BAJA CALIFORNIA, Mexico—Automotive supplier Morgan Polymer Seals has installed five vision inspection systems that were developed and built by in-house engineers to examine a wide range of simple and complex parts, from O-rings to over-molded plastic carrier gaskets.
The latest investment of $800,000 gives the privately held company a total of six automated vision inspection machines to check rubber and plastic sealing components produced for powertrain applications.
Founded in 1997, Morgan Polymer produces about 96 million parts annually for original equipment manufacturers such as Ford Motor Co. and General Motors.
The company bought its first vision inspection machine in 2014 when it took on new business to manufacture 12 million seals annually for capless refueling systems. The technology originally was developed to inspect and measure O-rings at high speed, but had been customized to inspect other rubber molded shapes.
"Once we realized the benefits of the technology, we understood that in order to have a reliable vision inspection system that fits our needs, we would need to advance this technology to meet our specific product matrix," said Todd Tesky, vice president of sales for Morgan Polymer. "After reaching the capacity of the first machine, we custom-designed and built the next one because we couldn't rely on someone to develop a vision system that is so specific to our products and gives us the desired results."
A medium-size company with about 500 employees, Morgan Polymer employs a team of engineers that designs seals and gaskets as well as an automation team with a manager, engineers and technicians who design and maintain plant equipment.
For the vision inspection systems, automation engineers selected commercially available high-speed cameras, 3D lasers and tables, and then integrated all the components with proprietary software. The machines are programmed to recognize irregularities that are difficult to detect with the human eye and will reject parts with defects, such as non-fills, knit lines, flash cuts, lack of material, different colors, concentricity, flatness and dimensional verification.
The rubber industry continues to use manual inspection, Tesky said, adding that it is only about 80 percent effective at best for detecting defects because there's so much surface area to inspect.
For example, a transmission plate that Morgan Polymer produces is complex in terms of shape and materials. The part, which is made of plastic, nylon mesh, multiple metal compression limiters and a seal, has 50 linear inches of just seal surface to inspect if it were to be stretched in a straight line.