Inspection robot basics: A 101 guide to automated quality assurance

July 13, 2023
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What are Inspection robots?

So what exactly are Inspection robots? In simple terms, they're automated machines designed to check that products meet quality standards. They use cameras, sensors and even AI to inspect items with speed, precision and objectivity.

Adding Inspection robots to your production line means turning over the repetitive task of quality assurance to automated helpers. This allows human workers to focus on more engaging jobs. It also helps minimize costly errors and ensures consistent inspection.

  • Visual Inspection: The most common type, using cameras and image processing to check for surface defects, correct colors, branding, and more.
  • Dimensional Inspection: Uses lasers or structured light to scan items and verify that critical dimensions are within tolerance.
  • Testing: Some robots actually test products to ensure proper function by bending, squeezing or manipulating the item in a controlled manner.

The benefits of incorporating Inspection robots into your operations are huge. They can inspect goods 24/7 at superhuman speeds. Their analytical software can become smarter over time, becoming increasingly accurate. And they free up your skilled employees to do work that really matters.

While the upfront costs of automation may seem high, Inspection robots often pay for themselves within a year or two through increased productivity, reduced waste, and higher customer satisfaction. For many businesses, these automated quality assurance solutions are pivotal to gaining a competitive advantage.

How inspection robots work

So how do these robot inspectors actually work? Primarily, they use optical sensors like cameras, scanners and vision systems to examine components, compare them to a "gold standard" reference image, and determine if everything looks up to snuff.

Most inspection robots will also have suction grippers or mechanical arms allowing them to pick up and manipulate parts for multi-angle inspection.

Once a robot starts inspecting, it goes through several steps:

  1. It receives a prompt for what kind of inspection to perform based on the production schedule. This could be inspecting machined parts, tire treads, smartphone screens, or any other manufactured component.
  2. It moves into position over the parts to be inspected, either stationary on a platform or via a moving track system. Often, Inspection robots will be paired with a conveyor.
  3. High-resolution cameras and sensors gather images and data, which the robot's computer vision algorithms then analyze to detect any defects or quality issues. Things like cracks, scratches, faulty wiring, or incorrect dimensions.
  4. If any problems are found, the robot flags that part for removal or rework. It may also temporarily stop the production line to fix the issue before continuing. Inspection robots can be equipped with a gripper to remove defective parts by themselves.
  5. Provided all looks well, the robot gives the green light for those components to move on to the next stage of production or shipment.

Benefits of using Inspection robots

Using these automated inspectors, manufacturers can reduce waste, improve product quality, increase production speed, and avoid costly recalls. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of Inspection robots in more detail:

Increased productivity

Using Inspection robots allows companies to optimize their production lines in ways that maximize output. Robots don’t get tired, distracted or bored, so they can operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week without breaks. This constant operation significantly boosts productivity and throughput. Studies show that companies implementing automation have increased production by at least 50-100% on average.

While robots can work unsupervised, it is possible for a human inspector to easily oversee several Inspection robots and provide a manual “second-line” inspection where necessary. Using a Collaborative robot (or “Cobot”) for inspection, like RO1, allows the robot to work safely alongside your workforce, with automatic collision detection and emergency stoppage built into the robot.

Improved quality

Inspection robots are extremely precise and consistent. They use advanced sensors, cameras and AI to check products with a high degree of accuracy. This results in fewer defects, higher quality goods and improved customer satisfaction. 

Safer work environment

Using robots for hazardous or repetitive jobs helps create a safer work environment for human employees. Robots can easily handle dangerous materials with toxic chemicals, sharp edges or heavy materials. They can also perform highly repetitive pick-up jobs that often lead to injuries like muscle strains. By delegating these jobs to machines, companies can avoid health and safety issues, lower insurance costs and boost employee satisfaction.

In summary, adding automated inspection systems provides significant benefits to both companies and their customers. Increased productivity, higher quality, lower costs and a safer work environment are just a few of the many advantages of embracing robotics and automation. The future is automated, and Inspection robots are leading the way.

