Computer Vision-based Quality Inspection of Brick Slips

In the world of building materials, the difference between industry leadership and mere survival often lies in the ability to innovate. Wienerberger, a world leader in brick manufacturing, has a long history of embracing cutting-edge technology and strategic partnerships to stay ahead of the curve. The company’s dedication to excellence has given rise to unique offerings such as ready-made brick slips, distinguishing them from competitors.

However, maintaining a competitive edge in an increasingly price-sensitive market requires relentless innovation. Wienerberger’s drive to continually refine its manufacturing process and enhance product quality reflects its commitment to industry leadership and sets a standard for others to aspire to.
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Precision and Efficiency: Meeting the Challenges of a Demanding Market

The manufacturing of brick slips is an intricate process where even a 1mm variance can mean a significant difference in quality. With categories A, B, and C defining the quality of the bricks (with A being the highest). Ensuring qualitative output through precise brick slip dimensions is a crucial and complex endeavour. The manufacturing process needed to reflect Wienerberger's commitment to top-end quality while staying responsive to market demands. In an era where consumers demand both quality and affordability, the balance between precision and efficiency becomes critical. Wienerberger understood that success in this area would require a technological solution, aligning not only with their current production requirements but also adaptable enough to evolve with future industry trends. 


Strategic Partnerships and Innovation: The Road to Success

Wienerberger's long-time partnership with Faktion became the cornerstone of the solution. In the past, these two companies have collaborated on process optimization projects that led to significant energy consumption reduction, enhancing sustainability and efficiency. Recognizing the importance of technology in maintaining a competitive edge, Wienerberger engaged Faktion, which leveraged its ecosystem of complementary partners. Keyence came aboard as the hardware partner, providing the necessary technological backbone, and Datasar Automation was chosen for installation and industrial automation, contributing their extensive experience in seamless system integration. 


Creating Industry Standards: The Need for a Comprehensive System

The need was clear: a system that could seamlessly integrate with Wienerberger's manufacturing process to offer unparalleled precision in brick slip quality inspection. This not only involved sophisticated hardware but also an AI-driven approach to understand the intricacies of brick manufacturing and to create a system that could adapt to Wienerberger's exact standards. To build a solution that would not only meet current needs but anticipate future challenges, all parties needed to work in concert. Collaborative discussions, rigorous planning, and a shared vision guided the team towards creating a solution that would redefine industry standards. 




A Comprehensive, Data-Driven Approach: The Solution to Quality Control

The solution was a cutting-edge computer vision quality control system, where Keyence provided the vision hardware, and Faktion handled specification, training and configuration. Datasar Automation was responsible for setup, integration, and maintenance. The AI-driven approach meant that the system was more than just a mechanical solution. It provided insights and continuous learning, allowing for constant improvement and optimization. By harnessing the power of machine learning and data analytics, the team built a computer vision system that inspected the brick slips dimensions in search of deviations from the predetermined values. The system was not only capable of detecting quality inconsistencies but also learned from them, enhancing its efficiency over time. 


Implementation and Continuous Improvement: Actions that Define Leadership

Within a project lead time of just 3 months, the vision system went live, including the design and installation of top-down cameras, background LED lighting, defect rejection for C quality, and integration with a Fanuc robot to separate A and B quality brick slips. This, however, is just the beginning. The vision system's classification data will be used to analyze root causes in the upstream process, a clear indication of how data-driven manufacturing can lead to consistent improvements. The speed and efficiency of the implementation are testaments to the synergy between Wienerberger, Faktion, Keyence, and Datasar Automation, reflecting a shared commitment to excellence. 


A Future Built on Innovation and Partnership: The Results Speak for Themselves

This successful implementation sets a new standard in smart manufacturing and maintenance. It highlights how data-driven and AI approaches are not just the future but the present of the manufacturing industry. Wienerberger's decision to collaborate with Faktion and its ecosystem of partners has positioned them to outcompete in a market where price is paramount. This collaboration is a testament to their forward-thinking approach and a model for others in the industry to follow. By leveraging technological innovation and embracing collaborative partnerships, Wienerberger illustrates the transformational impact that strategic decisions can have on a traditional industry. 


The success of this project with Faktion, Keyence, and Datasar Automation solidifies Wienerberger's leadership in the building materials industry. It offers a glimpse into how strategic partnerships and technology-driven solutions can create a competitive advantage in today's challenging market landscape. This endeavor highlights a roadmap for innovation, cooperation, and leadership that resonates far beyond the brick manufacturing industry, providing insights for companies seeking to excel in an ever-changing business environment. 

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