Topo Displays the Way Forward

More improvements to the Topography Scanner bring cable surface detection and sensor resolution features to new heights. Plus, there are more smart apps and tools for enhanced features.

Now that we have successfully launched the Topo (short for Topography Scanner) to multiple production lines, it is time to focus on incremental improvements. Use in-production has provide valuable experience as the system works and where to focus next. We are delighted to see that the system’s basic functions operate exactly as planned. An automated surface detection system has features for adjusting the sensitivity according to preference or produced cable. Building on top of the basic functions, we have developed a set of additional tools and functionalities.

Facilitate inspection

The key quality of lifetime and usability improvements include OperatorView software for user-friendly notification, inspection, and location of detected surface defects. You can determine a physical inspection point along the production line. Then the software will show the operator what kind of surface defects are coming and how many minutes until a detected fault is at the inspection point.

The software shows size metrics, pictures, as well as a 3D model of an incoming defect. Plus, it offers an option for classification of detections by the user. Topo when combined with this module, eliminates the need for 24/7 manual surface inspection. It makes it easy for operators to inspect while taking necessary actions on all relevant findings. We are also implementing a label printer and applicator to Topo, making the reaction to defects even easier.

Preemptive alarm and reports

In addition to surface defects, we have implemented an alarm and notification system for cable geometry changes. Sudden changes in cable diameter or other parameters like roundness will be notified via the same OperatorView software. Some changes in cable shape, such as flat areas or sink-ins, can easily slip past other measurement devices and regular data logging, but with the Topo, even minor local anomalies are spotted and announced.

Lastly, creating reports of current or past productions has been a requested feature, so we have also implemented a separate reporting function. This easy-touse interface lets you view and browse past productions and detected surface defects. Study all defects during a specific production run, their location, size metrics, type, and pictures, interact with the 3D model of interesting defects and create a report document.

Powerful computation

Our next focus looks further, towards the horizon and beyond. What will be the needs and developments in the next 2-3 years? One clear aspect is increased computation and analytics performance needed at the production line and factory levels. Increased computational power is required, as we are developing new functionalities based on the data provided by the Topo system. Take, for example, the comparison of topography and process data from multiple production lines in order to identify differences in line performance and their root causes.

These features call for an increase in the calculation capacity of the system. We are working on ways to improve computation efficiency and underlying resource usage. An increase in digitalization will be possible by adapting novel dynamic load balancing, resource scheduling mechanisms and scaling up the computational resources.

Manufacturing is digital

Future solutions like digital production lines allow comparison of real-time process and quality data with process models to optimize the operation and increase production efficiency. These solutions also enable predictive maintenance functionalities by finding minor anomalies in the process data before they affect the end product quality. Future development, which is enabled by the measurement data provided by the topography scanner, will take us towards more autonomous and truly intelligent production lines.


Mikko Lahti, Director, R&D


Topics: Performance solutions, Support Services, Maillefer, Wire & cable manufacturing, Digitalization, Innovation, customer, software, production line

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