Vision inspection systems: What they are and how they work

January 16, 2024
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Where are video inspection systems commonly used? 

Vision inspection systems have a host of applications in manufacturing and industry. 

Here are some of the most common use cases: 

QC, or quality control

Given its capabilities, vision inspection systems rock at spotting even the most minute defects in a wide variety of products. 

The system can detect things like cracks, dents, scratches, or contaminants and automatically (and gently) remove those products from the line.

Assembly verification

Vision systems also excel at making sure parts are assembled correctly. To do so, they check that all required components are present, aligned, and fastened correctly before the product moves further down the line. 

This catches any errors early and prevents faulty products falling into the hands of (soon to be dissatisfied) customers.

Sorting, grading, and classification

Many facilities use machine vision to automatically sort and grade products based on certain attributes like size, color, shape, or other visual properties. 

The system scans each item one by one and determines which category it falls into. After, it activates mechanical sorters to separate the products into the appropriate bins or piles. 

This drastically cuts down on the time and labor required for sorting and grading.

Reading codes

These vision inspection systems can perfectly scan product labels, barcodes, QR codes, serial numbers, and other printed codes to capture the information within. 

Then, they decode them and log the data, or use it to perform other functions like sorting products, verifying their authenticity, or tracking them through the supply chain.

Presence/Absence checking

An often-overlooked use of machine vision is verifying that required components, labels, or markings are actually there or that unwanted items are absent. 

The vision system scans the product and alerts operators if anything is missing, damaged, or incorrect so they can fix the issue before the product moves on.

Actual use cases of vision inspection systems

Unsurprisingly, these systems are present in manufacturing plants worldwide, as they’re ideal for inspecting high-volume, mass-produced goods

Some common applications that benefit from this type of inspection are: 

  • Electronic component inspection - Checking circuit boards, wires, and other parts.
  • Automotive part inspection - Verifying the quality of gears, brake pads, airbags, and more.
  • Food and drink inspection - Detecting flaws and contaminants in products before they’re packaged or shipped.
  • Medical device inspection - Making sure that critical parts like surgical tools, implants, and diagnostic equipment meet the highest standards.
  • Pharmaceutical inspection - Carefully monitoring pills, vials, syringes, and other products to detect even the most minute imperfections.
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Where do vision inspection systems beat humans?

A machine vision inspection system offers quite a few benefits to the naked eye. 

Let’s see:

All in all, they’re cheaper

Machine vision systems are a way more affordable option compared to hiring multiple human inspectors. 

Once you purchase the initial system, there’s little ongoing cost except for the occasional maintenance or reprogramming.  

By way of contrast, human inspectors require salaries, benefits, and smoke breaks. For companies inspecting high volumes, or with the need to scale up with continuous processes, machine vision wins.


Human inspectors can be subjective in their judgments and assessments. Tiredness, distractions, and ups and downs in perception could mean that the same human inspector may not always make the exact same pass/fail call on a part. 

Machine vision systems evaluate parts based on objective, programmed criteria. They apply the same standards always and consistently to every single part inspected. 

They don’t hesitate

Machine vision systems can assess parts and make pass/fail judgments much more quickly than human inspectors. 

They’re done in a matter of seconds, compared to the minutes it might take a human. For high-volume manufacturing, fast inspection means keeping up with production and avoiding bottlenecks

They learn and provide real-time feedback

Many machine vision systems can compile and analyze inspection data over time. 

They can detect trends in defects, identify parts that frequently fail inspection, and provide insights to help optimize production processes. The data and analytics machine vision allows companies to make ongoing improvements

Summing up

After that overview of machine vision inspection systems and how they work, it’s hard to deny their value over traditional human inspectors. 

Whether you're looking to improve quality control, increase productivity, reduce waste, or optimize processes (and you should if you’re looking to scale up), machine vision is the way to go. 

Next steps

Interested in bringing vision inspection systems to your shop floor? RO1 by Standard Bots is the best choice for SMEs and industrial giants alike.

  • Affordable: RO1 is the most affordable robotic arm in its class, starting at almost half the price of its closest competitors. 
  • Powerful: RO1 is faster and more precise than competitors, with high-grade robot vision systems and a best-in-class payload of 18 kg. 
  • Easy to set up: RO1 is extremely easy to use straight out of the box, owing to a revolutionary no-code framework that requires zero coding expertise. 

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 robotic partner.

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