The benefits of adaptive AI inspection in high-mix low-volume production

Humans excel at some tasks, whilst machines are better for others: production line inspection is a case in point. The trained eye of an experienced vision inspector is quick to spot errors, but a routine task like this is tiring. Moreover, inspection at each step of the production is unrealistic, especially with a lack of skilled operators. Enter adaptive AI inspection.

In high-speed production lines the inspection processes are highly automated, but what about high-mix low-volume production? Could a smart electronic vision system replicate the judgement of a human operator in terms of repeatability and robustness? According to Omron Automation, AI-enabled adaptive inspection overcomes the challenges of automated quality inspection, to improve flexibility, productivity, and adaptability.  

Adaptive AI inspection delivers accurate results.

When automating visual inspection tasks, one of the biggest hurdles is the large visual variation between borderline products. Two products may be defect-free but still have slight deviations, such as minimal differences in the label or on the surface. The challenge lies in teaching a system how to distinguish between defects and slight deviations.

The trained human eye can determine immediately if these differences have an impact on the quality of the product. However, with traditional automated inspection systems using machine vision the failure rate can be too high. Any small irregularity may lead to rejection even though the product is perfectly fine and fit for sale.

While AI technology can match the human skill levels, it often requires specialist IT and software skills. So, how can a machine achieve the level of a trained inspector without needing expert engineers spending ages on programming? Furthermore, how can the system tell the difference between ‘good to match’ or ‘good to sell’?

To address this, OMRON Automation developed an AI enabled defect detection system that mimics the skills of experienced quality inspectors. Using multiple images of defect-free products, an IA algorithm creates a reference image that can distinguish the deviations that lead to product rejection. Using AI in this way detects with human-like sensitivity to achieve a better return and a cleaner production. By rejecting fewer products, companies save on materials, waste and scrap. Another significant advantage is that the AI tool performs consistently and reliably 24/7.

Adaptive AI inspection is important for flexible and future-oriented manufacturing for increased OEE and quality, improved employee support, and seamless processes. Setup is straightforward and the system is flexible, making it ideal for a high-mix, low-volume mode of production. Importantly, it works regardless of material type, colour, or size to extract defects reliably.


Human resource shortages and product proliferation are leading to increased demands for autonomous and adaptive AI inspection systems. Machine vision combined with AI can deliver reliable defect detection inspection systems that enable human-like results without complicated setup or programming. BPX offers a wide range of Omron products at competitive prices, with excellent technical support and local same-day stock. Contact us for assistance.

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