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Innerspec Shows EMAT and Vision AI for Manufacturing Inspection
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By: Innerspec Technologies Europe, S.L.
Innerspec Technologies Europe, based in Madrid, has developed a new inspection method which detects potential defects during car manufacturing. This method, based on Non-Destructive Testing, combines two technologies: EMAT ultrasound and artificial vision. This combination makes possible to identify 100% of the defects arisen during the welding process of the parts. This technology enables safer cars as well as reduces manufacturing costs and minimizes the environmental impact.

The automotive industry looks for achieving safer cars, as well reducing manufacturing costs and the environmental footprint. To make it possible, the Spanish company Innerspec Technologies Europe, has developed a new generation of inspection systems that will be introduced in the production line worldwide.
The structural parts responsible for vehicle’s safety are called Tailor Welded Blanks (TWBs). Their use is considered as one of the most effective ways to reduce cars’ weight. This production method allows to reduce up to 65kg per vehicle. This reduction implies the reduction of the combustible consume, and therefore the level of CO2 emissions (6.5g/km).

Due to these benefits, around 200 and 250 million of TWBs are manufactured every year, which involves the consume of 300,000 tons of material. Nowadays, more than 9,000 tons of wasted material are rejected per year because of quality failures during production.

During the TWBs manufacturing, the welding process represents a critical step, because some production faults are imperceptible to human eye as well as for most Non-Destructive Testing techniques available so far. The presence of these defects involves these parts’ breakage during the manufacturing process, or if the worst comes to the worst, during its in-service life.

This new technology, called OPTIBLANKS, has been validated by Innerspec for the last couple of years, after having been awarded by the European Union as one of the best innovative business project through the programme SME Instrument Phase 2. This Instrument has allowed Innerspec to develop this new solution for the automotive industry, which is already supporting customers to detect all the manufacturing defects at the same time to optimize the production process and to reduce the TWBs’ rejection rate very close to zero.

OPTIBLANKS’ main innovation is the combination of two technologies (EMAT and artificial vision) for TWBs weld quality control. This hybrid method adds more intelligence to the final system, which allows to take stronger decisions as well as to optimize the manufacturing process and the quality of the final product.

After several years of development and extensive testing at Innerspec’s facilities using parts produced by many European manufacturers, OPTIBLANKS has taken the leap to the production lines of TWBs, where the system has been finally integrated and validated. This validation has been held at the facilities of the global leader in automotive parts manufacturing, having the biggest TWBs production as well as the latest TWBs production lines throughout Europe.

During the validation tests more than 300 samples suspected of showing defects were inspected. 66% of these 300 samples were rejected by both technologies for the same reason. Nevertheless, there have been cases where one technique detected defects that the other technique was not able to detect.

After these validation tests, Innerspec concluded that EMAT technology is the best option to ensure the structural strength as well as the lack of defects inside the weld seam. On the other hand, the complementarity between EMAT and visual inspection improves the response in cosmetic flaws, which are also penalized by the automotive European standards. Thus, this new solution ensures the quality of the 100% of the TWBs production.

Innerspec Technologies, which holds more than 50 registered patents and an R&D dedicated team, develops unique solutions for components inspection for the largest industry sectors, including: metallurgy, automotive, aerospace, oil & gas, shipbuilding and nuclear industries.