Quality Control is Hot Topic at GPD in Finland
June 23, 2009

Among the many topics covered at the recent Glass Performance Days in Tampere, Finland, was one that has been much talked about throughout the auto glass industry in recent months: quality control. Kenneth Wawrew, president and chief executive officer for SynergX Technologies Inc., in Laval, Quebec, addressed this topic during a session called "Glass Inspection Techniques in Automotive Glass Quality Control Processes."

One focus of the presentation noted that an increase in auto glass usage—and the complexity of the glass used in vehicles—has presented manufacturers with "pressure to constantly reduce the cost of the glass, [while] at the same time increase[ing] the quality of the glass being produced." To accommodate this need, Wawrew suggests that manufacturers employ automated optical inspection tools in their facilities.

Among the benefits of automated optical inspection tools, Wawrew says is yield management—which decreases the chance that defective glass might make it through key stations of the process, such as tempering, laminating and bending.

"Human inspection is still used extensively in automotive glass factories despite the proven inconsistency of human inspectors and the cost of human inspectors," reads the presentation that accompanied the discussion. "By applying automated optical inspection where human inspectors are used, the factory can improve its productivity and therefore, reduce the cost of manufacturing."

Wawrew encourages manufacturers to utilize optical inspection systems at various points in the process to optimize its usefulness—such as when the float glass arrives; after the cutting and grinding point; after painting, "to ensure there are no problems with the screening process for graphics such as the fade band, logos and codes;" and at the end of the production line.

He advised that human inspection can be inconsistent, as "tests have been done where the exact same products have been passed by human inspectors and the results have been different each time."

In closing, Wawrew noted that during a difficult time in the automotive glass manufacturing industry (and economy in general), factory productivity will be a key factor—and though investing in optical inspection equipment at this point may not seem ideal, "[it] is one of the tools that can be employed to improve factory productivity and guarantee higher quality" for manufacturers.

Glass Performance Days was held June 12-15 in Tampere, Finland.

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