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New business will listen for product problems

01 November, 2003

Omron has set up a new business in Japan aimed at improving product quality and identifying faults, by analysing the sounds and vibrations emanating from internal motors and other moving parts.

The business, called Signarc, will combine two proprietary Omron technologies to go beyond simple good/bad analyses, to give quantifiable assessments. The company says the technology will be able to answer questions such as "How bad is it?" and "Where is the problem?".

The first stage of the process will use "waveform analysis diagnosis" to assess the condition of the equipment being examined, or to identify malfunctions such as bearing defects, missing gears, or contamination by foreign objects. Microphones and acceleration sensors will capture the waveforms, and from this, 40 types of characteristic will be quantified.

The second technology, called "knowledge formation" will match these characteristics to the know-how of trained inspectors to come up with a quantifiable diagnosis of the problem.

Omron sees the technology being applied not only to product inspection lines, but also to improving product design and quality. It could even be used to answer questions such as "What sound best fits the product`s image?".

Omron predicts that the new business could be generating an annual income of £8.5m by 2006.

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