of the beyond security applications of video surveillance cameras in their production facilities. Manufacturers are now employing their key capabilities, such as high resolution and interoperability, to help increase efficiency and decrease wastefulness.

Production Efficiency Saves Time and Money
The automotive industry has many stringent requirements when it comes to production processes. Safety must come first when it comes to parts and assembly. Therefore, it is crucial that even the slightest defects be caught before becoming part of a finished product.

Meticulous inspection of a production line, however, can be costly and time consuming, therefore efficiency is key.

The use of video surveillance cameras, for security applications, on the production line to improve efficiency is not a new concept. Nevertheless, as manufacturers become more aware of their benefits and their ability to be equally effective when it comes to improving production efficiency, more manufacturers are looking toward this solution.

Benefits of Video Surveillance Cameras
Traditionally, industrial cameras have been used in manufacturing settings for quality assurance and process control applications. Similarly, video surveillance cameras have typically been used for their video surveillance abilities — monitoring people, ensuring that there are no personnel in restricted zones, recording daily happenings, etc. “Video surveillance ensures safety rules are being followed, tools and equipment are handled properly, and that production personnel comply with defined processes at all times,” said Andrea Sorri, Business Development Director at Axis Communications. However, it has become increasingly more common for manufacturers to combine the use of industrial cameras with network surveillance cameras in manufacturing facilities — classical industrial cameras are used for inspection tasks and network surveillance cameras for process monitoring, according to Ingo Lewerendt, Strategic Business Development Manager at Basler. It is these beyond security applications of video surveillance cameras that have gotten the attention of automotive manufacturers.

Wendi Burke, Director of Marketing at IQinVision, pointed out that “cameras don't take a break, don't have bad days, don't get distracted or fall asleep, they're always on, always performing.” This makes video surveillance cameras, particularly high-resolution HD cameras, extremely beneficial to manufacturers in helping catch costly manufacturing defects and other problems before the problems are repeated.

In a similar way to how video surveillance is used in the automotive industry to enhance production efficiency, IQinVision's high-megapixel cameras have been used in the steel industry. Faults in manufacturing are costly mistakes for steel makers.

Therefore, the Ellwood Group, a US-based steel manufacturer, deployed 250 IQinVision megapixel cameras throughout their 10 manufacturing facilities to not only help with video surveillance, but also with identifying problems during production.

Convenient Integration with Network Cameras
Since a standard IP infrastructure is used in most manufacturing facilities, network surveillance cameras that are built on an open platform can be integrated into a facility's existing system. This is a big advantage of using a network surveillance camera, as pointed out by Sorri. “Network cameras can be easily integrated into industrial manufacturing environments such as production lines to automatically perform visual inspections, to monitor production line efficiency, and to enable remote assistance for maintenance.”

Additionally, network surveillance cameras can support intelligent video processing and video analytics on the edge, they can also be utilized to perform visual inspections for a specific step in a production line, alert the manufacturer to labels missing, caps not positioned correctly, or missing solder.

Another advantage of network surveillance cameras pointed out by Sorri, is that they “can be easily integrated into industrial manufacturing environments such as production lines to automatically perform visual inspections, to monitor production line efficiency, and to enable remote assistance for maintenance.

With over 12,000 employees and annual production surpassing 375,000 units in 2012, this idea of visual inspection was implemented by Axis at the SEAT factory in Martorell, Barcelona, Spain.

In 2011, the SEAT factory became the production house of the Audi Q3, the first luxury car assembled in Spain. The use of barcodes in automotive factories to keep track of parts during the production process is standard. At the SEAT factory, they wanted to take extra measures to avoid delays and facilitate workflow. As a result, over 100 Axis cameras were implemented to complement the existing barcode scanning system for a visual verification system. By taking images of the barcodes that were identified as possibly containing errors, which were then sent to an emergency data-entry computer, the system provides visual verification that serves as a backup to the scanned barcodes. With images of the barcodes, in the event of a barcode scanning error, vehicles do not have to be physically moved by operators in order to be re-scanned. Additionally, the cameras were also used to monitor the transport of car bodies throughout the facility.

Streamlining with Video Management Software
After cameras are in place, that is where video management software (VMS) comes in to help manage, access, and control the images and recordings; however, its usefulness in the automotive industry has helped to not only do the aforementioned tasks, but also streamline and improve the production process.

When Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK was looking to improve production efficiency at their facility, they sought a solution that could not only be integrated with their current set up, but also with over 300 network cameras from various manufacturers to monitor production lines and their facility. Nissan UK has always used machine vision tools, including highly specialized industrial cameras used to inspect individual processes to decide whether the correct part is in its exact location, take precise measurements, and act as “eyes” for the robots. However, these cameras do not give an overall view of a process, as they are designed to focus on one specific movement or task. In order to get a fuller picture, Nissan UK decided to deploy network cameras and Milestone's VMS.

The open nature of Milestone's VMS gave Nissan UK the freedom to view footage from cameras from different manufacturers and capture process faults with live-video monitoring and provide instant recording and playback. This helped Nissan UK prevent production issues and eliminate causes of temporary stoppage on their production lines.

Additionally, the convenience of being able to access images from the cameras via a PC, as well as the ability to compare two videos side-by-side to examine how different employees work on a process, made management of the facility easier.

The overall benefits of the VMS helped to not only improve both the quality and efficiency of Nissan UK's facility, but also gave them a system that could grow with the facility.

To Efficiency and Beyond
Efficiency in any industry is important, but in a competitive, high production industry like the automotive industry, efficiency is paramount to a facility's success. While “lean” practices help manufacturers in all industries reduce waste and boost effectiveness, the additional beyond security benefits of traditional security products, such as network surveillance cameras and VMS, have proven that the security industry is not just about catching intruders and controlling access. Offering additional benefits like production efficiency and workflow management shows that applications of the security industry are endless.

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