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Integrating vision into a manual assembly process

octobre 2019

Clear Vision Systems (CVS), manufactured by Kautex Textron CVS Ltd are designed to keep vehicle headlamps or the cameras and sensors used in Advanced Driver Assistance Systems clean from dirt, dust, frost, snow, and pollution. They are manufactured at Kautex plants in the UK, USA, China and the Czech Republic. Specialist water tubing assemblies used in these systems are constructed completely by hand.

At the UK plant based in South Wales, around 200 different variants are manufactured with some 12,000,000 tubing assemblies produced each year. They comprise numerous components, including the tubing, nozzle, clips, coloured tapes, foam pads, t-pieces etc.

Example water tube assembly showing nozzles, clips, and coloured tape.

Workbench showing the assembly fixture with tubing inserted and the operator touch screen. The camera and bar light are mounted together above the bench.

Addressing the issues

Kautex is a top 100 Tier 1 supplier to global automotive OEMs, so quality is of paramount importance. Quality defect analysis indicated that many of the defects associated with manual assembly could be identified using industrial vision. Each variant requires a dedicated manufacturing fixture which can be used on any of 80 assembly workbenches.

  • Once the tubing is locked into the fixture, operators assemble the product from printed assembly documentation which include written instructions, diagrams and pictures.
  • On completion, the assembly is visually inspected and compressed air is forced through the tube to ensure that there are no blockages.
  • When testing is passed, the completed part is released and production data is sent to the company’s OEE system.

While it was clear that adding a vision system could identify defects, the company’s Advanced Manufacturing Team realised that a much more complete solution was to fully integrate the vision system as part of the assembly process in order to:

  • Utilise the manufacturing SQL database
  • Ensure that only appropriately trained operators can work on a particular assembly
  • Ensure that the correct fixture is being used for a batch
  • Provide complete traceability for individual assemblies
  • Provide the flexibility to adapt the system for any new or modified variants
  • Reduce the amount of paperwork involved in the assembly process

This improves the efficiency of the assembly process and reduces costs associated with waste and rejected product.

The vision solution

The vision solution was developed by STEMMER IMAGING in conjunction with Envisage Systems Ltd, a systems integrator with whom they had worked closely previously and who took the lead on this project.

A 5 Mpixel Genie Nano GigE Vision colour camera equipped with a 1” format, 12 mm focal length lens is mounted above a workbench. This provides a 1.3 metre field of view.

Bar lights from Smart Vision Lights provide the illumination, overcoming any effects from ambient light coming through skylights in the assembly area.

A GEVA-300 compact vision processor, running Sherlock machine vision software provides local image evaluation before images are transferred to the central server via Ethernet. It can also accommodate additional cameras and so is upwardly scalable.

The system uses standard measurement and inspection tools from Sherlock, for identifying the presence of the correct coloured tape in the correct position, measurements on foam pads and clips etc.

The camera, vision processor and software are all Teledyne DALSA products. Envisage also designed a bespoke operator interface for the software. STEMMER IMAGING supplied all of the imaging components used as well as providing places for Kautex personnel on a training course for the Sherlock software.

Demonstration systems were also made available for proof of process through the early parts of the project. Twenty of the 80 workbenches were fitted with a vision system, all connected to the company’s central server via Ethernet.

Image from the vision system indicating a failed inspection for 2 foam pads. The red box highlights a partially assembled pad and the green box shows a correctly assembled pad.

Once assembly is complete, the operator initiates inspection. If the part passes, an image is stored and the part is released from the fixture. If it fails, the image is displayed with red boxes highlighting all incorrect areas, which can be reworked then inspected again. The part is not released until it has completely passed the inspection.

If the part cannot be reworked, a line leader can enter a code to release the part. All actions are recorded on the central server, together with every image produced during inspection, providing a full audit trail for every single part.

Teledyne DALSA Genie Nano
  • Caméra petite et robuste aux capteurs CMOS
  • Nombreuses fonctions pour plus de puissance
  • Excellent design simplifiant l’installation
Smart Vision Lights L300

Le plus long éclairage modulaire de type barlight avec une grande flexibilité dans les options d'E/S et de couleurs.


Système industriel haute-performance pour la connexion de caméras à interface GigE Vision et CameraLink. Solution rentable pour des applications à caméras multiples.

Teledyne DALSA Sherlock

Logiciel de traitement d'images puissant et flexible pour l'automatisation industrielle

Smart Vision Lights

Muskegon, United States

Smart Vision Lights est un leader dans le développement et la fabrication de systèmes d'éclairage pour la vision industrielle.


Puchheim, Germany

STEMMER IMAGING est une société active dans le domaine de la vision industrielle depuis 1987. Offrant une très large palette de produits et de services, l'entreprise est aujourd'hui un des plus grands fournisseurs de technologie de vision en Europe. En 1997, STEMMER IMAGING a présenté Common Vision Blox (CVB), une bibliothèque de programmation puissante pour le développement et la mise en œuvre de solutions de vision rapides et fiables, utilisée avec succès dans plus de 80 000 applications de part le monde.

Teledyne DALSA

Waterloo, Canada

La société canadienne Teledyne DALSA Inc., une filiale du groupe Teledyne Technologies Inc., offre dans le domaine du traitement d'images numériques un très large éventail de produits de vision industrielle. Outre les caméras linéaires, l'entreprise propose des particularités technologiques : des caméras linéaires TDI (Time Delay Integration), des caméras Multitap, haute vitesse, matricielles et à haute résolution, des cartes d’acquisition d’images PCI pour chaque type de caméra, des systèmes de traitement embarqués, des outils logiciels et des systèmes de traitement d’images intelligents IPD pour des tâches très diverses de contrôle qualité, de contrôle d’intégralité et d’erreurs.