ARVIn: Physically Distant, Technologically Close
The creative teams at our L’Aquila plant in Italy have developed an innovative technology that allows customers to remotely inspect hardware during the production process.
Giving customers access to production facilities for hardware inspections at key integration phases is already a standard practice in contracts. During this procedure, dubbed MIP, for Mandatory Inspection Points, customers physically inspect the hardware to check quality and performance, whether it matches design drawings, and the traceability of all constituent components.
Physical inspections were no longer feasible over the past year because of the pandemic. Our colleagues in L'Aquila therefore accelerated an experimental project, already underway, which leverages the full potential of digital technology (robotization, augmented reality, etc.) so that customers can inspect their hardware remotely, even from thousands of miles away.
This semi-automatic inspection system has been named ARVIn, (Augmented Reality Visual Inspector). It comprises a robotic arm and an image acquisition device with magnification and focus capabilities comparable to the stereomicroscopes normally used for assembly and inspection. However, the device offers even greater freedom so that it can scan an entire printed circuit board, as well as inspect individual components on both sides, regardless of their size and thickness.
ARVIn was developed at L'Aquila, one of the most advanced electronics production facilities in Europe. It has opened the doors of our clean rooms to customers. They can “sit” alongside operators at workstations, but without having to don clean room suits, overshoes and safety headphones, the “spacesuits” that have to be worn in these carefully controlled environments.
Ernesto Ippoliti of the Process department and Federigo Micheli from Quality Assurance are very enthusiastic about this new system: "We already tested its effectiveness last November during the Metop and Sentinel-1 C/D phases: seven PCBs on a table in the clean room in L'Aquila were remotely inspected! It saves time and money and the inspection itself is just as effective."