Konica Minolta launches Visual Quality Inspection

| 1 November 2021

Based on AI and IoT, the system automatically detects defects and anomalies to improve quality assurance

Quality control is an expensive and time-consuming task that requires several hours of continuous checks by human inspectors — especially in manufacturing operations, logistics and warehouses. Moreover, the increasing complexity of production pipelines sometimes makes it impossible for manual inspections to provide the required level of accuracy. It is for precisely these reasons that Konica Minolta is launching Visual Quality Inspection, which combines Konica Minolta's AI-based technology with intelligent camera solutions. The inspection system is designed to significantly improve the production process in terms of both safety and efficiency. It can be applied in a wide range of industries.


Detecting defects in manufacturing operations, logistics and warehouses can be a lengthy process. Manual inspection is usually based on human judgement, but can lead to inaccurate results due to various factors such as eyesight, experience, fatigue etc. However, accuracy in quality inspection is required for a more cost-effective production line and to prevent the loss of expensive equipment and materials, rework and, in the worst-case scenario, even injury or death.
 
Konica Minolta has therefore combined its long-standing expertise in imaging technologies with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to develop its unique Visual Quality Inspection system. The quality monitoring system is designed to detect defects and anomalies in terms of their size and severity, scratches, spills, leaks including cracks and foreign objects, as well as improper position of specific objects. This can reduce human error and produce more consistent and higher-quality products. Human resources can be used more efficiently by assigning employees to activities that create more value.
 
Visual Quality Inspection is the first video analytics solution service based on Konica Minolta's own imaging IoT platform FORXAI. The platform enables immediate AI-based edge analysis processing of images and videos on site or quick cloud-based processing. The image data is provided by highly sensitive, intelligent video camera solutions that detect defects better than the human eye. Based on Deep Learning [1] FORXAI Imaging AI analyses these images, recognises specific patterns and thus identifies defects. It is trained for this monotonous but critical task and achieves a higher level of accuracy and consistency than human inspection processes. The platform provides all the information to the client in real time. Defects are rated in terms of their severity on a scale of 0 to 100% and the process manager is immediately notified via the dashboard. They can then retrieve the images from the relevant cameras to identify the type of warning. This enables a real-time response to the problem and minimises the number of staff required, as each camera does not need to be constantly monitored. The very easy-to-use user interface is simple to operate, even without knowledge of programming or machine learning. To make production predictable, the platform also provides long-term analysis and statistics on the number of items detected and the type of defects.
 

Konica Minolta has already been able to carry out numerous use cases with several pilot customers.

  • Konica Minolta's customer Phoenix, based in the Czech Republic, and pharma logistics customers in Poland and Spain use plastic boxes to deliver products to pharmacies. These boxes are used repeatedly and can therefore become damaged or contaminated. If a customer returns the products because of such shipping boxes, it can be expensive for the logistics company. VQI inspects the boxes and commands the separator in the production line to remove defective boxes from the line or send dirty boxes for immediate washing.
  • Ronal, a car-rim manufacturer based in the Czech Republic, was also looking for a solution for performing visual quality control on rims. Konica Minolta's VQI now detects scratches, dirt, oxides, pores, depressions, burrs and deformations on semi-finished products. It also serves as pre-filter by sorting out products with severe defects that are over one millimetre in size.
  • With Severotisk from the Czech Republic, Konica Minolta has been able to win an industrial printing company as a customer: The company has repeatedly had problems with the quality of the paper on its rotary heatset machines, which often led to the machines coming to a standstill. VQI detects various defects in the paper and immediately notifies the staff, preventing the standstill before it happens.
  • Another Czech customer, NC Line, which offers complete sheet metal processing services, explored using VQI for detecting defects on metal and plastic parts as part of an innovation project in cooperation with Brno University of Technology.
  • Konica Minolta also has a customer in the Netherlands that produces cheese slices for the food industry. Cheese slices produced by cheese dryers can come out of the machine broken or wet, which can affect the quality of the product. The slice can also be misplaced in the packaging. VQI can detect anomalies in the production of cheese slices and immediately informs the operator.
  • In Poland, Konica Minolta has an automotive customer that manufactures heavy semi-trailer frames. This production process can be dangerous, especially if the frames have to be moved using a crane. In the plant, several injuries and dangerous situations occurred as the frame was being lifted, usually due to the crane head not being properly attached to the frame — a situation caused by human error. VQI checks that the crane head is properly and safely attached to the trailer frame, thus increasing safety in the workplace.
  • In the Czech Republic, Konica Minolta has a customer that manufactures insulation foils. VQI can detect defects in insulation foils better and faster than humans, improving manufacturing efficiency and delivering high-quality products to customers.
  • In Denmark, Konica Minolta has a customer that manufactures insulating walls. In practice, the glue often seeps through the final layer: However, this cannot always be seen immediately with the human eye as the glue is transparent. It is essential to detect this defect before the cutting process. VQI detects glue leaks automatically.
  • A global appliance producer was looking for a solution for performing visual quality inspections on its washing machine production process in Poland. VQI checks that all of the bolts used in the washing machines are present before the top cover is mounted. In addition, a quality check is carried out with regard to the print quality and readability of the barcode.

