Designing a modern diesel engine presents many challenges for engineers. One of the biggest is making sure that each engine component is properly sealed during operation.

Head gaskets, which seal the engine cylinder head and block, are particularly challenging. First, they must be an exact thickness to allow oil and coolant to properly flow between the components—while at the same time preventing the two liquids from mixing or leaking into the combustion chamber. The gaskets must also be able to perform these tasks in a wide range of temperatures and withstand various loads while the engine is running.

Diesel engine manufacturers perform various tests and inspection procedures on their head gaskets to ensure high quality and performance. In early 2014, Polish integrator PSA Zapis Hardware Sp. z.o.o. (PSAZ) developed a gasket-inspection workstation for a large European manufacturer of diesel engines.

The workstation features a Cognex In-Sight 1100 micro vision system that makes sure the correct gasket is placed within the engine and the gasket is the proper thickness. Besides being compact (30 by 30 by 60 millimeters), the vision system acquires up to 60 images per second in a standard 640-by-480-pixel resolution. It also features a durable vibration-resistant housing made of aluminum and stainless steel.

At the workstation, the operator scans the bar code on the engine to automatically call up and run the inspection program appropriate for components in that specific engine type. The vision system takes an image of the gasket and then quickly analyzes the photo to determine if the gasket is the correct type and thickness. A second image and analysis is performed to verify the initial finding and ensure that the gasket is within tolerance.

Images taken during inspection are displayed on a Cognex VisionView 700 panel in real time. These images and all related data are stored in the vision system for future reference. PSAZ says the vision system has checked about 2,400 engines per day with 100 percent reliability for more than three years.

Manufacturers in many industries like the system’s 22 vision tools for part inspection, as well as its ability to communicate with a PLC, robot or HMI for data collection and archiving. Colorful tool graphics, a results table and a filmstrip control simplify application troubleshooting and identifying bad parts.

Station operators like the panel’s flexibility (five Ethernet and three USB ports), and that it allows easy entry of new types of gaskets to be inspected. The panel is capable of displaying images from up to nine systems and offers a wide range of run mode features, including fast refresh that makes it easy to focus. Critical controls, such as trigger and online status, can be configured so that only authorized users are able to modify them.

For more information on vision systems, call 855-426-4639 or visit