As part of the EIT Manufacturing 2020 projects, Whirlpool, together with Politecnico di Milano, Siemens and CEA have joined forces to test and bring a new quality inspection solution on the market. The objective: To solve the common problem of contamination of materials or components on the production line, often leading to excess waste and discarding almost finalized products.
Cutting-edge hyperspectral imaging detecting surface contamination
The “LoViCoSpec” project uses cutting-edge hyperspectral imaging and analysis to detect surface contamination of components on a production line. Besides ensuring a consistent quality, the solution also reduces unnecessary waste as quality issues are detected in advance. The technology is currently being tested on one of Whirlpool’s refrigerator product lines. On this product line, lubricants are a source of contamination. Lubricants are necessary for the stamping of the metal pieces, but it can cause the paint to crumble if still present on the surface as the piece reaches the painting stage. Thanks to very detailed hyperspectral imaging, contamination that’s invisible to the human eye can be detected and the shop-floor staff alerted: with the help of Augmented Reality tool a worker can identify the spots and, in case, proceed with a manual cleaning.
A solution for consumer goods, automotive and building sectors
Next steps are laboratory tests, as well as preparing demonstrations that will be ready later in the autumn, after which the team will further develop the offer for wider market use.
“Beyond consumer goods; potential markets for the product could be the automotive and building sectors”, said Pierluigi Petrali, Manufacturing R&D Manager at Whirlpool.