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October 1, 2001

2 Min Read
Vision system keeps a keen eye on inserts


Warmington Industries supplies more than nine million inserts to Agapé Plastics every year. Since installing this vision-sensor-based sorting system from Witness, Warmington ships the inserts certified and JIT with zero defects. Inserts (above) can be simultaneously inspected for length and ID with the absence of any plugs recognized.


The last surprise an automotive molder needs to find is a quality bullet hiding in its supply chain. Agapé Plastics Inc. is a QS, Tier One insert molding specialist in Grand Rapids, MI. It outsources tubular, cold-formed, low-carbon steel inserts that are manually loaded into a 250-ton Trueblood press that Agapé uses, 24/7, to mold 3.3 million spacer blocks per year for an automotive customer. The parts are molded out of a 40 percent glass-filled, postindustrial nylon with two inserts per part. 

The accuracy of the inserts has to be good, especially their length. Otherwise Agapé would shoot holes in the uptime of its customer's submodular assembly line. 

Since November 2000, one of Agapé's suppliers has provided inserts JIT with zero defects. That supplier is Warmington Industries Inc., a consolidated distributor also based in Grand Rapids. Warmington delivers just what Agapé needs, when it needs it, because of its $60,000 investment in a mistake-proof inspection and sorting cell from Witness Inspection (Holland, MI). 

A three-year-old company, Witness has seven of its Series 100 turntable sorting machines in operation in-house, providing job-shop inspection and sorting services. It only recently decided to sell its equipment to others. Warmington and Agapé are glad it did. 

Error-proof Sorting 
The Warmington cell has two DVT vision sensors, a PC controller, a pass/fail counter, and a Series 100 sorter. The system is programmed to sort Agapé's inserts by simultaneously inspecting three key features. In addition to length, the system sorts by ID and the absence of plugs. 

Inserts are loaded onto the turntable and pass beneath the DVT vision sensors. Good parts are ejected into a box by a blast of compressed air. The cell can examine 180 inserts each minute. 

"Out of 30 or so suppliers, one customer moved us up to number three after we started using the Witness system," says Jim Schuster, Warmington's gm and co-owner. "It helps us improve our customer relationships, and we have brought it out to our own suppliers to improve their quality." 

Agapé's Rich Shippy, quality manager, says, "We're promoting it through our supply chain, too. None of the suppliers in our supply base are as effective as Warmington. And we've invited Witness in to error-proof sort in our own plant." 

Contact information
Warmington Industries Inc.
Grand Rapids, MI
Jim Shuster
(616) 458-3815

Agapé Plastics Inc.
Grand Rapids, MI
Rich Shippy
(616) 735-4091

Witness Inspection
Holland, MI
Russ Richardson
(616) 394-9210

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