Ford's High-Tech Three-Dimensional Automated Paint Defect Detection System Delivers Maximum Quality
The persistent investment in the Silverton Assembly Plant in Pretoria has seen a substantial growth in production volumes, the Ford Ranger exports to over 100 global markets and the Everest is shipped to countries all over the African continent.
Thanks to a R3-billion investment between 2016 and 2019, Ford has seen received a capacity increase. The extensive investment produced pioneering production and quality systems that guarantee its vehicles supply a high level of satisfaction for customers globally.
The innovative Paint Defect Detection System is a key technology introduced in 2019 in the Silverton plant’s vast 12 000m2 Paint Shop and is able to detect the slightest paint imperfections. Fully automatic and computerized, the detection system scans the paintwork of every vehicle body.
Ockert Berry, VP Operations at Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA) says that the launch of this ingenious system was a major breakthrough for the Silverton plant due to it significantly enhancing the Paint Shop’s quality. It also compliments their major investment in 2018 to use 62 robots and so completely automate the painting process.
He also states that the paint protection system had previously been employed by the leading plants in the US as well as Europe but the integrated tailgate scanner for the Ranger is a Ford first worldwide. The new system had been beneficial in final quality and upgraded customer satisfaction for locally assembled Ranger and Everest models.
The fully automated Paint Defect Detection System uses a specially developed light tunnel furnished with 21 high-resolution cameras. Relying on a three-dimensional imaging system that applies varying degrees and angles of light while performing microscopic scans of each painted vehicle surface to detect any imperfections that occurred during the painting process.
Over 3 000 images are captured in 15 seconds of a vehicle body which is then sewed together to create a full 3D image that is digitally compared to a perfect computer model. The system emphasizes surface imperfections by size (finer than a grain of salt) and its precise location. Skilled production operators will then attend to this issue along one of two manicure lines before final inspection and buy-off.
The paint inspection technology is fully integrated into Ford's global production quality database for its manufacturing operations that is available from anywhere thanks to the company's secure intranet. It associates the imperfections detected images with the vehicle identification number (VIN) for full traceability and quality valuations.
Additionally, the system constantly observers and provides feedback on real-time data based on the number of defects by colour, model and body panel so that a solution can be found promptly. This contributes to the great paint quality for Ranger and Everest models manufactured in South-Africa.