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Strategic Partnership Fujitsu and VisiConsult Establish a Partnership for Intelligent Inspection

Editor: Isabell Page

Smooth inspection processes are the key to consistently high product quality and thus to the sustainable, economic success of a manufacturing company. To make quality assurance more precise, faster and more efficient, continuous automation of the process chain makes sense.

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Intelligent and therefore more efficient inspections are the objective of the partnership between Fujitsu and VisiConsult.
Intelligent and therefore more efficient inspections are the objective of the partnership between Fujitsu and VisiConsult.
(Source: Fujitsu)

The targeted use of artificial intelligence makes a vital contribution to this. In cooperation with VisiConsult, a specialist in industrial X-ray systems, Fujitsu is working flat out to take a decisive step towards this goal. In a strategic partnership, the companies pool their expertise to launch intelligent inspection solutions that will benefit customers enormously. In the following interview, Christof Schleidt, project manager at Fujitsu, and Lennart Schulenburg, managing director at VisiConsult, explain the background and goals of the project partnership and highlight the concrete benefits for users.

Optimally Merging Core Competencies

Christof Schleidt:

Lennart, we have a very successful partnership with VisiConsult. You are experts and market leaders in industrial X-ray; we are specialists in IT integration, AI and visual inspection. What do you think: how can we optimally contribute and combine our core competencies so that both customers and the entire market benefit to a high degree?

Lennart Schulenburg:

I see our two companies here as sparring partners that perfectly complement each other's skills, solutions and technologies to create sustainable added value. We have digitized the workflow in non-destructive testing (NDT) and automated the process in recent years with our automated X-ray systems. Due to highly accurate digital X-ray detectors, extensive digital image data is available. With you, we are now taking a step towards Industry 4.0. With your expertise in AI, we are successfully making the step from classic image processing to automatic evaluations. Together, we can support our customers in increasing detection probabilities and throughput at the same time.

Christof Schleidt:

I agree. In addition, the networking of systems, the cloud connection and the use of AI make it even easier for us to deliver optimal detection results in a very process-safe manner. After all, you are active in industries where the highest quality standards have to be implemented. I'm thinking of critical components such as wheel suspension in the automotive sector or turbine blades in the aerospace sector. Here, maximum demands are placed on the accuracy and recognition rates of the algorithms. We, therefore, appreciate your many years of experience in non-destructive testing and your targeted focus on the industry.

Successful Use Cases

Lennart Schulenburg:

And it is precisely for this that you offer the ideal complement with your portfolio - with in-depth AI expertise, smart technologies for visual inspection and in-depth knowledge of the market. Together, we have already launched two groundbreaking pilot customer projects in the field of weld seam inspection - with a manufacturer of welded pipes from pipeline construction and a manufacturer of welded, thin-walled titanium pipes from the aviation industry. Both are very safety-critical applications. Both hydraulic lines in aircraft and pipelines have to be tight to ensure operational safety and eliminate serious hazards.

Christof Schleidt:

With these successful use cases, we show that our approach is not just based on pure theory. Instead, we are launching concrete and practical use scenarios. Our central goal is to integrate AI into applications for non-destructive testing seamlessly. To optimally meet customers' needs and address their needs precisely, you have developed a well-thought-out approach. Can you describe this in more detail?

Lennart Schulenburg:

We take an approach that consists of four successive steps: Select - Prove - Qualify - Execute. In the first phase, we offer companies the opportunity to become an active part of the program, i.e. a pilot customer. In the Prove phase, we work closely with them to develop a proof of concept, i.e., we investigate the project's technical feasibility. We then move into the qualifying phase. Since we are operating in a safety-critical area, we have to qualify the algorithms precisely. And we have to demonstrate that the recognition accuracy can withstand these high requirements. Finally, there is the Execute phase, in which the product goes live.

Advantages for users

Christof Schleidt:

Interesting! I think this process gives customers a feel for the expected benefits of the technology, and they can decide for themselves whether they want to invest further or not.

Lennart Schulenburg:

Yes, exactly. And we are demonstrating that it not only works technically but is also profitable from a business perspective. Companies save money and benefit from secure technology. After all, our long-term goal is a universal, fully automated evaluation system.

Christof Schleidt:

In addition, customers benefit from many other concrete advantages. For example, as part of our partnership, we are tackling an issue together that would typically involve too much effort for a single company. Those responsible would have to deal with many different contact persons, such as specialists for AI and non-destructive material testing. In practice, this would entail high investments and would hardly be profitable for most companies. We take this work off their hands and offer a patented, easy-to-implement solution. Another significant advantage is, of course, accuracy and speed in defect detection that could not previously be achieved with manual inspection or rule-based systems. And on top of that, costs are reduced because AI-based quality assurance minimizes serious errors in safety-critical products.

Lennart Schulenburg:

In addition, we can automate the inspection processes end-to-end and thus decisively increase productivity in a central link of the operational value chain. In addition, parallel coordination with regulatory authorities and bodies simplifies the process for customers. After all, numerous certification guidelines must be observed during the operational introduction of AI technologies. And last but not least, customers naturally benefit from both of our expertise - your competence in AI and visual inspection and our 26 years of experience in non-destructive testing, as well as our market leadership in X-ray technology.

A Look into the Future

Christof Schleidt:

Lennart, shall we conclude with a look into the future?

Lennart Schulenburg:

Yes, with pleasure. Where do you think the journey will go in AI-based visual inspection?

Christof Schleidt:

I think that we will continue to bundle our competencies for the benefit of our customers. Fujitsu and VisiConsult together have the potential to revolutionize the market. I am thinking of unprecedented opportunities to optimize the production line and increase process transparency. One goal, for example, could be to coordinate the interaction between machining centres such as a casting cell and the inspecting X-ray technology in real-time.

Lennart Schulenburg:

Complementary to this, it would also be practicable to provide direct and timely feedback to the supply chain when low-quality materials are delivered. In the future, I also see us incorporating other methods of non-destructive testing in addition to X-ray technologies, such as ultrasound, eddy current or magnetic particle inspection.

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