Machine Vision

Flawless Ignition Coils for the Automotive Industry

18.04.2023 -  Intelligent Vision Systems Automate the Inspection Process, thus Saving Time

With Custom factory automation systems and machine vision, U.S. machine builder Steven Douglas Corp. ensures that automotive ignition coils are manufactured effectively and meet all quality requirements.

Automotive manufacturing is a wholly globalized industry. Companies of every size and niche are competing with one another on a massive scale. Only those who keep costs and delivery times at a low level without sacrificing quality and throughput have a chance of succeeding in this highly competitive market. Manufacturers and automotive suppliers must therefore find new, innovative ways to prevail in the market.

Finding ways to reduce production time and cost comes naturally to Steven Douglas Corp. (SDC), an Ohio-based company that engineers, designs, and builds custom ­factory automation systems. When an automotive component manufacturer approached SDC to design an automated system for assembling ignition coils, SDC knew the vision system would be the solution’s foundation.

Three Vision Systems

Manufacturing ignition coils is a delicate, exact process. One of the first steps is guiding the copper wire into a cylindrical core. SDC needed a vision system to identify the location of the lead wire, another one to measure critical dimensions of the ignition coil during assembly, and finally a system to ensure the completed part met the required ­specifications.

The number of vision systems required for the project – and their different functions – pointed manufacturer in one direction: Cognex. “I prefer Cognex because their products integrate seamlessly into the Rockwell PLC control system that we use on almost all our machines – more seamlessly than most other manufacturers,” said Neil Davis, an electrical engineer at SDC.

For ignition coil quality testing, the machine builder implemented several smart cameras from the In-Sight 8000 family. To inspect critical dimensions of the parts during assembly, the In-Sight 8402 model with a resolution of 1600 x 1200 pixels is used. This ensures that the ignition coils meet all tolerance requirements. The inspections are carried out in a stationary manner as the system moves the ignition coils step by step past the vision systems. The typical dwell time of less than one second gives the In-Sight 8402 systems sufficient time for image acquisition and evaluation.
This way, Cognex In-Sight vision systems automate an otherwise time-consuming part of the inspection process and ensure that only those parts that meet the required specifications make it to the next stage of the production process. Faulty ignition coils, on the other hand, are reliably detected and ejected.

Benefit From Advantages

In addition to the reliability of the systems, SDC‘s customer, a manufacturer of ignition coils, benefits from further advantages. For example, the In-Sight smart cameras are connected to Cognex VisionView 900 touchscreen displays to show plant personnel what types of failures are occurring in real time. These 9-inch control panels provide users with helpful management tools for cameras, sensors and images close to the production line, without relying on PCs or laptops. Their IP65 rating protects them from moisture and makes them insensitive to vibration, allowing their use in a wide range of applications. The combination of In-Sight cameras and VisionView operating panels enables the unerring analysis of failures and thus contributes to the faster optimization of production processes.

Another advantage of the In-Sight vision systems is that they are stand-alone cameras with integrated evaluation that do not require a PC and therefore take up less space and fewer cables than other solutions in the control cabinets of the SDC plant. The ergonomic, compact design of the system therefore enabled the customer to save even more space – a valuable asset in any production facility.

“Our customer immediately achieved higher throughput thanks to the In-Sight vision systems and better understood operational strengths and weaknesses of their plant than before,” enthuses Neil Davis. “In addition, Cognex‘s advanced yet easy-to-use vision tools allow users to implement software-based solutions on the fly and use them to identify and correct inspection-related issues.”


Peter Stiefenhöfer
PS Marcom Services


Cognex Germany Inc.

Emmy-Noether-Str. 11
76131 Karlsruhe

+49 721 958 8052

Digital tools or software can ease your life as a photonics professional by either helping you with your system design or during the manufacturing process or when purchasing components. Check out our compilation:

Proceed to our dossier

Digital tools or software can ease your life as a photonics professional by either helping you with your system design or during the manufacturing process or when purchasing components. Check out our compilation:

Proceed to our dossier