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Surface analysis of cast aluminum by


means of artificial vision and AI-
based techniques

Carlos Platero, Carlos Fernandez, Pascual Campoy,


Rafael Aracil

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Surface analysis of cast aluminum by means of artificial vision and A.I. based techniques

Carlos Platero*t, Carlos Femández*t, Pascual Campoy*, RafaelAracil*


*
Dept. de Ingenierfa de Sistemas y Automática (DISAM)
t
Dept. de FIsica Aplicada e Ingenierfa de Sistemas (FATS)
Polytechnical University of Madrid
Madrid. Spain.
cplatero@disam.upm.es

ABSTRACT

An architecture for surface analysis of continuous cast aluminum strip is described. The data volume
to be processed has forced up the development of a high-parallel architecture for high-speeed image
processing. An specially suitable lighting system has been developed for defetc enhancing in metallic
surfaces. An special effort has been put in the design of the defect detection algorithm to reach two main
objectives: robustness and low processing time. These goals have been achieved combining a local analysis
togheter with data interpretation based on syntactical analysis what has allowed to avoid morfological
analysis.
Defect classification is accomplished by means of ruled-based systems along with data-based
classifiers. The use of clustering techniques is discussed to perform partitions in R by SOM, divergency
methods to reduce the feature vector applied to the data-based classifiers. The combination of techniques
inside a hybrid system leads to near 100% classification sucess.

Keywords. Automated visual inspection. Image Processing. Feature selection. Neural networks. Hybrid systems.

1.INTRODUCTION

Surface inspection is usually a bottle-neck in many production processes. There is a great number of
manufacturing processes where inspection for surface finishing or surface defects is attempted: steel strip, hot steel slabs,
plastic plates, painted surfaces, wooden surfaces, profiles The most difficult task of inspection is that of inspecting
for visual appearance. The visual inspection in most manufacturing processes depends mainly on human inspectors
whose performance is generally inadequate and variable. The human visual system is adapted to perform in a world of
variety and change; the visual inspection process, on the other hand, requires observing the same type of image
repeatedly to detect anomalies.. The accuracy of human visual inspection declines with dull, endlessly routine jobs.
Slow, expensive, erratic inspection is the result. Automated visual inspection is obviously the alternative to the human
inspector.

Along these past years several systems have been developed for visual defect detection in textile products, wood,
steel, aluminum,.., but defect classification remains under research. Defects in these products present several troubles
like the presence of many defect types, different appearances for the same defect that demand recognition systems able
to on-line learning.

Aluminum strip obtention from molten metal requires inspection of surface appearance as well as control over
some other features like surface temperature, profile thickness,... for quality assessment.

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The goal of the reported work is to
develop a hard/soft architecture able to
determine if a defect appears, classify this
defect into a known type, correlate the system
status with the process parameters
(temperature, pressure, pulling force, torque,
...) and take the control actions necessary to
lead the process to its optimum production
status. Figure 1 shows the scheme of the
whole system, that includes the defect
Fig. 1 . Developed Architecture. detection module, the defect classification

module, the temperature acquisition system, the profile


thickness measurement system and the expert system
that decides which control actions are necessary to
perform over the casting process. This paper refers to
the vision system that detects and classify the surface
defects; both research and developed work are in depth
discussed.

Figure 2 shows a partial scheme where the


developed vision system can be seen: lighting devices,
CCD cameras, image processing hardware and defect
analysis system.
Fig. 2. Visual Inspection System.

2. DEFECT DETECTION MODULE.

Its aim is to detect when a surface defect appears. It is composed by a lighting system, CCD cameras, and image
processing hardware. From an early classification of Former' for visual inspection systems, these can be classified by
the kind of images they use: binary images, gray level images, color images or range images. Specialized bibliography
on surface inspection points out that, generally, gray ivel images are used for this purpose. Most of the applications for
cork, steel, wood, paper inspection use image substraction techniques or local threshold algorithms for defect detection2.
For defect detection in cast aluminum, experience from Macaire and Piironen2 has been applied.

2.1. Lighting system and image acquisition devices.


Defects in metallic surfaces are characterized for alterations in its microstructure. Since the defects that appear
in this kind of surfaces imply a material alteration, the observation of the specular component of the reflected light resuts
in defect enhancing. Due to the high reflection coeficcient of the aluminum surface, it has been necessary to desing a
lighting system able to unifomly lightening the surface, avoiding any type of reflection. With this purpose, a lighting
simulator was designed for getting the optimal configuration by means of optical methods from Torrance-Sparrow5.

