Reducing defects and downtime with AI-enabled automated inspections

A large, multinational automobile manufacturer responsible for producing millions of vehicles annually, engaged with IBM to streamline their manufacturing processes with seamless, automated inspections driven by real-time data and artificial intelligence (AI).

As an automobile manufacturer, our client has an inherent duty to provide high-quality products. Ideally, they need to discover and fix any defects well before the automobile reaches the consumer. These defects are often expensive, difficult to identify and present a myriad of significant risks to customer satisfaction.

Quality control and early defect detection are paramount to uphold standards, enhance operational efficiency, reduce costs and deliver vehicles that meet or exceed customer expectations while safeguarding the reputation of the manufacturer.

How IBM helped the client better detect and correct defects during manufacturing

IBM worked with the client’s technical experts to deploy IBM® Inspection Suite solutions to help them reduce defects and downtime while enabling quick action and issue resolution. The solutions deployed include fixed-mounted inspections (IBM® Maximo® Visual Inspection Mobile) and handheld inspections (IBM® Inspector Portable). Hands-free wearable inspections (IBM® Inspector Wearable) were also made available for situations that required a head-mounted display.

While computer vision for quality has existed in more primitive states for the last 30 years, the lightweight and portable nature of IBM’s solution, which is based on a standard iPhone and uses readily available hardware, really got our client’s attention. The client loved the fact that the solution can be used anywhere, at any time, by any of their employees—even while objects are in motion.

Scaling to 30 million inspections for an immediate and significant reduction in defects

The IBM Inspection Suite improved the client’s quality inspection process without requiring coding. The client found the system to be simple to train and deploy, without the need for data scientists. The system learned quickly from images of acceptable and defective work products, which enabled the solution to be up and running within a matter of weeks. The implementation costs were also lower than those of viable alternatives.

The ability to deliver AI-enabled automation by using an intuitive process in their plants allowed this client to scale this user-friendly technology rapidly across numerous other facilities where it aided in over 30 million inspections. The customer almost immediately realized measurable success due to the significant reduction in defects.

Voted on by the leaders of the client’s technical community, the client awarded their annual IT Innovation award to IBM for the technology they believed delivered the greatest value-driving innovation to their company. In presenting the award, the client’s executives declared that a discussion with IBM about transformation led to a focus on improving manufacturing quality with AI automation.

The Inspection Suite supported the client’s quality initiatives with in-station process control and quality remediation at the point of assembly or installation. The solution also provided continuous process improvement that is helping the client lower repair and warranty costs, while improving their customer satisfaction.

Transparency and trust in AI

By bringing the power of IBM’s deep AI capabilities, deployable on cost-effective edge infrastructure, across the client’s plants, IBM Inspection Suite enabled the client to deliver higher quality vehicles to their customers. The client is now expanding to additional plants and use cases thanks to their collaboration and innovation with IBM.

All the team members at IBM were honored that this client recognized them for their business and technical achievements. We believe that this recognition reflects the IBM values of client dedication and innovation that matters. It is a direct acknowledgment of the value IBM Inspection Suite provides to clients.

IBM’s mission is to harness the power of data and AI to drive real-time, predictive business insights that help clients make intelligent decisions.

Empower your subject matter experts with automated visual inspection

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