Imago has been designing artificial vision systems for production monitoring and tracking for over 20 years. The company was born in the 90s from a far-sighted intuition; digitization was not yet upon us, but some one already envisaged that artificial vision would have a place in the future of die casting, of which the city of Brescia is a center of international importance.
Imago has chosen to maintain a sartorial approach. This means knowing how to detect the customer's specific problem, studying it in detail and then choosing the most suitable vision tools within the vast plateau of cutting-edge technology and combining them in the most appropriate way. To this are added vision algorithms appropriately developed and management software, essential for being able to communicate with other systems and with operators.
From this working method comes the in-depth knowledge of the sector and its many critical issues; this has led Imago to develop solutions that are able to go even beyond customer expectations, as happened with the latest innovations of the Mhira3D system. Let's listen to this story from the one who lived it first hand: here with us is Attilio Chillemi, founder and operational manager of Imago.
Where did the intuition to integrate industrial vision into the world of controls come from?
Traditional control methods were no longer in step with the technological evolution of the die casting sector, no longer able to meet the quality standards required by end customers such as, for example, the automotive industry. Hence the idea of integrating vision, to go beyond the capabilities of the human eye in terms of resolution, speed and repeatability of the result and be able to intercept very small defects or even those outside the visible spectrum.
The first solutions concerned the production of good/rejects electors. But we did not stop at this: we have designed systems that are able to prevent rejects, allowing to intervene with preventive maintenance, to avoid wasting resources and time.
Thanks to the process monitoring and data tracking that our systems provide, in line with the requirements of Industry 4.0, communicating in real time with the operator and with all connected machinery.
The information collected allows us to understand what the problem depends on and which point of the production line is most affected. In addition, by analyzing the trends, we can identify the presence of a discrepancy before a defective product is generated.
What is the reason for your vocation for custom?
The custom approach was a choice dictated by experience. In the die casting sector, of which we have gained a 360 degree knowledge over the years, each company has specific problems related to its particular production. Trying to respond to these needs, unique products were born, but also replicable and customizable systems, such as our Mhira3D.
The name suggests a three-dimensional analysis ...
Exactly, Mhira3D checks the integrity and completeness of eacht ype of part just extracted from the press, while itis in the robot gripper, through a 3D analysis. This guarantees the mathematical certainty of results, for example in checking for the presence of all overflows. Each side of the part is analyzed without slowing down production and, above all, without contact. But the most recent success of our Research& Development department was equipping the system with a thermal imaging camera capable of performing thermal analysis of the process at the same time as the 3D analysis.
How does it work?
The system operates a smart control of the die temperature variations at each shot. Mhira3D examines the thermographic map of the part at the end of each cycle; this is nothing but the mirror of what is happening in the die itself. In this way the part tells us about the thermal variations of the die. Any anomalies and drifts, detectable by means of innovative algorithms, are thus intercepted to anticipate and prevent events such as machine down time.
This complete and real-time monitoring is available to the operator, who can identify the areas in which overheating is occurring and intercept problems related to cooling and lubrication, such as clogging of the nozzles; he can also automate start-up by optimizing the number of initial rejects and detect burr formation.
Why is this step forward important?
From the scientific literature it is known that attention to thermal aspects plays a crucial role in production quality and above all in the optimization of resources. Experience in the field confirms this: defects arising from thermal problems are often not immediately detectable, but, if not intercepted, emerge in the sub sequent phases.
What about the usability of Mhira3D?
Mhira3D has a simple and intuitive interface, designed to be easily used by the machine operator, the production manager, the quality control officer and so on. In fact, communicating through images is immediate and easily interpreted by everyone. The system adapts very easily to the different dies that can be mounted on the press, both in terms of size and in the number of cavities. The actions it requires from the operator are minimal: it is sufficient to set the inspection areas, then the analysis is performed automatically. In addition, Mhira3D is designed for use inside the foundry and is not affected by the typical conditions of this environment.
What is Imago's approach with a company that decides to install Mhira3D? Do you provide training?
When a company installs Mhira3D for the first time, it is our pleasure to organize a short training, differentiated for all company figures who will use the system. Although its use is simple and limited to a few operations, it is essential for us to guarantee support and assistance in the initial phase. Subsequently, the customer is never abandoned: we ensure rapid response time and assistance for any problem, with interventions in presence or remotely for the entire life of the product.
Many already know Mhira3D both in Italy and abroad...
Mhira3D has been installed in many companies in Brescia and its province, but also in Turin, Emilia-Romagna and Friuli-Venezia Giulia.
As for abroad, we landed in the United States, Brazil, India and the Czech Republic.
Are further developments in the pipeline?
The next goal is to make Mhira3D capable of automatically acting on the lubrication and cooling systems to maintain optimal thermallevels. We will then continue with the study of new features: since the engine of our research is represented by technological innovation, the horizon of possibilities is almost infinite.
A search as arduous as it is exciting...
The road traveled up to now has required resources, precious collaborations and above all commitment and perseverance on the part of the whole Imago team for the development of this unique project.
Have you dedicated other systems to the die casting sector?Imago has designed two other devices, specific for the subsequent stages of the process: Anglerfish for checking part integrity after the trimming phase and Magpie for checking porosity and machining processes. All information about them is available on our website and we are always available for personalized advice.