To ensure quality and enable cradle-to-grave traceability of its automotive products, the BorgWarner Inc. (Auburn Hills, MI) facility in Tulle, France, recently installed a testing and part-marking system developed by French system integrator Alema Automation (Mérignac, France).



The BorgWarner Inc. (Auburn Hills, MI) facility in Tulle, France, produces a range of automotive components and assemblies, including antilock braking systems, connectors, limiters and pump bodies. To ensure quality and enable cradle-to-grave traceability of its products, the company recently installed a testing and part-marking system developed by French system integrator Alema Automation (Mérignac, France). Integral to the system are a number of machine-vision cameras from Cognex Corp. (Natick, MA), as well as a set of micro percussion marking machines from Technifor Inc. (Charlotte, NC).

Among other requirements, BorgWarner needed to mark each part and then confirm afterward that each new mark was in spec. The company also wanted to confirm that each part had successfully passed a battery of functional tests before being delivered to its customers.

To accomplish these goals, Alema configured its system so that a micro percussion machine marks each completed assembly with two lines of alphanumerical characters as soon as the assembly comes off the production line. These characters include a model reference, batch number and the manufacturing date. Afterward, each part passes through a vision station, which reads the characters using an 8500 card and VisionPro and ESO’CR software. This information is transferred to a Technifor engraver, which converts the alphanumeric designation into 2D Data Matrix code, which is marked on the other side of the piece.

To avoid marking errors and guarantee the durability of the code, an In-Sight 5110 vision sensor, installed beside the micro percussion machine, verifies the content and the quality of the marking.

Once marked, each component undergoes a series of product-specific tests, after which a second In-Sight 5110 records the fact that each piece has successfully passed through the testing station. Despite the fact that after testing the various pieces may be dry or oily, depending on the testing process, the In-Sight 5110 can read the code on each piece without any extra configuration.

For maximum security, Alema installed a third In-Sight 5110 system at the entrance to the packaging area to perform a final check before any product is shipped to customers. Throughout these procedures, the sensors communicate with the factory database, providing it with test results.

In addition to being effective, Alema was able to install the system in record time. In all, the company needed 2 days to confirm that the system worked correctly on prototype pieces, and then a week to install the system at the factory, and train the necessary BorgWarner personnel in its use and maintenance.

Since going on-line, the In-Sight vision systems have proved extremely robust, thanks to their ability to cope with environmental changes in lighting and position. This, in turn, allows BorgWarner to use the same equipment on multiple workstations, greatly reducing the number of spare parts the company needs to keep on hand.

“Thanks to the comprehensive nature of the Cognex solution and to their partner network, we have a high performance, cost-effective solution at our disposal,” says BorgWarner’s Stéphane Laval.

For more on machine vision, call 508-650-3000 or visit www.cognex.com.

For more on part marking, call 704-525-5230 or visit www.technifor.com.