Monday 13 January 2014

Smart testing for smart card production!

Gemalto has improved productivity by using Keyence's CV-5000 vision system to inspect protective transparent resin overlays on its smart-card micromodules and quickly halt production if a defect is detected.
Smart-card manufacturer Gemalto is the leader in a fast-growing sector with a host of applications that range from microprocessor-based banking cards and SIM or UICC cards for mobile phones, to ePassports, smart identification cards, products for online authentication and contactless payment systems. To implement these solutions, remotely manage the applications, and store confidential personal information on these secure devices, Gemalto also provides server software, consultancy, training, and a wide range of outsourced management services. In 2010 Gemalto posted revenue of €1.9 billion and employed more than 10,000 people.

"At our Gemenos site in France we check that the protective resin overlay is correctly applied to our micromodules. More specifically, we check the dimensions, centering, cleanliness, and whether the resin has been evenly applied without any overflow," explains Thierry Padovani, Coating and Assembly Engineer at Gemalto.

"Because the resin is reinforced with fibers, dispensing defects can be a regular occurrence. As a result, regular maintenance is a necessity. We wanted to be able to detect problems as quickly as possible in order to reduce the number of reject micromodules."

The Gemenos site produces 12,000 modules per hour. As the smart-cards are placed in 12 different positions, 12 modules are inspected at the same time. The inspection position is only 50 cm away from the resin dispensing station, a large improvement of 3-4 meters in the past. This allows early detection of defects and quick resolution of the issue, leading to a large reduction in waste. Their warning alarm to turn off the machine would go on at over 500 defects in the past.

"We were looking for a stable solution that could quickly perform this fine detection despite the high production rate and have the alarm set to go off below 500 defects. The vision system is connected to the machine's control system and it does its job perfectly. It has enabled us to achieve significant productivity gains. Keyence's cameras are installed on six lines and there are plans to add a seventh one soon. The cameras have been operating 24/7 for three years now and we're completely satisfied with their detection stability," says Padovani.

The detection process is made more complicated by the fact that the resin used is transparent. "We quickly solved that problem by adding special lighting to reveal differences in opacity," explains Padovani. "The images captured are processed in black and white with a resolution of 1.2 megapixels. It was very quick to set up and use. Keyence developed a validation module that worked immediately and has been running fine since."

The CV-5000 vision system handles all color, B/W, single-camera and multi-camera applications in record time, all for the benefit of increased detection stability. Its applications are dimensional measurement, positioning confirmation and visual inspection. It claims to be the most powerful self-contained vision system on the market. For example, it allows 1 million pixels to be processed in 20.5 ms. This processing power also makes it possible to perform multiple inspections and further enhance the reliability of in-process inspections thanks to its unparalleled repeatability (seven times higher than that of current standards) and many image processing tasks that optimize inspection accuracy.

CV-5000 Series models are controlled by a high-speed color processing engine and a high-speed RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computer) CPU. Both are supplemented by two DSPs (Digital Signal Processors) designed specifically for image processing.

All this Series models use these four processors to achieve task specific processing and attain the fastest processing speeds possible - twice that of the leading models available on the market. The system is also equipped with a double-buffer memory that allows it to capture the next image while an image is being processed. This enables an inspection time of about 16 ms (about 3,700 parts per minute) even in non-interlaced reading mode. The CV-5000 Series offers maximum connectivity through discrete I/O, Ethernet, Ethernet I/P, USB and RS232 ports and can easily be integrated with PLCs or PCs.

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