Ultrasound Guarantees Flawless Car Parts

Australian manufacturers can increase car part exports and save millions of dollars by implementing a new system to identify flawed car parts.

Developed by Swinburne University PhD student Suresh Palanisamy, the system uses ultrasonic inspection to identify faulty car parts.

Faulty parts cost manufacturers money and can threaten their multi-million dollar contracts with the car makers.

So, to stay competitive, Australian companies desperately need a cost effective, reliable, automated system to detect defects in manufactured car components. Working with the CRC for Cast Metals Manufacturing, Suresh has found a solution to this problem.

Car parts are traditionally checked for defects by X-ray examination or leak tests. Both of these methods are manual and require considerable, skilled manpower.

“Checking every part is very expensive and faults are sometimes missed. But that’s what the customer expects, and that’s what my invention can deliver,” says Suresh.

“When we ship components to Japan, our customers will reject any shipment that contains more than an agreed level of defects,” says Brian Cooper, from Nissan Casting Australia.

“It would be good if there was a cost effective means of checking 100% of our components to minimise the risk of whole shipments being rejected in Japan.”

During his PhD, Suresh found that ultrasound inspection combined with signal processing and artificial intelligence techniques is better at detecting defects than the methods currently employed by manufacturers.

Suresh’s research has moved to a research fellowship where he is working with automotive manufacturers to develop a prototype inspection rig for use on the industrial shop floor.

"Successful installation of Suresh's research in ultrasonic defect detection on our shop floor has significant potential to deliver, consistent high quality wheels to our customers and save cost in our production process,” says Dr. Darius Singh, Technology Manager for Argent Metals Technology NZ Ltd.

“I hope that within three to four years Australian manufacturers will be able to use my ultrasound system in their day to day manufacturing: saving money, and protecting export markets,” says Suresh.

Suresh’s innovation has won him a place at Fresh Innovators—a national initiative to bring the work of 16 early-career inventers to public attention. After training in Sydney, the Innovators are talking to the media, schools and business about their ideas. One of the 16 will win a study tour to the UK courtesy of the British Council Australia.

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