The technique can be applied to any assembly process where inclusion of foreign material can cause harm.
The Boeing Company has developed an overhead camera system that can automatically spot small pieces of debris on a work surface that might otherwise go unnoticed. The system automatically analyzes inputs from one or more video cameras to detect undesirable colors representing materials that, if left in place, would degrade part quality. The system uses commercial off-the-shelf hardware and software for low-cost implementation and is currently in use in the Boeing F/A-18 wing production line (see figure). The patent-pending technology, known as foreign-object video detection and alert system and method, is available for license.
Specifically, the system requires that an area within the camera's field of view be designated as the area of interest. Then the system is exposed to foreign-object samples, work pieces, and tooling to build a library of good and bad colors. Various logical comparisons can be made, such as rejecting all colors except for that of the work piece. This greatly reduces the requirement for preexposure to foreign objects.
The video-based foreign-object detection system provides a low-cost means to improve first-time quality, thereby reducing the need for inspection and rework. Parts rejections are decreased, as are resulting delivery delays. Documentation is enhanced when images are retrieved from system memory, providing assurance that parts were produced without included foreign materials.
The foreign-object detection system is currently in use in production of F/A-18 C/D and E/F composite wing skins. It is being introduced elsewhere in the Boeing production facility. Documentation includes an operator's manual and system programming instructions. Technical staff which implemented the system is available to transfer system knowledge to licensees.
Video-based detection of foreign materials can be applied to any assembly process where inclusion of foreign material can cause harm. The system also can be applied to scene monitoring when anomalies can be identified by a change in color. An example of this would be a flight ramp or airport runway where foreign objects would be of a different color than the background tarmac.
The Boeing Company is currently developing business relationships with companies interested in applying Boeing technologies to their products. If actively interested, please contact Dennis Donahue, Marketing Manager, Licensing; MC 306-1285, PO Box 516, St. Louis, MO 63166; (314) 234-7093; fax (314) 232-4313;