Using Sound To Quality Check Manufacturing Machinery
“Do you hear this humming sound? That sounds strange, doesn’t it?” – People working in an industrial plant and operating moving or rotating machinery might be familiar with that situation. The human ear is very sensitive, which is why certain (unusual) sounds and noise prompts us to draw certain conclusions and make certain decisions – such as switching off a motor before it may cause damage, because it doesn’t sound as it should. But there is one problem with relying on human hearing only: everyone hears the same sound differently, and comparing what one person hears to what another person hears is difficult. Particularly if we speak about fully automated production processes, technology based solutions need to be in place in order to ensure flawless production and highest product quality.
Given the limitations of the human ear and eye, Fraunhofer IDMT’s new business area “Industrial Media Applications” offers quality assessment solutions featuring audiovisual sensors (i.e., cameras and microphones) and intelligent signal processing algorithms. The new quality inspection method combines analysis of airborne sound with signal analysis and machine learning, allowing the assessment of the quality of products and the condition of machinery on the basis of acoustic pattern recognition. The new method can be applied in various contexts. In production facilities, the method can be used for condition monitoring of machinery. “As soon as irregularities are observed, machine operators are informed and may take preventive action before any damage can occur”, explains Judith Liebetrau, project manager at Fraunhofer IDMT.
Automatic quality control via air borne sound analysis:
Another area of application is quality assessment of components to be integrated with other products. For GÖPEL electronic GmbH, a Thuringian engineering company, Fraunhofer IDMT is currently developing a system for assessing the quality of electrical motors integrated in car seats. At GÖPEL, these and other components to be installed in cars used to be tested with traditional methods measuring structure-borne sound.
“If tests need to be made with motors that are already installed inside the seats, this method is problematic, as it is not possible to capture the sound waves directly”, says Judith Liebetrau.
Frank Pauli, department manager and in charge of end-of-line testing at GÖPEL, is thrilled when he speaks about the possibilities offered by the new Fraunhofer method: “We are currently discussing with our partners from Fraunhofer how we can integrate measuring instruments combining airborne sound measurement and automated quality assessment in our production process. This would clearly help to optimize end-of-line testing at GÖPEL”.
To allow secure processing, transfer, and storage of measured data, Fraunhofer IDMT offers additional validation and encryption technologies, ensuring that data is not corrupted (intentionally or unintentionally) and that sensitive data may be accessed by authorized people and machines only.
Smarter Learning For Students and Employees!
At universities, students are always preparing for their exams. The libraries are full of students using different kinds of educational materials and applying different types of learning methods in order to acquire the knowledge that they need.
Now imagine if each of these students would be supported by a digital companion offering exercises and even complete tests for them to check their current level of knowledge, and which recognizes knowledge deficits and adapts exercises and tests accordingly … Wouldn’t that be great? Well, this digital companion exists! Its name is askMe!
askMe! allows integration of interactive multimedia content, demanding from the student to explore with the exercises and questions to be completed and to consciously develop problem-solving capabilities. “Using askMe!, students are always aware of and informed about their current level of knowledge, says Dr. Christian Saul, one of the co-developers of askMe!. “The tool features an easy-to-use dashboard displaying the student’s test results and listing their specific strengths and weaknesses in relation to what needs to be learned and prepared for the upcoming exam”.
An important aspect for effective learning is that the learning speed can be adapted to the needs and requirements of individuals. Unlike in lectures and seminars attended by a large number of students, askMe! allows tutors and examiners to compile tests taking the level of knowledge and the problem-solving capability of the individual student into account. Likewise, the tutor/examiner can customize and personalize the feedback they give to each student as deemed appropriate. “This is really important to keep up the student’s motivation to actively and consistently deal with the exercises and the whole content presented. If students are permanently over-challenged or under-challenged, they will soon become frustrated”, says Christian Saul.
Apart from using askMe! as a student to prepare for an exam, the tool is also great for human resources managers in companies to assess the knowledge and skills of employees, apprentices, and job applicants, as well as for personnel certification agencies evaluating the skills and expertise of professionals.
The latest version of askMe! addresses one of the hot IT topics currently discussed: cyber security. The test environment of askMe! has been developed during the course of a project entitled “Learning Lab Cyber Security”. The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and run by the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft in close collaboration with selected universities of applied sciences. It focuses on critical infrastructures (such as utilities or hospitals), which are potential targets of cyber attacks and must be protected both by powerful security technology and qualified personnel.
The primary goal of the project is to raise the awareness among security personnel, IT managers, and users working in such critical infrastructures with regard to cyber security, and to offer appropriate training and qualification. In the project, askMe! is used for the development of interactive exercises and tests featuring multimedia content.
Smart Phone Biking Has Arrived
CESAcruise claims to be the world’s first hands-free system for bicycles. Whether phoning, listening to music or using navigation and fitness apps – CESAcruise enables users to safely use their smartphone while riding on the bike and to keep both hands on the handlebar without any distraction from the road.
It is designed to shield wind noise so that you can phone via the hands-free function without any wind noise. The smartphone holder amplifies sound only through its innovative design and enables cyclists to listen to music and navigation directions, without any energy supply and headset.
With the models in White, Yellow and Transparent, you can create another front light when using the smartphone LED. The mount system also contains a slot to insert a charging cable for the smartphone.
CESAcruise is universally compatible with every smartphone and is also multifunctional as it can be used with bicycles, e-bikes, scooters, buggies and soon in the car.
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