Types of Inspection robots

Fixed automated robotic arms

The robotic arms you're probably most familiar with are fixed in one place on the production line. They use multiple joints and axes of motion to precisely manipulate, move and inspect parts. Fixed arms are ideal for repetitive tasks like:

  • Pick and place: Grabbing parts from a conveyor belt or bin and moving them to another location.
  • Assembly: Putting components together with a high degree of accuracy.
  • And of course, Inspection: Closely examining parts for defects using integrated cameras and sensors.

Fixed robots don't require a complex control system to navigate but they are limited to operating within a set work area. They work well for high-volume production where the same procedure is repeated constantly. Pair with a conveyor for best results.

Mobile Inspection robots

Mobile robots can move freely around a space to perform quality inspections. They use sensors, navigation systems and routing algorithms to map areas, detect obstacles and travel between inspection points. Some benefits of mobile Inspection robots include:

  • Flexibility: They can be quickly re-tasked and re-routed as needed to different parts of a facility.
  • Efficiency: Multiple mobile robots can work together to cover more ground in less time.
  • Hazardous area access: Mobile robots can perform inspections in confined, dangerous or hard-to-reach spaces that humans cannot easily access.

The downside is mobile robots require complex control and guidance systems, as well as designated pathways and spaces to navigate. They may have limited payload capacity compared to fixed robotic arms. Mobile Inspection robots are ideal for large production facilities where inspections are needed across a wide, potentially hazardous cell.

Gantry Inspection robots

Some robotic systems are affixed to a ceiling gantry, where the robot can move safely around the cell and inspect different parts without taking up space on the shop floor. These robots work best when parts for inspection are located in one or more places, or when random inspections are required on a production line.

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Implementing Inspection bots on your production line

Once you’ve decided to implement automated Inspection robots on your production line, it’s time to get started. Here are some tips to help integrate them into your operations:

Choose the right bot for the job

Select a robot that is suitable for your specific quality assurance needs. Consider the size and delicacy of the parts it will handle, the types of defects it needs to detect, and the environment it will work in. Don’t get a bot that is over- or under-qualified for the task. For most tasks, we recommend a six-axis stationary arm like RO1.

Test before deploying

Pilot the Inspection robot on a small scale before introducing it to the main production line. Check that it can accurately and consistently identify the defects it is designed to catch. Note that while your robotics software may handle 80% of inspections without issue, the final 20% of edge cases can often take a while to identify and prepare for. 

Often, manufacturers will choose to have their robot work alongside human inspectors to build trust in the robot’s detection capabilities before full, automated deployment.

Train your staff

Provide thorough training for the employees who will be operating and maintaining the Inspection robots. Explain how the bots work, how to properly set them up for different products or production runs, how to interpret and act on their findings, and how to perform basic troubleshooting if issues arise. Continually evaluate staff to ensure proper use and address any knowledge gaps.

Start small and scale up

Begin by using the Inspection robots for a limited, controlled portion of quality assurance before expanding their use. This allows you to gradually get comfortable with the technology, make adjustments as needed, and minimize disruption to existing processes. You can then increase the span of control and varieties of products as experience is gained.

Continuously improve

Regularly evaluate how the implementation of Inspection robots is going and look for ways to improve their performance, workflows, reporting, and integration. Solicit feedback from staff, do spot checks to verify their results, and stay up-to-date with the latest advances in automated quality assurance technology. Your robot’s manufacturer or distributor will likely be able to assist in enhancing and optimizing your robot’s detection abilities over time.


With Inspection robots, you don't have to rely on inconsistent human inspectors or settle for lower quality standards. These sophisticated machines can boost productivity, catch defects that humans miss, and help ensure your products meet the highest customer standards. While investing in automation may seem daunting, Inspection robots can pay for themselves over time through increased efficiency and reduced waste. 

Next steps

Interested in bringing robotic inspection to your own business? RO1 by Standard Bots is the best choice for factories large and small:

  1. Affordable: RO1 is the most affordable robotic arm in its class, starting at almost half the price of incumbent competitors. 
  2. All-Seeing: RO1 is equipped with best-in-class vision systems. Easy no-code programming makes it easy to detect the smallest of defects and imperfections.
  3. Collaborative: RO1 comes equipped with safety sensors and built-in collision detection, for safe operation anywhere on your shop floor.

Speak to our solutions team today to organize a free, 30-day onsite trial and get expert advice on everything you need to deploy your first robot.

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