Industry-first Imaging Technique and AI Achieve Reductions in Skill Requirements for High-precision Inspection –
OMRON Corporation based in Kyoto, Japan, announced on August 2 that it will globally launch on August 5 the PCB inspection system “VT-S10 Series,” which features an industry-first (*1) imaging technique and AI to automate the high-precision inspection process for electronic substrates, thus eliminating the need for specialist skills. As the inspection of in-vehicle electronic substrates becomes increasingly difficult with the growing need for the fifth-generation mobile communication system (5G), electric vehicles (EVs), and autonomous driving, this new offering from OMRON performs high-precision inspection of such key components to maintain and enhance their quality, thus contributing to the security and safety of society.
AI-powered PCB Inspection System VT-S10 Series: https://kyodonewsprwire.jp/img/202107278166-O1-3XrXar23
In recent years, demand for electronic substrates for 5G, EVs, and autonomous driving has grown rapidly, which in turn is raising the quality requirements of substrates since these applications involve risks to human lives. As substrates become more dense and miniaturized, inspection becomes more challenging, with the result that conventional PCB inspection systems struggle to take an accurate image of solder shapes, which limits the scope and parameters of inspection. Meanwhile, on production floors, amid the growing shortage of skilled workforce and humanpower in general, workers are required to avoid congestion and close contact and to limit their movement as they work to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It has thus become urgent to reduce the frequency of visual inspections and lower the experience and skill requirements for setting and starting up automated inspection equipment, in addition to advancing inspection accuracy.
Equipped with OMRON’s proprietary MDMC (Multi-Direction Multi-Color) imaging technique, the VT-S10 Series automatically optimizes irradiation angles, colors, and light intensity of illumination during inspection of substrates according to characteristics such as the shapes of electronic components and soldering on the substrates, thus reducing the human-hours required for setup by approximately 70%. (*2) Furthermore, with the assistance of AI that has been taught the imaging knowhow OMRON has accumulated over more than 30 years in the field of automated inspection, as well as knowledge in solder inspection, this PCB inspection system is capable of automating inspections that have hitherto had to rely on human senses, significantly improving inspection accuracy.
Under the banner of the strategic concept “innovative-Automation,” which consists of the “three i’s,” namely, “integrated (evolution in control),” “intelligent (intelligence developed through ICT),” and “interactive (new harmonization between humans and machines),” OMRON is driving innovations on the production floor. Through the integration of the widest range of control devices and the use of AI fully versed in solder inspection, the VT-S10 Series is the latest offering from OMRON that embodies the “innovative-Automation” concept. Going forward, OMRON will continue evolving production floors hand in hand with customers. By expanding the scope and parameters for automated inspection, OMRON hopes to free operators from simple, monotonous work so that they can engage in more creative work, which it believes ultimately contributes to the security and safety of society.
(*1) The first PCB inspection system to incorporate MDMC imaging technique (as of July 2021, company data)
(*2) As validated by an experiment conducted with multiple customers, in which the time for creating a program and the inspection accuracy rate were compared
1. MDMC imaging technique significantly lowers chances of erroneous decisions:
By utilizing OMRON’s proprietary MDMC illumination, the company has developed an imaging technique for high-precision inspection of ever-advancing substrates and components. Through the flexible manipulation of irradiation angles, colors, and light intensity, it has become possible to capture solder shapes more accurately than conventional imaging methods, eliminate the interference of shadows of neighboring tall components, and distinctly read patterns on substrates and prints on the surface of components.
Industry-first MDMC Illumination:
(1) 3D imaging from all angles for accurate inspection of complicated solder shapes
(2) Accentuated white lighting eliminates the influence of illegible printing to achieve accurate character inspection
2. Minimizing programming human-hours by quantitative inspection and AI-assisted qualitative inspection:
Based on the knowledge that the company has accumulated in solder shape inspection, as well as images gained through MDMC illumination, OMRON has developed AI dedicated to solder inspection. The company combined this AI-assisted inspection with quantitative inspection by MDMC to achieve reductions in both the required level of teaching skills and the chances of erroneous decisions. In a validation test with a customer, OMRON verified a reduction in visual inspection human-hours by 85%.
3. M2M system for production of defect-free products:
Linking data with production equipment from other manufacturers allows for monitoring quality trends, which prevents defects from occurring.
(1) Visualizing quality by developing a database of inspection results, including measurement values and images, from each process
(2) Improving the first pass yield rate by automatically optimizing post-print/post-placement inspection criteria based on the inspection results in the final process
(3) Linking data with other production equipment manufacturers to reduce and prevent defects
A validation test with a customer showed that, with the introduction of this M2M system, the defect ratio was reduced by more than 50% by detecting and dealing with quality variations before defects occurred.