B&W CCD cameras has been adopted as the most appropiate for the application, mainly by two reasons: the
maximum strip speed does not overcome 2 ni/rn, which permits acquisition times of 50mseg. and also because
neighbourhood processing is demanded, since aluminum surface contains a great amount of texture that does not allows
threshold-based processing. Specifications for the vision system include:
Minimum defect size: 1 mm2

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Strip width: up to 2000 mm.
Casting speed: up to 2 rn/rn.

With a resolution of 2 pixel/mm using 752*528 pixel cameras, eigth cameras are disposed by each side of the
strip. Processing time for each image rounds 2 seconds.

2.2. Image processing.

Once got, images from aluminum are processed to find defects. A local analysis is carried out to localize defects,
since it is not possible a global scope due to the presence of texture. Due to the high roughness of the aluminum surface,
clear points appear mingled with darker ones; some defects do not produce a significant variation in the absolute gray
level values, but produce an alteration in the spatial distribution of gray levels.

Previous to image processing, an image is acquired setting the diaphragm to the maximum opening, avoiding
saturations, keeping the maximum meassuring range with the best quantification of the analog signal. Then, images are
displaced n gray levels to avoid overflows during the processing stage.

Similarity-based algorithms as well as texture analysis6 have been developed for defect detection. According to
conclussions over real time processing7, the use of simple statistical parameters leads to high performance in real-time
artificial vision applications. The defect detection algorithm is executed considering that the gray level distribution over
the aluminum surface under uniform light fits a Gauss density function, which average depends on the illumination level
and the nature of the inspected material, keeping almost constant the variance. A pixel is considered no faulty when it
observes:

i(x,y) - X1 p(x,y) in(x,y) + X

m(x,y) is the grey level average (3 x 3) from correct pixel and X1, X2 the grey values around the average and p(x,y) is
the average from image to analyze. The processing steps are minimum (average in the neighbourhood environment and
local comparison with patterns) and allow to define defects with appearance "clear" or "dark". Subsequently, it is passed
to detection of presence /absence of defects with a simple image histogram result.

The absence of defects permits light pattern updating, with the aim of removing potential defects produced by
the waste in the lamps, presence of dust, or variation in light levels due to sunlight.

The presence of defects will originate an object labelling stage into clear and dark objects. In the case that the
number of objects were excessive (case of the sticking defect which envolves many images) the local thresholds will
be increased (Xl, X2) carrying the formation of a new light pattern. The experience has demonstrated that the
identification of defects does not require an excessive number of objects, as the presentations of these maintain space
characteristics well differentiated. Therefore, the local thresholds is a dynamic feature and its value will depend on the
aluminum appearance.

Afterwards, this information goes into the defect classification system.

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3. FEATURE EXTRACTION MODULE.

Since the final goat is to classify defects into M classes (5 or 8) starting from the labelled set of samples, the
method starts studying the features obtained by the image processing hardware; second, it is necessary to select those
best features containing the most information. For a better interpretation ot the pattern's structure, features are processed
by menas of cluster analysis to determine if sub-classes are present for any of the known defect types. When designing
the classifiers, two different working lines have been followed: the first one, classifiers based on an hybrid system, is
completely implemented; second one, trying to combine knowledge methods, factorial analysis and bayesian classifiers
is under research.

We have used syntactic methods for defect representation, therefore direct methods are employed to describe
defects with primitives. In a first development, the all possible number of object attributes were extracted, characteristics
of edges and regions with techniques of scalar transformation, attending to the Pavlidis classification8. The knowledge
of defect's privileged directions involving traverse or longitudinal bands as well as speckles, forced up the development
of a continuous algorithm based on defect mass and perform a transformation from object information into terminal
elements that are common to all grammars. Terminal elements has been used to associate object attributes with spatial
features. Theses primitives act as sources for parametric and non parametric classifiers.

3.1. Primitive obtention


Once a defect is detected and analyzed, features belonging
Objects grouping in primitives to every object are capable to act as input vectors to the grouping
algorithm. Objects are classified by their area in every ROl (region
of interest in the image), and then objects are labelled into
predefined shapes (points, speckles, longitudinal bodies and
___ traverse bodies) and compactness level is calculated. Then,
objects are associate to terminal elements starting from the most
significant ones (acting as seeds), following rules of continuity
and vecinity, starting from gravity centres and searching along
privileged orientations. This operation ends with labelling and
getting features for the medium-level terminal elements (figure 3).
Clear and dark objects are separately labelled.
Fig. 3. Objects association.

