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Robotics Case Studies

Fully Automated Inspection for Surgical Implants

Cognex Corporation

Fully Automated Inspection for Surgical Implants100% inspection and identification is essential for most products. Low-volume production often goes hand-in-hand with high costs, particularly if the variety of products concerned is also extensive. DePuy Spine (a Johnson and Johnson company based in Switzerland) is a good example of this producing small implants such as screws for spinal surgery.

Previously this kind of operation had been done manually but with regulations growing ever stricter, it became clear that only vision technology could provide the kind of solution necessary. Flexible part automation using a desktop robot and a Cognex vision system developed by Compar that integrates the power of Cognex PC vision solutions proved more suitable and economic than fully-automated in-line inspection.

The Right Vision Platform
Cognex partner integrator Compar developed the flexible and scalable vision solution based on Cognex PC vision.

Each implant is placed in the cell of a blister pack. Each batch is identifiable by a code and certain nests may be empty. The products are inspected in their individual nests by being passed through a desktop vision system. The autonomous inspection system (AIS) consists of a 2-axis desktop robot and a PC-based vision system using the Cognex Vision Library as a platform. The camera is mounted on the desktop robot’s y-axis, while the blister packs are moved along under the camera in the x-direction. Several inspections can be conducted for each nest. To simplify the entry of data per batch the system is equipped with a barcode scanner. The inspected data are compared against the set values and permissible tolerances. If a faulty product is detected, an alarm is triggered and quality assurance personnel remove the product for manual inspection. An added advantage of the system is that it ensures full 21 CFR part 11 compliance by tracking the results for each batch and integrating them for future reference. With the automation of the inspection process using vision, DePuy can be sure that the results being stored for each batch are reliable.

Major Advantages

  • Integration of vision in a mechanical environment allowing inspection of the whole batch in one
  • allows complete inspection that all is conforming coming out of production
  • 100% inspection and quality control of medical implants before they are shipped around the world
  • full traceability ensuring compliance
  • manual process made more efficient
  • camera need not be exactly positioned and the results are still reliable

A Scalable Vision Solution from Compar and Cognex
Future plans for expansion of the application may include surface inspection, print layout inspection, soldering point inspection, or code reading. The solution proposed here is easily adaptable for many other types of inspection and identification applications.

Johann Faneca, production manager at DePuy Spine had this to say, ‘‘We are very pleased with the vision installation – thanks to the automated solution from Cognex and Compar we estimate a saving in time alone of over CHF 100,000 for the first year which will be an excellent return on our  investment.’‘

About Cognex
Cognex Corporation designs, develops, manufactures, and markets machine vision sensors and systems, or devices that can ‘‘see.’‘  Cognex vision sensors are used in factories around the world to automate the manufacture of a wide range of items and to assure their quality. Cognex is the world's leader in the machine vision industry, having shipped more than 400,000 machine vision systems, representing over $2 billion in cumulative revenue, since the company's founding in 1981.  In addition to its corporate headquarters in Natick, Massachusetts, Cognex also has regional offices and distributors located throughout North America, Japan, Europe, Asia, and Latin America.
For additional information, please contact:
COGNEX Germany Inc.
Karin Krell
Emmy-Noether-Str. 11
DE-76131 Karlsruhe
Tel. +49 721 – 66 39 252        
Fax +49 721 – 66 39 599

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