At automotive parts manufacturing sites, inspections are carried out in a variety of ways, including visual inspections. However, in response to the recent increase in quality requirements, an increasing number of companies are reviewing their existing inspection methods.

In this article, we will explain the inspection method of automobile parts again, and then introduce points and examples of inspection.

1. What is automotive parts inspection?

First of all, I will explain again the importance of inspection in automobile parts and what kind of inspection methods are available.

(1) Importance of automotive parts inspection

Automobiles are representative products of the manufacturing industry, and it is said that there are about 30,000 component parts. It is said that the number of parts will be reduced to about 20,000 due to the transition from gasoline cars to EV vehicles, but it is still a product composed of a huge number of parts.

Automotive parts inspection is an important part of protecting the safety of people in and around them, and auto parts manufacturers must ensure the quality of parts through rigorous inspections. In recent years, quality requirements from end users and automobile manufacturers have been increasing, and total inspections are becoming commonplace. It can be said that automotive parts manufacturers should reconsider their inspection methods.

(2) Inspection method of automobile parts

There are several types of inspection methods for automotive parts. The following is a summary of the features of each.

① Visual inspection

Visual visual inspection is still common in the inspection of automotive parts. The content is that the inspector checks the parts visually and palpation for scratches and defects.

The advantages of visual inspection include the ability to reduce initial costs without the need for special equipment, the ability to move parts freely for inspection, and the ability to flexibly change the inspection content.

On the other hand, there are disadvantages such as the inability to make objective judgments and the tendency for human variation to occur, the possibility of missing scratches and defects due to mistakes, and the time required for inspection. In recent years, an increasing number of companies are working on the automation of visual inspections with the aim of improving inspection quality and solving labor shortages.

② Visual inspection with a measuring instrument

The mainstream inspection of automobile parts is visual inspection using various measuring instruments. Using measuring instruments, we check whether the dimensions and shape of parts are finished according to standards, and check for scratches and defects.

The advantages of visual inspection using measuring instruments include the ability to automate and speed up inspections, and the ability to make objective judgments based on numerical values. When inspecting products that require high quality, such as automobile parts, visual inspection with a measuring instrument is preferable to visual inspection.

On the other hand, there are disadvantages such as difficulty in responding to unexpected problems and the cost of introducing and maintaining measuring instruments.

③ Performance inspection

Depending on the type of automobile part, not only the appearance inspection but also the performance inspection may be required. For example, structural parts are inspected for their durability and durability, such as fatigue strength, heat resistance, and corrosion resistance. In addition, with the computerization of automobiles, there are more opportunities to evaluate the electrical characteristics of electronic components and conduct continuity inspections.

Performance inspections are often carried out by sampling process, but there are an increasing number of cases where full inspections are required for performance inspections of electronic components. In the future, performance inspections by automobile parts manufacturers may become more common.

2. Points to improve the efficiency of automotive parts inspection

Here are two key points to improve the efficiency of automotive parts inspection.

(1) Automate inspection inline

At automobile parts manufacturing sites, which require mass production and high-quality manufacturing, there is a limit to visual inspection by human hands. In order to improve productivity and quality, measuring instruments should be integrated into the production line and inspection should be automated in-line.

Benefits of inline inspection include:

  • Faster inspection speed and increased productivity
  • Quality assurance can be performed by total inspection.
  • No labor costs and reduced human error and variability
  • Immediately identify abnormalities in the production line and improve them

(2) Analyze and make improvements based on data

In order to improve the quality of manufacturing, we must switch from testing based on human senses to testing based on numerical values and other data.

Conducting inspections based on data not only unifies the criteria for pass/fail judgment, but also makes it possible to grasp and predict defect trends from the transition of data. If you make improvements based on this information, you will be able to prevent problems from occurring and eliminate waste in the production line.

3. Examples of automotive parts inspection

How do auto parts manufacturers actually conduct inspections? Here are some examples of automotive vehicle inspections.

(1) Automation of visual inspection using measuring instruments

Measuring instruments equipped with high-precision cameras can automatically measure the presence or absence of scratches on automotive parts. Depending on the measuring instrument, the depth of the wound can also be measured in combination with laser inspection, and a pass/fail judgment can be made based on quantitative measurement results.

(2) Automation of assembly and inspection by robot

As mentioned above, in-line is important for improving the efficiency of automotive vehicle inspection. As shown in this video, if bulk picking, assembly, and inspection can be completed on one production line, quality assurance through total inspection can be performed while increasing productivity.

(3) Visual inspection of complex shapes by robots

For the inspection of automobile parts with complex shapes, the use of articulated robots is effective. Various sensors are mounted at the tip of the robot arm, and by moving the arm freely, it is possible to check for defects at multiple inspection points at once. Parts with complex 3D shapes cannot be completely confirmed by inspection from one direction, and it may be necessary to inspect them in multiple parts. However, if the robot can move freely, it is efficient because it can be inspected all at once in one process.