The Next Generation of Visual Inspection Tools

The Next Generation of Visual Inspection Tools

By Scott Hicar, VP of Business Process Improvement and CIO, Benchmark Electronics Inc. [NYSE:BHE]

Scott Hicar, VP of Business Process Improvement and CIO, Benchmark Electronics Inc. [NYSE:BHE]

Machine vision has always been oriented to have the biggest use cases in the inspection and quality assessment of fault detection processes in factories. At Benchmark, we leverage cameras and automated visual inspection capabilities of machine vision to examine circuit boards and identify any discrepancies in the placement of its components. As a result, machine vision allows us to recognize the inefficiencies in our manufacturing processes and create a continuous flow of quality, thereby enhancing the value of our final product.

"Machine vision allows us to recognize the inefficiencies in our manufacturing processes and create a continuous flow of quality, thereby enhancing the value of the final product"

A Hybrid Approach to Visual Inspection

Benchmark builds electronic products and offers maintenance for customers from a wide range of industries. As a result, we follow a hybrid product development and testing approach where we produce a customized product by utilizing our generic manufacturing equipment and leverage a customer’s testing equipment to assess its quality, and vice versa. Our factories generally handle a higher number of products that are manufactured with a hybrid approach, allowing us to leverage independent software and hardware offerings to enhance our visual inspection processes. Traditionally, pure product companies set themselves on a singular and rigid direction with regard to visual inspection due to the limitations of utilizing preset software and hardware combinations. On the contrary, we expand the use of machine vision by leveraging it in our precision machining businesses for measuring tolerances and post-machining tasks. Our diverse clientele aids us in expanding the applications of machine vision by driving us to test and detect inefficiencies of a range of products tailored to the electronic, aerospace, and other industries.

Applying Machine Vision

Traditionally, every electronic circuit board (including all of its components) has to undergo a highly cumbersome and time-consuming manual visual inspection before it is approved for use in a final product. On the contrary, we combine machine vision with our extensive experience in performing circuit board visual inspection to ensure that all the components asked by our clients are efficiently incorporated into the final product. We build customized products that are designed to eliminate the inefficiencies of manual visual inspection and enhance the speed and throughput of a production line. On the other hand, machine vision is applied in precision machining to perform tolerance checks and bolster the quality of the related documentation processes.

The most important aspect of machine vision that we as an organization plan to gain is an increment of value of the overall manufacturing process by minimizing cycle time and maximizing quality. At the same time, by enhancing the quality assessment processes, we aim to deliver unmatched customer satisfaction. From an organizational standpoint, we look at machine vision as a way to design superior quality products and capitalize on the value opportunities created by automated visual inspection tools.

Better the Leader, Greater the Result

I believe that a good leader knows he has done a good job when he builds teams that can run autonomously without his support, and have ownership over their outcomes. As a CIO, I always aim to lead from the back and be in the trenches with the members of our expansive and diverse team. Additionally, I always tell my team to look for value in every investment and create revenue streams by identifying and generating better quality results. For instance, when we design a superior quality product, our clients gain the ability to perform desired functions efficiently and better mitigate their organization-specific challenges. Our team approaches every challenge from a holistic perspective and leverages its extensive subject matter expertise on a plethora of technologies to help vendors utilize the strength of their technical capabilities and technology infrastructure effectively.

As a technology leader, a CIO also has to emphasize on the significance of change management strategies around the implementation of new tech-based systems. In any case, when a new technology is deployed, firms do not realize the magnitude of workflow changes that the solution can cause. Therefore, a laser-focus on how the workforce reacts to a technology implementation is critical in creating better decisions and delivering enhanced value to customers.

The Evolving Role of a CIO

Interestingly, CIOs have to oversee all the technical aspects of the business from a managerial role instead of taking point in a hands-on way even though they have better training in being the latter. For me, the role of CIO entails demystifying technology and enhancing the achievement of business outcomes through the deployed tech-based systems. From a customer standpoint, CIOs are consultants that help clients seamlessly implement and manage their technology assets and deliver the envisioned business outcomes.

As CIOs continue evolving to improve operational efficiencies, create additional revenue streams, and make data-driven decisions, it is imperative that they do not lose focus on the technology impact on their overall business.

Check out: The Manufacturing Outlook

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