[ASC-media] Seeing the invisible - Ultrasound guarantees flawless car parts

sarah at scienceinpublic.com sarah at scienceinpublic.com
Wed May 4 13:36:33 EST 2005

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

"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

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

"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.

For further information contact Suresh on 0410 446 847, email
spalanisamy at swin.edu.au. Suresh will be in New Zealand from 9 May and can be
contactable via email.

Media contacts for Fresh Innovators are: Niall Byrne (03) 5253 1391 and
Sarah Brooker 0413 332 489

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