For each defect an information tree is obtained following the previous steps; each node of this tree contains the
terminal elements and the information of lower level, for each of the images in witch the defect was detected.
(Figure 4).

At this moment, we have a terminal element collection ready to use as input vector for classifiers based on
concatenation rules, composed by the primitives sequence, but we also need an input vector for data-based classifiers.
For this reason, the primitives information requires a transformation from terminal element sequences to pattern vector
with n dimension.

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If there is no uncertainity in defect representation (for
the presented application this is shown by means of the
virtual representation and by the results from the sintactic
IC classifiers -100% is not reached, since the known difficulty
to reach all the rules for eveiy grammar-) then they would fit
as input sources for classifiers based on data. The objective
. is to condense primitive information into a vector. For this
*NSFORMACI' reason, we got some features as invariant moments, area for
* PRIMFTIV*5
OJEF every primitive, perimeter of primitives,. .. to be included in
vfa1a Ca1.._n
the pattern vector.
Fig. 4. Virtual defect representation

This method offers multiple advantages. First, if there is not uncertainity in defect representation through
primitives, the information volume is smallest and its conclusion is an smallest n dimension pattern space. For instance,
a sticking defect may occurs for up to 1 .5 meters without interruption, which implies up to 10 Mbytes information from
video source. Using the developed artificial vision algorithms this information becomes into several tens of bytes,
allowing small processing time (less than 300 msec/image).

Second, the quality of pattner vector depends of quality of primitives, therefore if terminal elements data contains
information about defect structure, then our descriptors will have higher cualification than classical descriptors.

Third, the pattern vector is gotten with all the images that contain defect, and it is independent on the numers of
images.

Fourth, features are quite homogeneous if they are selected using global criteria, i. e., the sum of areas of every
of the primitives.

Fifth, vector dimension is smallest because each descriptor has cualitive information and not cuantitative one.
All theses reasons permit to use togheter serveral classifiers in real time, because we only need a vector with
18-dimension in our application.

The following step is to optimize the feature vector to help an optimum design of the classifiers.

3.2. Selection of the feature vector.

The conversion of the information concerning terminal elements into the feature vector includes two different
kinds of features: general data, refering to the defect size and structure data that refers to the different topologies, in
percentage, that compose the whole defect.

With genemi data' the length and width of the whole defect is specified. Rotation radius is employed to avoid
errors produced in the segmentation process. Only 'Y' coordinate -casting direction- is used, since traversal position
of defects is not important. Also inertia moments - respect to the vertical and horizontal lines passing through the mass
center of the defect- are taken into account. These five data are calculated separately for the clear and dark portions of
the defect, and form the first 10 input data for the neural network.

'Structure data' means information about how the defect is composed by terminal elements. Final data includes
the whole area of every of the eigth different terminal elements confained in the defect.

A carefull study of the feature vector has been performed by means of multivariate analysis. Traditionally, there
are two ways to reduce the feature vector: to remove those features that make less contribution to explain variability

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or to combine different features by menas of transformations that contain the information about the intrinsic
discrimination of classes9. In a firts stage of the study, discriminant analysis is applied from a global point of view, that
is, the discriminant aspect in the input space is studied. Principal components allow to know linear combinations that
permit to get smaller sub-spaces, and show the accumulative explanation degree of every component. In other hand, for
the components to accurately describe size and shape, Rao'° " conditions must apply: every coeficient a11 is greater than
zero, meaning size, and the coeficients of the following components are positive or negative meaning shapes. This
confirms the validity of the feature vector. Variance analysis methods; as MANOVA, allow to know a ranking for the
components of the feature vector, under different hypothesis of feature dependency and multinormal distribution.

The global and cuantitative point of view of the problem is a first approximation, since the discrimination level
of almost every method depends on the own classes definition which not always fits with the homogeneous associations
in the input space; there are sub-classes with different positions inside W' and with non-normal density distributions.
The global study of the feature vector shows three possible ways to follow: go on with the classifier design using the
same vector, a vector that is a proyection over the main components or use a selection following a feature ranking.

