In our work with CD/DVD manufacturers, we’ve seen the following management mistake occur more often than you might think.
A company makes all the investments it deems necessary to begin manufacturing discs —molding machines, printing machines, packaging machines, material handling equipment, and all kinds of consumable items. They’re all set to begin production. But then someone—perhaps a customer or a competitor or a supplier—says to them: “Where are your inspection systems for quality control?” And management doesn’t have a good answer.
Inspection systems for quality control are often an overlooked key piece of production hardware—despite the fact that the disc manufacturing industry has become so competitive that there really is very little room for error and manufacturers are facing increased pressure to deliver “perfect” product.
What if you didn’t put in automated inspection systems such as Ident code readers and print check systems in your production line? How would your customers react to that? Your competitors?
Top Quality-Control Challenges Faced by Optical Disc Manufacturers
Two of the most challenging quality-control problems at the end of line are print quality and disc contamination—both of which can be improved with the use of automated inspection systems.
Print inspection is an important tool for a replicator, as their customers and end consumers continue to demand picture-perfect print quality. Customer confidence deteriorates when the color quality varies from disc to disc or doesn’t match original specifications. A reduction in color quality—along with surface related defects resulting from the printing process (e.g. pinholes, squeegee marks, lacquer defects, scratches) —results in a perception, or the reality, of poor quality-control processes in a replicator’s facility.
Disc contamination occurs when the wrong disc appears at the wrong place in a production process. Replicators are required to provide their customers with an assurance that discs won’t end up in the wrong packaging or be decorated with the wrong image. Either one of these “mix-ups” can result in increased waste, missed deadlines, and/or decreased value of the product.
The Benefits of Automatic Inspection Systems
Automatic Inspection systems provide strong financial rewards for manufacturers by reducing manufacturing costs in three key areas:
- Improved quality of the shipped discs. By replacing a manual inspector, your defect detection rate will increase, often from a typical 70% (manual) to 95% or higher (automated system).
- Reduced personnel costs due to automation of manual inspection tasks. Some disc manufacturing plants use operators to perform repetitive, mundane inspection tasks that can be replaced with automatic inspection systems.
- Reduced costs of component wastage. By placing an inspection system early in a process, a defect can be detected early and the product can be eliminated from production prior to adding further value to it.
Progressive disc manufacturers also gain key competitive benefits from automated inspection system. Implementing automatic inspection equipment in your factory improves your competitive position by enabling you to output higher-quality discs.
Meanwhile, your sales department can use an automatic inspection system to their advantage by showing to their sales prospects the high level of security and quality control that your factory contains.
No matter what type of optical media you are replicating, your customers and the consumer demand perfect quality with every disc. If you cannot produce it, your competitors will be able to. Automatic inspection systems will make sure that your products are perfect when shipped to your customer. And you can maximize your productivity by keeping your replication, printing, and packaging machines running smoothly, detecting most defects before your customers find them.
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