The Osiswitch Compact line at Télémécanique, a Schneider Electric brand, makes circuit breakers. This production line allows the possibility of creating up to 2,000 different product types from just 100 different components. Each circuit breaker is manually assembled meaning a 100 percent reliable inspection of the individual components is essential in order to verify each breaker before packaging.

When considering the sheer variety of the product types, it became clear very quickly that a mechanical system would not be up to the inspection job at hand. Vision technology was clearly going to be the only solution.

A demanding application requires a trustworthy solution
Global presence and high quality technology were the decisive criteria for Schneider Electric when it came to selecting a vision supplier. Cognex and its partner integrator Esox did a feasibility study and proposed an inspection solution that responded to the demands of the application. An application that was particularly challenging considering the extent of the elements to be inspected.

Investment in vision makes the difference
“At Schneider Electric, we give great importance to product quality and we invest in this at all levels of production, explains Nicholas Charollais, marketing manager for Schneider. “Our biggest risk as regards quality control being an unsatisfactory order, we need an inspection solution capable of verifying that each product packaged matches the right product reference. Fully automating the inspection line was therefore essential.”

The vision system allows complete assembly inspection of each component of the different products by analysing the product references. This analysis depends on the vision platform developed by Esox using VisionPro from Cognex which allows a “multi display” of images.

The vision station is made up of two cameras and five LED light sources plus a laser beam. The first high-resolution camera (1,600 x 1,200 pixels) inspects the underneath part of the piece and checks the code inscribed on the contacts; the second camera performs the inspection of the upper part of the piece. The acquired images are recorded in the inspection data base. Considering the extent to which the specifics can vary, putting in place a correct lighting system represented a serious challenge. Esox conceived an optical system with a software tool programmed to operate according to exposure times. This system allows the lighting to be adapted according to the product reference, so several lighting variations could be called upon in sequence depending on the product family.

Depending on the complexity of the ongoing product inspection, the system displays one or more images for each product component. Up to 12 images can appear in such a way in the form of frames, the system having acquired each of them by using the most appropriate lighting. Each image is then processed by the software and the results of the inspection appears on each of these frames as labeled red or green allowing the operator to visualize any problems rapidly.

Tests were completed in France in record time. The first installation of the system was carried out on one of Schneider’s Spanish production sites. 2 weeks were enough to confirm the capabilities and the sturdiness of the Cognex system. The production line was then transferred to the Batam site in Indonesia.

Keep production lines at home ... even when abroad
Thanks to remote maintenance, Schneider’s French sites are today in a position to monitor Indonesian production. From their French sites, Schneider Electric can keep an eye on images of faulty components in Indonesia, as well as control the inspection parameters or make modifications to programming.

Quality control and traceability in one solution
Thanks to archiving of all statistics by the system, it is possible to monitor and confirm all non conforming defects identifying any false rejects if necessary. This kind of control also means total traceability of inspected production. This is a strategic element for Schneider Electric in their quality assurance outlook. Today Schneider intends to build upon their success and install the same application on their Limoges site. This will be done by June, less than four months after the application was set up in Indonesia.

About Cognex
Cognex Corporation designs, develops, manufactures, and markets machine vision sensors and systems, or devices that can "see." Cognex vision sensors are used in factories around the world to automate the manufacture of a wide range of items and to assure their quality. Cognex is the world's leader in the machine vision industry, having shipped more than 450,000 machine vision systems, representing over $2.5 billion in cumulative revenue, since the company's founding in 1981. In addition to its corporate headquarters in Natick, Massachusetts, Cognex also has regional offices and distributors located throughout North America, Japan, Europe, Asia, and Latin America.