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End-of-line versus distributed inspection

We were called into a meeting at a customer’s site to review the performance of an end of line inspection system we had installed. In the meeting was the production manager, the quality manager and accountant, the sales manager and the MD. The MD asked for a short summary of how the system was performing, firstly the sales manger reported that their customer was delighted with the products they were receiving. However, the production manager wanted to ease the settings on the system to get more production through, the quality manager however wanted more stringent settings to match their specification for the part. This discussion went on for some time until eventually the accountant said ‘this machine just produces scrap!’ of course in his eyes he would assume all production is good and hence yes this machine was therefore generating scrap, he couldn’t see this was the gatekeeper to their quality system.

This is many years ago, however it set me thinking that rather than supply systems solely built to inspect product we should integrate inspection into the manufacturing process wherever possible. For instance, the cost of adding vision to an assembly machine is undoubtedly far less than building a standalone machine, there is the ability to inspect at multiple points and not add value to a component that is already faulty [No fault Forward] – and the accountant doesn’t see a machine that just produces scrap!

Out of this scenario was born the Fisher Smith strategy of working with machine builders to integrate inspection into their systems with Fisher Smith involved from quotation to installation and beyond ensuring the best solutions are supplied both in terms of cost and performance. Our partnership with PCE Automation is a shining example of this strategy with many highly successful installations completed over some 15 years

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