The complexity of the exposed method leads more to an artistic design for the classifier than a technnical one.
The second step is to know the structure of the information, that is, which natural associations are discovered in Jt; for
this purpose auto orgarnzative maps has been used, training several maps following the three ways mentioned above.
Along this experience it could be seen how, without introducing any kind of information about defect type, some clear
belonging areas to different defect sub-classes were shown. From these regions in the input space and from the
knowledge about the defects12, fatures are selected in a way that discrimination degree is optimized for every region.

3.3. Exploratory analysis of data.

Self-organizing maps represents an image from the feature space and its proyection is performed in an optimum
way, in the sense that the topology of the input space is kept, when possible, over the net surface (near processing
elements correspond to similar inputs x to the net). Also, the map reflects the density functions of x : regions of the
feature space whose representatives x more often appears are mapped over a greater number of processing elements 13,
14, 15

Considering practical advices when developing with SOM'6 and after several initializations, the method showed
great convergency; three maps were obtained: excited with the feature vector, main components projection and reduced
vector. The best approximation was found with the map excited with the feature vector, which was afterwards tuned
by means of LVQ1.

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Figures 5 and 6 show common
circumstances between the sample proyection in
the plane, by Sammon and the self-organized
map obtained. Defects positioned in the borders
agree with border neurons in the two-dimwnsion
array. Group neighbouthoods are also shown by
neurons. In other hand groups with greater
presence of defects are represented by more
neurons. It can be also observed that confidence
is lost in borders, while in inner areas success
reach 100%.

Fig. 5. Self-organized Map


stkk. long + cnst_an' lackso trans x

From these maps not only optimum proyection and


important discnmonation level is obtained, but there is 10
also obtained the definition of regions in that allows to
perform a better feature selection for each region. 5

Starting from the information obtained from the 0 X


classification, disparity level for each group is significant,
-5
xx +E
4E
but when aplying this technique, more compact and *
homogeneous sub-groups are obtained. If probability
-10
functions ere considered as multinormal, compactness
indexes can be measured by aproximation to Fisher
distribution, and it is observed greater homogeneity in the -0 -5 0 5 10 15 20
Cluster para 5 defectos
sub-classification than in the first separation performed
over the labelled samples. Fig. 6. Cluster for five defect types.

At this point is when feature selection can be made, since a global reduction is not feasible until a region is
defined, that, togheter with the knowledge about the classification problem pennits a better selection and higher
discrimination level. Now is when human aportation is necessary, since it is no possible to estimate the knowledge from
an infinite number of samples. Once the problem has been associated with the human knowledge, it is time to design
the optimum classifier for this zone in In the following paragraph thissubject is described.

3.4. Combination of SOM and maximization of distance among classes.

To achieve better success rate in the system of self-organized maps with fine tunning LVQ1, a transformation
is performed that consists of maximization of the distance among classes of the border groups. This happends when the
output corresponds to excitation of neurons in border positions.

Once the zone is detected, it is observed which are the most discriminant features. Afterwards a rn-dimension sub-
space is constructed (( rn n) and the estimation of intraclass and interciass covariance matrices are obtained. To
maximize the separation of the clusters, a transformation matrix is used with the eigenvalues of the matrix:

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WE = Xc

After, a bayesian classifier is constructed. Preliminary results show an improvement of 77% over the work
performed by the net. This leads to a global improvement up to 98,74 %.

3.5. Hyrbid architecture for defect classification.


Defect recognition problem is not an easy task; the solution can be obtained using a conjunction of
several Artificial Intelligent techniques, v.g. Laveen Kanal introduces the concept 'hybrid system"7 . It seems
necessary to use several tools for the recognition; in this case we have used paramentric and non parametric
classifiers. The output data from primitive recognition becomes as the common input vector to all the
subsystems that build up the classification module. Each subsystem performs a separate classification by
itself, having all of them complementary features. Output vectors from these classifiers act as inputs for a
neural net which acts as supervisor and decides what type the defect belongs to.

The techniques employed were selected as a result of searching for classification subsystems with
supplementary features. Primitives have conditioned the use of free-context grammars for each defect type,
so a rule-based production system has been implemented and in addtion we tried to increase performance
including concepts about fuzzy clasifiers'8. Several nets have been used to perform at this stat . Also
statistical decision is used20. As a result of this research the first classification step is performed by:

1. Rule-based systems: use of a free-context grammar for each defect type, along with supervising system
and fuzzy classifiers.
2. MLPs with backpropagation learning algorithm, useful by their high capacity of generalization.
3. LVQ Net with nearest neighbor based classifier.
4. ART Net for the determination of new defect types.
5. Statistical decision

At the top, acting as a supervising system, a neural system (MLP wit backpropagation learning
algorithm) selects the most accurated classification. In a previosly reported work21 every subsystem is showed
in detail. Tables I, II show result for both five and eight defects classifications.

