It’s a vision thing

AMFeb19Features - olympus3
AMFeb19Features - olympus3

In this Q&A session, Olympus Europa’s market development manager – aerospace EMEA, Mark Russ discusses with Ed Hill the latest advances in the company’s visual inspection systems.

In this Q&A session, Olympus Europa’s market development manager – aerospace EMEA, Mark Russ discusses with Ed Hill the latest advances in the company’s visual inspection systems.


Q: How long has Olympus been making visual inspection systems and videoscopes? What was the main driver for the early applications of this technology?

The first industrial remote visual inspection (RVI) systems were introduced in the 1970s and were initially rather similar to the medical Fiberscopes that were available at the time. The industrial RVI equipment was developed for a multitude of applications with the largest market being aerospace gas turbines to minimise inspection time and keep aircraft in the air.

Olympus has a wide portfolio of RVI solutions, from the 2.4mm Iplex TX Videoscope to the 30m long pneumatically articulating Iplex YS. Our flagship product, the Iplex NX, offers aerospace customers the best all-round solution in terms of image quality, light output, articulation, user interface, modularity and connectivity.

Our certifications to industry standards include MIL-SDT-810-G and 461 methods. The Iplex GX/GT is also IP 65 rated.

Q: Can you tell us more about the latest Iplex GX/GT system that you have developed? What would be the main aerospace applications?

The Iplex GX/GT videoscopes are the latest systems available from Olympus, the new systems have been developed with customer centricity in mind and our design engineers have addressed the needs of the aerospace market by improving image quality, light output, articulation and creating a cost-effective modular system that allows customers to connect different length and diameter insertion tubes to the base unit.

The versatile Iplex GX/GT has been designed to address the needs of the aerospace market

Our customers can feel confident that due to the superb image quality from the Iplex GX/GT, they have the best probability of detection with this system for both OEM quality control and all RVI MRO applications.

Q: What are the reasons for using different light sources and scopes during an inspection? What is the difference between using Infra-Red and UV and how does the scope’s articulation systems work?

The light sources can be swapped out by the user, from white light to UV. For security applications there is also an option for Infra-red (IR). This modular light source design opens up more application opportunities for our customers without the requirement to purchase a secondary system. Identifying oil leaks within an auxiliary power unit for example is considerably easier with UV light as the oil will fluoresce allowing inspectors to quickly identify the problem area.

The articulation system utilises our very successful Truefeel technology and will always ensure that the distal end of the insertion tube is directed precisely where the user requires without over-shooting. The articulation moves intuitively with the user’s thumb and has been tested for durability.

Q: What are the biggest demands/trends coming from the industry when it comes to visual testing systems? Is it flexibility, mobility, accuracy, speed, interconnectivity etc.?

The market requirement has changed slightly over the last few years as users require their data to be more accessible, simply uploading data to a memory card is not enough these days. Connectivity is now a key requirement and this has been addressed with our latest systems. The Iplex GX/GT has Wi-Fi capabilities that allow users to view and record live images and videos to their smartphones and iPads, or uploaded to a cloud server. Once the data has been captured, it can instantly be emailed out or shared via social media platforms. We are also working closely with Librestream and have options that include the collaboration hub.

Q: How do the measurement systems work when combined with video systems? How accurate is the system when it comes to taking measurements and how does the software help the operator generate reports?

The GX/GT system comes with one measurement technique as standard. This is the reference technique that allows users to input a measurement from a known reference and then apply this calibration to other areas of an image. The additional Stereo Measurement option provides considerably more options for inspections and is much more accurate using a duel-lens, lateral-shift algorithm to verify distance, depth, area and point-to-line techniques.

All systems that have the Stereo Measurement option come with a NIST-certified reference standard to provide customers with confidence of the system’s accuracy. For reporting, we have our InHelp software that is available free of charge. The software will allow customers to re-measure images that have been sent to their PCs and also create tailored reports to include images, comments and measurement results.

Mark Russ, market development manager aerospace – EMEA at Olympus Europa

The free of charge InHelp software also allows users to create an inspection template for their application and a predefined list of comments that can be selected and attributed to the images to automatically populate a customised report template at the click of a button.

Q: How are your video systems adapting to the requirements of Industry 4.0?

Our systems are constantly evolving to the requirements of the aerospace market. We have come a long way since our early generation products and I’m proud of the systems that we have available to support our customers. Durability is important and this has been heavily engineered into our products. With the addition of our icon-based menu systems, the Olympus RVI equipment is user-friendly and rugged, meeting the high demands of the modern aerospace industry.

Q: Are you working on systems that will incorporate elements of Augmented Reality (AR) with your scopes?

We have a team of highly-experienced R&D engineers in Tokyo who are constantly evaluating new techniques and studying the latest technology to further improve our future generations of videoscopes. I feel confident that if Augmented Reality is what our customers require for future products, we will in time be able to offer a solution. If anyone would like a demonstration of any of our products, please contact your local Olympus representative.


Olympus IMS

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