Waldo Pérez
2013, Mexico
A new real-time and aluminum welding inspection system
Materials

Approximately 300,000 cars are manufactured per year at the average automobile assembly plant. Each one of those cars contains 3,000 to 4,000 welded parts that ensure the integrity of the vehicle. It would take a quality control inspector more than 70 years to individually inspect each welded part of the vehicles produced during just one day.

A team from the Research Institute for Diagnostic  Imagimatica at the University of Windsor in Canada, along with their industrial partners (including Chrysler, Centerline and Magna),developed a unique, ultrasonic system capable of inspecting each of these billions of welding points at the time of manufacture. During the welding process, the inspection system reports the quality of the welding to the robot responsible for the process.

Recently international regulations aimed at reducing CO2 emissions have posed a series of challenges for the automobile industry; amongst available solutions is the use of lightweight materials, like aluminum, which can reduce fuel consumption by more than half and reduce emission levels. This trend in turn generated a problem since the ultrasonic system was not able to inspect welded aluminum.

Waldo responded to this challenge by updating the hardware responsible for determining the quality of the aluminum welding through a process that acquires images faster, in line with the pace of the welding process in aluminum.

Taking into account that the installation of an ultrasonic sensor is not optional when welding monitoring processes involve aluminum parts, the innovation introduced by Waldo has been essential to the use of this system, and the project has generated a lot of press both in journals and international conferences.