Since process control depends on information from the visual inspection system, it is necessary to
completly assure classification sucess; for this purpose an hybrid configuration has been adopted.

3.6. Process history.


The classifiers shown above have the goal of defect classification into types, from the information
contained in the images processed by the vision system. Now then, it is also necessary to keep an history of
the produced strip, since the defect can be origened by past samples. This hypothesis would assume the
desing of recurrent nets that consider past defects and also rule-based systems with this feature. The goal is
to separate the process into two phases: one that identifies the defect topology and other that decides the
control action to take over the casting process.

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Lack long. band

traverse bands sticking without defect

Defect name MLP LVQ F_ART Syntactic Statitistical Supervisor

Sticking 88 66 100 100 100

Lacks 86 89 100 100 1(X)

long. bands 100 94 100 89 100

traverse 97 100 94 100 100

ab.crist. 89 89 68 94 94

Table I

Defect name MLP LVQ F_ART Syntactic Statitistical Supervisor


MLP

Sticking 88 66 88 100 100

Lacks I 86 89 100 100 100

Lacksll 83 50 66 100 100

long. bands 84 94 68 68 94

scratch 72 59 100 100 100

traverse 97 100 94 100 100

clear bands I 00 87 1 00 1 00 100

abcrisL 89 89 68 94 94

Table H

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For instance, a common defect like sticking usually goes with dark traversal bands along sewveral
meters. These will be classified as dark traversal bands but the control action to be performed over the caster
will depend on the coil history. The configuration hereby presented uses neural networks, rule-based systems
and statistical classifiers togheter with a neural classifier at the end of the classification process to achieve
100% success when determining defect topology. An expert system closes the control ioop and decides the
necessary control action over the caster from information coming from the vision system, the temperature
massurement system and the profile thickness meassurement system.

4. RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS.

A defect classification system for surface defect classification in cast aluminum, based on several artificial
intelligence techniques has been described. Artificial vision algorithms has been implemented for process description
and for feature extraction. The presence of defects in the aluminum strip is on-line achieved. When no defect appears,
it forces the renovation of the light pattern over the strip, while the presence of defect starts out the classification
process.

Syntactic methods are used for defect representation. The information primitives are transformed into a feature
vector. It has been discussed about feature selection from a global point of view to a particilar focus when knowledge
about defect topology is avaliable in advance. Self-organized maps are used for data exploration. Homogeneous
associations are used to construct belonging functions and also bayesian classifiers are employed to get sepparation in
border neurons. Classification process is performed by an hybid system which conclusion is tranmitted to an expert
system that decides the control actions to be taken in the casting process and also elaborates the quality report for every
produced coil.

Image processing algorithms has been developed using Matrox's IMAGE 1280 board and finally implemented
in a real-time image processing hardware, IMACAD 240 from SECAD. Man-machine interface is supported whitin a
Windows 3.X application under C++. For neural nets development NEURALWOKS II was used and after they were
attached to the rest of the software. Discriminant analysis was performed using TOOLDIAG22 and MATLAB software
packages.

Classification success goes from 95.7% for eight defects to 99.7% for five defects classification. The use of
Dynamic Libraries that keep the code belonging to classifiers, along with a programmed tool for on-line defect
supervision allows a fine tunning of classifiers and also an easy update.

5. REFERENCES.

1. Newman,T.S., Jam, A.K., A Survey of Automated Visual Inspection, Computer Vision and Image
Undesstanding, Vol. 61, March, pp 231-262,1995

2. Batchelor,B.G., Braggins,D.W. Commercial vision systems, Computer Vision: Theory and Industrial
Applications, pp 405-452, Springer-Verlag, New York, 1992

3. Piironen, T., Silven, 0., Pietikäinen, M., Laitinen, T. Automated Visual Inspection of Rolled Metal Surface,
Machine Vision and Applications,Vol. 3, pp 247-254, Springer-Verlag, New York, 1990

4. Macaire, L., Postaire, J.G. Flaw detection on galvanized metallic strips in real time by adaptive thresholding,
Computer Vision for Industry, Vol. 189, pp 14-25,SPIE 1993

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