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On-line process & quality optimisation for the manufacturing of cast metallic parts (QUME)

Exploitable results

The results of the evaluations of the three individual techniques (X-ray Radioscopy, X-ray Attenuation and Vibration Analysis) are submitted to the fusion routine of INSA and the final fusion result is presented on the monitoring screen, together with an indication of the main types of defects found on the specimen examined. Merging these results with the list of documented solutions for the best known defects, it is possible to return information (feed back) to the initial process of manufacture and thus control or alter this process automatically. Intermediate and final results are also written to the database, and can be used later for statistical analyses and reports or any other analysis needed.
The possibility to implement the production plant with a QNDC-based intelligent manufacturing system will allow a series of advantages that can be summarised as follows: - scraps rate reduction, thanks to the correlation of the defect with the process parameters and to the defect individuation during production (on-line system): - increase in the probability to detect the defects, thanks to the combination of different techniques reducing the risk of failure in the cast products; - reduction of the inspection costs: quality control will be carried out on-line, making the stocking area for the part to be controlled redundant, reducing the handling operation and minimising the need of human inspection; - increase of customer confidence in the process control capability and in the defect detection possibilities: Stampal has many contracts with important car manufacturers, interested in the new technologies for the production of structural and safety components (for example suspension components) and quality assessment of the parts is always an important concern. The QUME system is a marketable prototype system that needs further improvements, particularly concerning robustness and modularisation. In its present state, it can be used as a demonstrator that requires some efforts for commercialisation. It is most likely to be of commercial affinity relative to the X-ray inspection technology, although lacking the overall control functionality (software, database etc).
The main task was to design and develop a software package for online non-destructive inspection and quality control of products or components in industrial production line. This package comprises different sections addressing each test function and NDE technique employed viz. workstation control, X-ray radioscopy, image processing, X-ray attenuation, vibration analysis and data fusion. The basic structure and approach developed can in future be extended to include other techniques as well (e.g. ultrasonic, magnetic techniques), which will broaden the scope of this application. The implementation of a QNDC-based intelligent manufacturing system in a production plant will allow for a series of advantages, including a reduced scrap rate, an increased probability of detection of defects a reduction of the inspection costs and an increase in customer confidence in the process control capability and in the defect detection possibilities. The software establishes the interfaces between the raw data collected from the workstation and the database, and submits these to the routines of INSA for the image processing and initial gathering of processed data. All intermediate findings are also stored in the database for later reporting, or pattern development recognition. The prototype also presents an ongoing status of the inspection, with the continuous update of results, findings and evaluations of the images.

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