Automotive painting is a finicky and critical element of vehicle production. Manufacturers will reject vehicles with the slightest of paint blemishes. While automated surface inspection technology is available, an expert pair of human eyes is key to ensuring a flawless job. It may resemble a set piece from Tron, but this LED light tunnel is actually a newly developed German technology that’s designed to improve quality control in automotive paint shops by providing a working environment that’s user-friendly.
The tunnel, called the VarioInspect, is the brainchild of Eisenmann, a German supplier of systems for surface finishing technology, environmental technology and material flow automation. Working with its research partners and with German firm Panik Ebner Design, Eisenmann devised unique LED lighting that can be adjusted from warm white to cool, and tailored to the specific element that the worker is inspecting, such as a paint’s hue or gloss.
The lights are mounted on vertical aluminum bands that form the tunnel’s arch. The bands are staggered to convey a sense of open space, but are close enough in proximity that they reduce outside noise and echoes, eliminating distractions for the inspector. The LEDs generate little heat, ensuring a comfortable working environment, and emit a smooth, uniform light that doesn’t cast shadows as a vehicle passes through the tunnel. Utilities for finishing work, such as water, compressed air and electricity, run along supply lines in the floor. Customized portals for tools can be added by the manufacturer, and installed between the posts.
VarioInspect recently won a 2016 Red Dot Award for product design, in the category of industry, machinery and robotics.