Better Safe than Sorry

We would like to believe that we are living in a 6-sigma world, i.e. we expect processes to be 99.99966% reliable- resting on a foundation of thorough process design, tight process control and our unshakable belief in root-cause- relationships. We expect the world we create to be a deterministic system with predictable outcomes.

But even today, 30 years after it’s famous introduction at Motorola, we are still struggling when and how to apply the concept. It seems to compete with a ‘good enough’ mentality, an 80/20 approach, agile innovation, the framework of lean efficiency. And it is so hard.

80/ 20 vs. 6-sigma

And while it makes perfect sense that 8 out of 10 meals we eat are healthy and wholesome- when it comes to safety we need virtually flawless execution. We want the brakes in our car to work every single time. So proper assessment of the situation is essential.

We can design technical systems to a defined reliability standard. Where we have to deal with varying conditions or when the ‘human factor’ of fatigue or distraction comes into play we can control, measure and grade combined with inspection technology that tirelessly checks for any deviations or imperfections. Automated X-ray inspection is one of them.

Automated X-ray inspection (AXI) is a technology based on X-rays to automatically inspect features, which are typically hidden from view.

scanning_xl-2Automated X-ray inspection is used in a wide range of industries and applications, predominantly with two major goals:

  1. Process optimization, i.e. the results of the inspection are used to control and optimize processing steps,
  2. Anomaly detection, i.e. the result of the inspection serve as a criterion to reject a part (for scrap or re-work).

AXI has a wide range of applications from the quality check of alloy wheels[1] to the detection of bone fragments[2] in processed meat. Wherever large numbers of very similar items are produced according to a defined standard, automatic inspection using advanced image processing and pattern recognition software (Computer vision) has become a useful tool to ensure quality and improve yield in processing and manufacturing. [source: Wikipedia]

And it has proven to be of vital (!) importance when it comes to safety:

  • in the food and beverage industry (check for contamination with metal, glass, bones etc.),
  • in safety critical parts (alloy rims, welding seams, aircraft components etc.),
  • in transportation and travel (luggage inspection at airports, border control etc.),

and in many more areas. So it is worth to have a closer look.

Better safe than sorry!

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