 

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We are excited to support customers from different sectors in their digital transformation with our Visual Quality Inspection technology. The first pilot customers were from a wide range of industries, indicating a high demand for automation in quality assurance. We take a close look at each individual customer and their processes and develop custom solutions for them that are precisely tailored to the respective requirements.

Shintaro Inoue

Shintaro Inoue, Head of Video Solution Service at Konica Minolta Business Solutions Europe

Since the algorithms on the FORXAI platform can be specifically adapted to the customer's needs, the aforementioned application examples can also be expanded to include any number of further use cases. As the number of use cases increases, along with the amount of field data and customer feedback, Konica Minolta is refining its algorithms, enabling the AI training programmes to be improved.


[1] Deep Learning learns from its experience and optimises the algorithm each time to improve the result. As with a human brain, neural networks are created, with different layers providing more and more information, resulting in more and more accurate results.

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About Konica Minolta Business Solutions Europe

Konica Minolta Business Solutions Europe GmbH, based in Langenhagen, Germany, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Konica Minolta Inc., Tokyo, Japan. With its unique expertise in imaging, data processing and data-based decision making, Konica Minolta creates relevant solutions for its customers - small and medium-sized businesses, large enterprises and public sector - and solves issues faced by society.


As a digital workplace solution provider, Konica Minolta helps its clients to identify and unlock the potential digitalisation holds and reach the next level in the digital maturity of their organisation by rethinking the workplace. In support of an ‘Intelligent connected workplace’, Konica Minolta offers cloud, IT, managed print and video solution services for remote working, collaboration, workflow management and automation and security. The company’s success in driving transformation is also confirmed by IDC, since the ‘IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Print Transformation 2020 Vendor Assessment’ stated that Konica Minolta is ‘recognised globally as a leader in print transformation’. Konica Minolta has been a Microsoft Global Managed Partner since 2021.


Konica Minolta's Igniting Print Possibilities offering helps printers, converters and brand owners maximise workflow automation to increase efficiency. The company delivers consultancy in all communication matters as well as top-of-the-line production, packaging as well as label printers. Its finishing devices create print products that stand out and create added value. Konica Minolta has established itself as the production printing market leader for more than a decade in Europe (InfoSource).


For an increasing number of organisations, success today is more than the narrow definition of financial prosperity – it also includes protecting the environment and having a positive impact on their workforce as well as the societies they are embedded in. With its commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Konica Minolta has pledged to consistently pursue its sustainability and social responsibility goals.


The company has been repeatedly recognised for its rich history of social contribution as well as for working towards achieving the SDGs throughout its business and supply chain. Konica Minolta is listed among “2021 Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World” and received the highest level in EcoVadis Sustainability Ratings.


For its innovative service approach that complements their devices perfectly, Konica Minolta was awarded the prestigious ‘Buyers Lab PaceSetter Award for Serviceability and Support 2020/2021’ from Keypoint Intelligence.


Konica Minolta Business Solutions Europe is represented by subsidiaries and distributors in more than 80 countries in Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa. With approximately 9,000 employees (as of April 2021), Konica Minolta Europe earned net sales of over 1.9 billion in financial year 2020/2021.


For more information, please visit https://www.konicaminolta.eu/eu-en/news and follow Konica Minolta on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter @KonicaMinoltaEU.


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Contact

Contact

Melanie Olbrich

Senior Expert Content Strategy & Development, Corporate Communications

melanie.olbrich@konicaminolta.eu

+49 (0)511 7404-5337