Master Metal Parts Production: Machine Vision for Unbeatable Quality in Every Piece!

Master Metal Parts Production: Machine Vision for Unbeatable Quality in Every Piece!

Our customer, a company active in the metal processing industry and specialized in mass production of mechanical parts, aims to triple its annual production to 1 billion produced parts within five years. Upscaling the digitization maturity of their production is the only sustainable way going forward. CTRL engineering stepped in as technology partner to help them define an innovation roadmap to realize their growth ambitions including improved quality monitoring through advanced machine vision.


Maintaining their current workforce and production flexibility is key for our customers growth. This includes both large orders and single part batch production. However, a process audit has identified obstacles that hinder their ambitions, such as low operational effectiveness of certain production stations and basic quality monitoring processes resulting in too much waste and parts rejection.
The implementation of in-line quality control to actively monitor and intervene has proven to be challenging, primarily due to the high-speed operation of the production line, which can reach rates of up to 200 parts per minute. Ensuring effective quality control within such a fast-paced environment necessitates several critical process steps to be seamlessly integrated. These include capturing images, extracting product features, conducting precise measurements for quality evaluation, and synchronizing with the machine motion software for potential removal actions. All of these operations must be completed within a tight time constraint of 300 milliseconds as we process more than 3 parts per second.


To tackle these obstacles, CTRL engineering engineered two vision measurement setups that operate simultaneously, with each setup dedicated to monitor one side of the part. The hardware configuration was meticulously designed to cover the specific requirements. It includes a telecentric lens capable of accommodating the glossy finish of the product, a monochrome camera chosen for its ability to provide optimal contrast, and carefully tailored lighting conditions. Collimated illumination was used to facilitate edge detection and minimize blur. For machine software implementation, a high-performance industrial embedded PC with multiple isolated cores dedicated to vision and machine motion control was selected. Meanwhile, a separate Windows core handles non-time-critical tasks such as image storage.
The quality control system is responsible for measuring five dimensions on each side of the object, in addition to the overall length of the part. One crucial aspect of product quality validation is the assessment of thread quality, which involves evaluating both outer and inner thread tolerances within the range of 0.1mm for product diameters ranging from 2mm to 3mm. As certain product parameters, such as pitch angle and thread phase shift, are derived from other measurements, it is essential to achieve a measurement resolution of 0.005mm or smaller to ensure accurate results.
CTRL engineering achieved deterministic timing and eliminated additional communication or latencies by directly integrating the vision software and machine control into the same real-time kernel. This seamless integration allowed the entire PLC program to execute in less than 50ms, well within the 300ms timing constraint.


Prioritizing digitalization empowers our customer to realize their ambitious goals of scaling up production to 1 billion parts annually, all while maintaining a strong emphasis on high production quality. The vision-based quality system guarantees that each part undergoes meticulous inspection, adhering to the set product specifications. By relying on CTRL engineering’s expertise in digitizing the processes, the company gains the ability for real-time intervention and continuous improvement, which aids them in meeting their production targets while simultaneously preserving flexibility and enhancing workforce efficiency..